One of my favorite new musicians right now is Hannah Collins, aka Scene Queen. Scene Queen was the first person to dub her music “bimbocore,” a feminist sub-genre that marries elements of metal, dark pop, and hard rock and presents it all in a hyper-feminized way. Bimbocore generally uses a lot of traditionally “feminine” elements, like Y2K clothing styles and lots of pink, and then backs it with bold and empowering lyrics.
I really like bimbocore. It reclaims the “girly” things that women have been told they need to forgo in order to be taken seriously and hits you like a fist to the head with an aggressive sound and intense lyrics. The candor and force that male artists usually bring to hardcore aren’t toned down at all in bimbocore, and there’s something incredibly fun and campy and empowering about tight little skirts and pink boas presenting screaming, metal-esque songs about what is pissing women off.
I wanted to talk about Scene Queen for our Sexual Assault Awareness Month edition because a lot of her music and work is a direct response to the misogyny often present in music scenes like hardcore and punk. For a community that’s centered around being yourself and going against the grain of society, there can be an unfortunate amount of bullshit leveled at the women in the scene. Whether it’s hypersexualizing female singers instead of focusing on their words, or straight-up sexual assault, the scene is not always the safe haven it’s supposed to be.
Scene Queen addresses this and other “taboo” aspects of the female experience. In Pink Rover, she sings about forcibly castrating and murdering male predators, which sounds kind of unhinged but only seems that way at first because Scene Queen is a woman. Leathermouth, a hardcore punk band, literally has a song from the perspective of Jack of the Ripper about killing women, and absolutely no one said anything when it came out in 2009.
Neither of these songs is meant to be literal or incite actual, real-life violence, but no one’s ever had a problem with men taking out their anger in violent metaphors, so why can’t women do it too? Hell hath no fury like a woman, period, and I love that Scene Queen never pulls back or censors herself. Sometimes I do want to scream about going on a murderous rampage against men who sexually harass my friends and me, and Scene Queen is providing a space for that.
The heart of bimbocore is the juxtaposition of these lyrics and the heavy, metal-riff-filled sound, against Collins’ unmistakably feminine vocals and hyper femme aesthetic. Sometimes I think people spent so long telling little girls they could do anything that no one ever stopped to tell us that that didn’t mean we had to pick just one thing. Girls can be princesses or tomboys, but girls can also be both. The color pink and climbing trees are not mutually exclusive. There’s no right or wrong way to be a woman, and Scene Queen shows that.
Scene Queen’s latest single, 18+, may be my favorite song she’s ever released. It’s a straightforward and scathing indictment of bands who use their power to prey on young female fans, like the countless scandals that rocked the infamous Warped Tour. The very first verse kicks the door down with an opening of, “Headline spot goes to the abuser/all my idols are f*cking losers./If I’m the bitch just starting rumors/what about the dogs turned into groomers?” and doesn’t for a second let up.
With a chorus of “bras hanging on the bus/yeah you get a lot of girls/but not one is eighteen plus/eighteen plus, eighteen plus, get those children off your bus,” Collins takes a perfect sniper kill shot at behavior like that of the band All Time Low, who collected fans’ bras to hang in their tour bus and were later accused by multiple women of sexual assault when the victims were young teens.
She also takes issue with the way these allegations are often just brushed under the rug, with lines like “I’ll go full icepick lobotomy/if I hear one more notes app apology,” and an interlude where a text-to-speech bot reads a cookie-cutter apology post but censors the name of the band in question which three quick beeps, which could apply to countless bands. Unfortunately, there are even countless bands with short, three-word names that have been exposed for sexual misconduct with fans – All Time Low, MSI, Dance Gavin Dance…need I go on?
A portion of all proceeds from streaming 18+ will be donated to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, which kind of just seals the deal for me on Scene Queen as a genuinely good artist. Not only does she provide a space for women to express themselves in a way we’ve always been denied and use her platform to speak against predatory behavior, but she also does what is apparently quite difficult for famous people and puts her money where her mouth is.
She’s making space and advocating for women in the public consciousness as well as directly financially supporting non-profits that look after victims of abuse. Scene Queen’s music is available on every streaming service, and if you’d like to donate directly to RAINN yourself, you can visit their website at rainn.org.