You got J-Pop in my Death Metal!
You got Death Metal in my J-Pop!
Earlier this year, I came across a video of three Japanese girls in pigtails and puffy skirts singing about how chocolate is awesome, but it makes you fat. It’s the usual mindless filler you find on the internet when you are not looking for anything in particular. However, the fact that these girls also had on faux armor and were backed by a black-clad band, drums and guitars thrashing out a wall of sound, that filled me with an odd combination of bewilderment and enthusiasm. Was this good? Should I like this? Is there more? I just knew that some producer halfway around the world had decided to cobble together a target audience, and somehow that included me.
The mythology of the group is a story of how idoru control everything from culture, to business, to politics. To counter this, the ancient Fox God created Su-metal, Yuimetal, and Moametal to be dark idols and usher in the metal resistance. The back up band are…demons, I suppose.
With music from Slayer, vocals from DDR, and visuals from Lacuna Coil, Babymetal is a hodgepodge of influences and genres designed to appeal the broadest audience possible. They even managed to squeeze in some reggae and dubstep somehow. Yes, it’s all prefabricated popcorn, but the thing about prefabricated popcorn is that it tastes good regardless of the ingredients.
Now, if you put two headbangers in a room together, they will argue for hours over what is and is not “metal”. Because of this, many critics and old school rockers have criticized Babymetal for being disingenuous. However, that is not really fair. Metal is silly. It has always been silly. Anyone who can look at a depiction of some alabaster Norwegian titan bathing in the blood of his recently decapitated victims and not recognize the intentionally frivolous melodrama of the whole production is sadly missing out. Babymetal’s ability to simultaneously embrace and lampoon the genre puts it on par with Metalocalypse and the numerous, wonderful, youtube videos of little kids thrashing to the glory of Lord Satan.
Unfortunately, the idoru market is a contradiction of maintaining the status quo while constantly looking for the next big thing. Babymetal is a subgroup of Sakura Gakuin, and the girls are growing up. Suzuka is currently sixteen, while Yui and Moa are fifteen. Typically, when performers graduate junior high school they “graduate” from the group in a rather shady company practice of ensuring an ingénue only cast. Babymetal has only one album so far. Despite the viral success of singles, bizarrely entertaining music videos, and apparently good live shows, it will take a sophomore album, with whoever is left, to determine if Babymetal can be more than a short-run novelty act.
- Babymetal Death
- Megitsune (“Female Fox”)
- Gimme Choco!! (“Gimmie Chocolate!!”)
- Il ne! (“It’s Good!”)
- Benitsuki – Akatsuki – (“Crimson Moon – Dawn –”)
- Do∙Ki Do∙Ki Morning (“Heartbeat Morning”)
- Onedari Daisakusen (“Begging Operation”)
- 4 no Uta (“Song 4”)
- U∙ki U∙ki Midnight (“Cheerful Midnight”)
- Catch Me If You Can
- Akumu no Rinbukyoku (“Rondo of Nightmare”)
- Head Bangya!! (“Headbanger!!”)
- Ijime, Dame, Zettai (“No More Bullying”)