I think we’ve all collectively agreed that our scene phases (that typically happened during middle or high school), are bad, embarrassing and should never be talked about. Yet, I insist on talking about mine whenever I possibly can, largely because for me, that phase happened during the most formative years of my life. The emo/scene phase changed me — both musically and appearance-wise. If you didn’t go through a scene phase, you were probably hot in high school, which I was not. Instead, I tried (and failed) to dye my hair neon colours and thought that wearing a checkered lime green belt symbolized the height of originality in my stuffy uniform high school.
In 2008, the emo-crunk group Brokencyde released “Freaxxx,” a track which was almost immediately denounced as being god-awful. The song, which was a combination of screamo and early EDM/late crunk (often referred to as crunkcore) featured a chorus encouraging the listener to “get freaky now.” Among other things, the lead singer, David “Se7en” Gallegos, made it clear that he does NOT mess around with lesbians. Since its inception, “Freaxxx” has been decidedly and publicly rejected. YouTube comments from as recently as three weeks ago continue to pile on the disdain for the band, as evidenced in one particularly scathing comment from user TheDarkWut:
TheDarkWut is not alone. Even though the video has 27,000 likes, it has over 38,000 dislikes and almost all of the top comments are negative. However, despite the song’s bad reputation, it has over 1.8 million streams on Spotify, and the video has over 6.2 million views on YouTube. This all, of course, means that people were out there listening to it even after our “scene phase” supposedly ended. Honestly? I’m one of those people.
In 2008, I was in grade 9, which meant I was 14. This meant I was still young enough to think that my music taste was a reflection of my personality, and dumb enough to believe that if it wasn’t on the radio, it wasn’t “mainstream,” and therefore, it had to be good. With the exception of a wonderful summer in fifth grade, where a friend of mine named Tom (pretty much the only kid I knew who listened to rap), introduced me to Kanye West, growing up I listened almost exclusively punk rock and Eminem. My first interaction with Yeezy changed everything and The College Dropout became one of the many foundations on which I built my evolving tastes. But we’re not here to talk about how Kanye affected me, because Kanye affected everyone and we’re all the same now. We’re here to talk about Brokencyde.
Throughout elementary and high school, my friends and I listened to a lot of My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, in addition to the usual pop punk classics like All Time Low and Panic! At The Disco. As a young music fan, I had a tendency to pick up interesting-looking CDs at the library and burn them to listen to at home. I have little doubt that this gave my developing music taste some flavour. I started listening to Daft Punk and the Pet Shop Boys when I was 11 or 12, which had to have some effect on my preferences. With “Around The World” stuck in my head as a preteen and My Chemical Romance paving the way for me to explore my feelings when I was just entering high school, it’s no wonder a song like “Freaxxx” felt like a curated master track.
Musically, “Freaxxx” was a pivotal turning point for me. I mean, this was one of, if not the first song I ever heard that combined electronic and crunk elements with screamo vocals. “What a strange, glorious combination!” I must have thought. “How absolutely unique!” It was the shitty backing synth that really got me going and once I figured out why I liked it so much, there was no way back.
Shortly after “Freaxxx,” I turned to Crystal Castles, and from there, it all went downhill (or uphill?). Of course, my love for pop punk still stands strong, but I believe hearing “Freaxxx” encouraged my devotion to electronica which was further fuelled by other related emo crunkcore/emo pop-electronic acts like The Millionaires (honestly, feminist icons) and, of course, Jeffree Star.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: The song isn’t really that bad. Like, it’s definitely not good. But maybe I think it’s not that bad because to me, it really means something. To me, “Freaxxx” is a crucial beacon of my past musical history, a revelation that shines brightly and powerfully when I look back through the fog of my early musical upbringing. My introduction to Brokencyde is the moment where I can pinpoint a specific deviation in my musical taste: the moment where my preference evolved from an unabashed love of pop punk and towards an affinity for electronica.
Today, I almost exclusively listen to electronic music —an umbrella term that includes techno, EDM, drone, noise and a bunch of different genres I regularly touch upon in my music library. Reflecting on that my taste several years later, I’d be lying if I left out the influence Brokencyde had on me as a teenager.
It’s odd that this change happened with such a bizarre song. I think the strangest thing of all is the video. The outfits scream 2008 the way the lead singers scream at the frozen-faced girls starring in their video. It looks like it was filmed on somebody’s mom’s fuzzy digital camera in their good Christian suburbs, and the whole thing seems like a surreal joke about, being a teenager in in the late-2000s. Maybe the song was a statement or a joke, I didn’t make it so I can’t be certain. I just watched the music video for “Freaxxx” dozens of times over the years and let it change me.