Blood on the Dance Floor Retrospective: Scissors

This is part of a Retrospective that covers the bands entire discography. You can find the post for the previous album here. There’s also an introduction and disclaimer that you can read here, that I strongly suggest you start out with.

When it comes to Blood on the Dance Floor releases, Scissors is a huge outlier that really stands out from everything else for a multitude of reasons. First of all, it’s yet another shift in sound for the band, moving away from the heavy Brostep infused sound of Bad Blood and Bitchcraft in favour of an 80’s inspired, almost dreamy, Synthpop sound. It also contains next to no sexually explicit lyrics and features very little cursing in general, a rarity for the band who have always been notorious for doing both on a regular basis since their debut album. It’s also the bands first release since Let’s Start a Riot that wasn’t produced by Rusty “Lixx” Wilmot, who stopped producing for the band shortly before this album was recorded. Wilmot has since disappeared off the face of the fucking planet and I have no idea what he’s doing now. This probably explains the significant drop in production quality, which while not that big of a problem, is still pretty noticeable. I also recently discovered from the booklet that came with the album that Christopher Mongillo, one of the original members of Blood on the Dance Floor, was involved in the production of some of the tracks of this one. Colour me surprised!

Scissors is also pretty notable for its rather poor reception among the fanbase. This album is already heavily disliked in general, because it’s a fucking Blood on the Dance Floor album, but even fans of the band aren’t super keen on this one. In a way, Scissors represents the beginning of the downfall of Blood on the Dance Floor’s then unchallenged popularity. The duo were heavily criticised by both the general public and the music industry as a whole, but they always had their insanely dedicated fanbase at their beck and call, ready to defend them from the “haters” at every turn. Scissors was the first time that fanbase started to actively move away from the band, with physical sales figures plummeting compared to those of previous releases and ticket sales for live shows being so bad that they had to cancel several dates and meet-and-greets on their tour for the record. Even today, in retrospect, the few fans of the band that remain don’t really talk about Scissors all that much, which is a bit of a shame if you ask me. But we’ll get into why later on.

And finally, and probably the most notable thing about Scissors, is that it’s the final album to feature Jayy Von Monroe, who had been Dahvie Vanity’s right hand man since their third studio album Epic. He left the band shortly after this album was released, for reasons that we’ll be discussing in this very post, as it actually ties into what I believe to be the albums central theme. Jayy was an incredibly talented vocalist and songwriter who’s dynamic with Dahvie was fucking excellent and it’s honestly a real shame that this is the last record he ever recorded with the band and that his career has kind of faded into obscurity since. He released a solo album during his time with BOTDF and after leaving he also released his first solo EP, but since then he hasn’t been very active at all. He apparently does porn through OnlyFans or something now? Fuck knows. Regardless, Jayy is a fantastic artist and I do hope he’ll make a real comeback someday, be that as a solo artist or in a new band or whatever. It’d be a shame for that talent to just… Be gone.

So with all that aside, let’s finally get into this one. Scissors is an album that’s really grown on me over the years. Originally, I really wasn’t keen on it at all. I couldn’t stand the wildly different shift in sound and the sudden drop in production quality just really bothered me. Musically, it’s a huge departure from the bands previous records, even more so than the likes of Anthem of the Outcast and Cruel Pornography. It’s still an Electronic album, but the way it’s presented is just… Very different. Scissors is a softer album. It’s a more gentle album. It’s less hard-hitting and it’s almost soothing to listen to for the most part. There are still plenty of bangers, it wouldn’t be a Blood on the Dance Floor album without them, but a lot this album is almost dream-like in its production. Strange and soothing vocal effects litter every single one of these tracks, making Dahvie and Jayy’s singing sound completely different to what you’d normally expect from the band. Production wise, it’s one of the bands most unique and interesting albums, and while on a first listen the style and presentation may seem off-putting, especially if you’re a fan of their previous work, it definitely grows on you after multiple listens. At least it did for me.

And of course I can’t talk about Scissors without mentioning the context surrounding it, and this is where things get really interesting. As I mentioned earlier, shortly after this album was released, Jayy Von Monroe left the band, and while at the time it was never made clear why, several months later Jayy himself came out with a statement where he detailed exactly why he decided to leave. And ohhhh boy. This is one hell of a shitstorm.

Dahvie Vanity has always had a bad reputation, and for the longest time Jayy was always seen as his best friend. His right hand man. His brother. People would always wonder how Jayy could turn a blind eye to Dahvie’s reputation. Why didn’t he address any of the accusations against his partner? Why didn’t he ever say anything when they got into conflicts with other bands or featured artists that they worked with over the years? Why the fuck was he so silent?

Because it turns out Jayy was just as much of a victim as everyone else. He joined Blood on the Dance Floor when he was only 18 years old and was drunk on the glory of touring the world alongside Dahvie Vanity at such a young age. But as time went on, Dahvie began to abuse and take advantage of him. He’d refuse to share the vast amounts of money they made together from CD sales and touring and instead acted like a “caretaker”, giving him an “allowance” when he needed it. He’d become terrified of Dahvie’s short temper, worried that if he even so much as stepped out of line, that he’d be fired, just like everyone else that had worked with the band. He was manipulated to dislike and fight against anyone who dared call out Dahvie’s behaviour. There were many times where Jayy was left with no money, while Dahvie would spend their hard earned cash on ridiculous expenses like new cars and extravagant clothes. And the final kicker, was that just before the Scissors tour, Jayy was diagnosed with HIV, and Dahvie forced him to tour, telling him his treatment would “have to wait” because the tour was “too important” to cancel.

Combine this the fact that Jayy was no longer comfortable performing their more sexually explicit material to their mostly teenage audience, and the fact that the band had recently gone back to their older ways of focusing on this kind of material on albums like Bitchcraft and Cruel Pornography he’d finally had enough, and decided to call it quits. It turns out that the more meaningful and emotionally charged material of albums like Evolution and Anthem of the Outcast was mostly Jayy’s doing. He wanted to use their music to sell a meaningful message to their audience. He wanted them to make a difference in people’s lives, and for a time they were.

And with Scissors, Jayy finally hoped to deliver one final message to the fans. He wrote the vast majority of the album, and was only given 2 weeks to do so by Dahvie, and was at his breaking point. This was the final straw, and it’s clear that all this frustration, hurt and years of abuse was his biggest influence in the songwriting for this one. Because almost every single track on Scissors is a clear representation of Jayy’s feelings towards Dahvie. This album is essentially a huge middle finger to Dahvie Vanity and everything he put Jayy through over the half a decade they performed together, as well as a final farewell to the fanbase he’d grown to love so much.

This is clear from the title of the album, and even the album cover itself. I believe the central theme of Scissors to be that of severing ties. Cutting the people that make your life a misery out of your life entirely. Turning your back on all the toxicity and negativity in your life. I mean, just look at the album cover. It features Dahvie and Jayy, facing away from one another, in opposite directions, with a pair of scissors placed in between them. Perhaps I’m reading into things far too much, but given the lyrical focus of some of the songs and the context surrounding the albums creation, that image just screams “we’re going our separate ways”.

Jesus Christ, we’re so deep into this and I haven’t even started talking about the tracks yet… So let’s do just that!

The album immediately kicks things into high gear with the opening track Ringleader which is one of the bands most unique sounding songs. With an extremely bizarre, circus-themed instrumental in the beginning, and soothing, but heavily distorted, vocals, it’s almost dream-like in its presentation. Then suddenly the song just explodes into this energetic beat that slaps hard. It’s an extremely catchy and upbeat song, with the lyrics focusing heavily on criticising someone who thinks they’re a leader, like they’re the star, like they’re the centre of attention, when really they’re a nobody. They’re nothing special. And they’re just a joke, “the entire circus” as Twitter would say. The track, like many on this album, is a clear jab at Dahvie, with Jayy criticising his ego, indirectly telling him “this has never been a one man show, and you’re nothing without me”. I mean come on, the chorus literally says “There’s only one leader, and it’s never been you”. It’s a powerful and catchy track with a lot of emotion and frustration behind it, and I fucking love it.

Next we move straight into the title track Scissors which is a much slower and more melodic song, with dreamy vocals and a beautiful, electronic melody. It’s a very powerful and almost sad sounding song, with the lyrics focusing on a struggling relationship that holds itself together by destroying anything that tries to get in the middle of it. I feel this track is describing Jayy and Dahvie’s friendship, with Jayy lamenting the fact that he’s given up everything: his reputation, his friendships with others and his own mental and physical health, all for the sake of keeping his friendship with Dahvie intact. Comparing their relationship to a “pair of scissors”, they’ll remain two blades forever connected, cutting down everything that stands in their way. But like a pair of scissors, their friendship is also cold, sharp and dangerous. And ultimately something that needs to be cut off itself.

Again, perhaps I’m reading into things far too much, but that’s how I see it. And it only makes the track even more powerful and emotionally devastating than it already is on its own merits. Scissors is an amazing track, and one of the best in the bands discography.

And things only continue to get better with the next track, The Age of the Young and the Hopeless which is probably my favourite track on the entire album as well as one of my favourite songs of all time. This song is absolutely incredible and is yet another slow paced, emotionally charged track, with soothing, almost pained vocals from both Dahvie and Jayy that are just buried in weird echo effects. It’s a hopeful song about overcoming life’s struggles, proving all of your detractors wrong and achieving your dreams. It perfectly encapsulates Jayy’s vision for Blood on the Dance Floor, where he wanted to make meaningful and relatable music that their audience could resonate with. Music that could teach them something about themselves, that could tell them “you can do this”. And it sure as hell taught me that, because it’s a song that I find myself frequently coming back to, particularly when I’m feeling down or need some motivation. It’s the best song on the album and if there’s any track I’d recommend you listen to from Scissors, it’s this one. It perfectly captures everything I love about this dumb, controversial and probably musically terrible, band. This is why I love Blood on the Dance Floor. No one else can deliver a song that sounds like this, while also appealing to me on an emotional and personal level. I’m grateful that this band existed, because without them, I’d have never found life-changing music like this track. It’s just incredible. And fuck anyone who tries to say this band has no appeal or nothing meaningful to say.

Afterwards, things get a little less interesting with I am Not in Love Anymore, which isn’t a bad track by any means, but when compared to likes of Ringleader and Scissors it feels like a bit of a weak link. It’s a much heavier song that stands out due to having some overdriven guitars and heavy drums during the chorus and much heavier vocals. There’s not an awful lot going on here lyrically either compared to most of the other tracks, and it’s more just a song about heartbreak and no longer being in love with someone. It isn’t terrible or anything, but it’s definitely one of the less interesting tracks on the album.

But thankfully we move back into the albums highest points with Sorry Not Sorry which is an extremely energetic, but also soothing and emotional, Synthpop song that constantly moves back and forth between being fast-paced and slow-paced. And it features some of the best vocal performances on the album, with both Dahvie and Jayy delivering extremely melodic and beautiful singing. Jayy in particular, during the first verse, sounds like he’s on the verge of tears, really bringing his very real emotions to the forefront. And the chorus is great too, with a super catchy hook, and the lyrics hinting that Blood on the Dance Floor, in its current state, is about to come to an end. With lines like “No apologies, I’m not sorry. It wasn’t meant to be, move on without me” and “Curtains closed, it’s the end of the show, there’s nothing left to see” it’s clear that this song is yet another criticism of Dahvie and Jayy’s friendship, with Jayy letting out all of his frustrations, saying that it’s time for things to end and that he’s not sorry about putting a stop to it all. Even the verses are super powerful in delivering this message, with lines like “We vowed our love every day, and watched it turn slowly to hate”, god damn. This song is just… Filled with some very real emotions, it’s almost heartbreaking to listen to. And I fucking love it.

We then move into another one of the albums lower points with Safe Word (New) which stands out as the only sexual track on the album, although it’s nowhere near as explicit or sexually graphic as any of the bands previously explicit material. Even still, on an album full of mostly emotional songs about personal reflection and severing ties, this one just feels really out of place and I’m not the biggest fan of it because of that. The instrumental is pretty great though, with some really nice strings that are oddly beautiful, given the lyrical content of the song. It’s probably the weakest track on the album, but it’s not bad on its own merits. I don’t have much else to say about it really.

No Regrets is up next and it’s another one of the albums high points, with an incredibly energetic beat that hits hard and some really powerful vocals from both Dahvie and Jayy, particularly in the chorus where Dahvie just starts shouting, in a way that’s very reminiscent of Fallen Star in its delivery. It isn’t the best vocal performance, and is almost grating, but it feels genuine and I honestly can’t bring myself to hate it. The lyrics themselves seem to be yet another reflection of Jayy’s feelings, questioning if everything he’s done over the years was all worth it. And ultimately coming to the conclusion that, despite choosing to leave it all behind, that he has no regrets for his past actions and that he lived some of the best times of his life while performing as Jayy Von Monroe. But that he’s also ready to move on and get away from it all, because he’s had enough. It’s a fantastic song and I listen to it often.

Then we have Mess Like Me which is another slow and emotional song, with a very dreamy, soothing instrumental and yet more heavily distorted and pained vocals, with the lyrics focusing on being incredibly damaged and saying goodbye. With Scissors being Jayy’s final album with the band, and he himself being incredibly damaged from the years of abuse he was subjected to, this track almost feels like he’s saying goodbye to the fans. And that he’s sorry for everything. That he loves the fans with all his heart, but he doesn’t understand why they love a “mess” like him. It’s a final farewell in the form of one last, emotionally charged track, and it’s fucking beautiful. “I am without you now, gotta say goodbye” just… Hits me so hard in the feels every single time. God damn.

And finally, the album wraps up with the final track: Let Us All Unite! which is a very bizarre, yet interesting ending to an already bizarre and interesting album. It’s a spoken word track that plays over a very dream-like instrumental that slowly builds up as the song goes on, and… There’s really not much else to say about it. But it’s good. Very good. And it comes out of fucking nowhere, being a kind of song you’d never expect from a Blood on the Dance Floor album. At all. It’s the perfect and unique way to end this release, and it’s a hidden gem amongst the bands discography. I love it a lot.

And that more of less sums up my overall thoughts on Scissors as a whole: I love it. A lot. It’s an album that I used to find incredibly boring and difficult to get into because of how different it was compared to the bands other releases. But over time, I’ve really grown to love this album, and I think a lot of that has to do with learning the circumstances surrounding its creation. As Jayy Von Monroe’s final record with the band, and being almost entirely comprised of material written solely by him that reflects his own personal feelings of depression and anger about his time working with Dahvie, it’s an extremely emotional send-off for him. And musically the album is interesting too. It may not have the best production of all time, but the instrumentals are solid and the dreamy and melodic aesthetic is just incredible.

Scissors is an underrated gem in a discography that’s already full of underrated gems and is probably the greatest Synthpop album I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. And it’s also far and away the most emotionally genuine release in the bands catalogue, next to Bad Blood. I have no shame in giving this album a perfect score, and I can’t recommend it enough. Analysing it in depth for this Retrospective has only made me appreciate it more, and I do hope you’ll give it a listen.

This is what I look for in music. This is why I love music. This is just… Amazing. It’s emotional, it’s catchy and it’s powerful. Scissors is a masterpiece and I’m glad it exists.

Thank you Jayy Von Monroe. No, Jeremy Brian Griffis. Your talent did not go unnoticed. And I hope you know that. You said you loved us all, and we love you too.

And now, here’s some track ratings for you all:

Track Ratings:

  1. Ringleader – 9/10
  2. Scissors – 10/10
  3. The Age of the Young and the Hopeless – 10/10
  4. I am Not In Love Anymore – 6/10
  5. Sorry Not Sorry – 10/10
  6. Safe Word (New) – 6/10
  7. No Regrets – 10/10
  8. Mess Like Me – 9/10
  9. Let Us All Unite! – 8/10

Best Song(s):

The Age of the Young and the Hopeless, Scissors, Sorry Not Sorry

Worst Song(s):

I am Not In Love Anymore, Safe Word (New)

Would I Recommend It?

Yes. Absolutely. Yes. It’s a difficult album to get into, but it’s well worth the effort and if you really sit down and give it a chance, you’ll find some of the most powerful and emotionally engaging Synthpop ever created.

As Jayy’s final album with the band, I can think of no better send-off for him, and the context surrounding many of the songs is more than enough reason for me to recommend giving this one a go. Or at least give my personal picks for the best tracks a go. You won’t regret it.

What’s Next?

Next time, we’ll be taking a look at Dahvie Vanity’s second solo project, Sinners Are Winners, which he formed after Blood on the Dance Floor “broke up” following Jayy’s departure.

And Jesus Christ, there’s a lot to talk about with this one. It’s a completely different genre, being an extremely dark and heavy Industrial project with screaming vocals and incredibly aggressive lyrical themes that make Bad Blood look tame by comparison.

Sinners are Winner’s released two albums, and we’ll be looking at the first one: For Beginners. How does this side project hold up? Well, we’ll need to wait and see.

Until next time folks!

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2 thoughts on “Blood on the Dance Floor Retrospective: Scissors

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