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A band called BABYMETAL

Posted by Carlo Jose San Juan, MD on Saturday, July 12, 2014
    Three little teenage girls are taking on the heavy metal world with a... unique take on the sacred genre.



    Just a few days ago, my high school metal days returned to me when an old metalhead friend posted the above music video on Facebook. He had previously introduced me to the Japanese metal group Maximum the Hormone so I take his recommendations seriously. But... "Babymetal"?!

    Admittedly, I didn't know what to think of this group at first.  A trio of Japanese Idol girls fusing Bubblegum J-Pop with Heavy Metal?  How can... what the... why?!  It was all so weird and definitely not the metal I grew up with.




    However, after watching a few more videos, particularly the one above (Gimme Chocolate!) I was quickly getting sold on the idea.  The freaky visuals paired with teenage kids started to bother me less as I started to see the whole picture more and more.  You know what?  J-Pop and Heavy Metal fusion may actually make sense!  They both share some characteristics, especially the penchant for the grandoise, the dramatic, and the need to just have some unrestricted fun.

    I learned later on that Babymetal is a "manufactured band".  Meaning, the band members were recruited and trained to perform a proposed theme for a music group by a producer.  I believe, though I may be mistaken, that this is a norm for Japanese Idol groups and singers. But Babymetal is less a band thrown together than one meticulously assembled to form a well-oiled superhero team.  Whoever is responsible for this glorious monstrosity must be some freakin' genius or the proverbial bungling scientist who accidentally spilled Chemical-X on three little girls.

    Because whatever the recipe was, it was done near-flawlessly.  Someone got metal down to a science.

    So who is Babymetal?  The lead singer is Suzuka Nakamoto, known as "Su-Metal" in the band, a 16-year old girl whose vocal abilities are well beyond her years.  She apparently portrays the badass of the group as well, as she often stands and poses, arms crossed, with a stoic face.  Flanking her on either side are Moa Kikuchi ("Moametal") and Yui Mizuno ("Yuimetal"), the group's resident screamers, background singers, and dancers.  Yes, dancers.

    Part of the group's defining characteristics is their well-choreographed dance routines.  Nothing unusual in any pop group but quite a change for a metal-purist to take in.  Nevertheless, the dance is crafted well into the band's metal themes. Instead of hip-hop stop-and-pops they often exclamate their choreography with solid power stances.  Then comes the headbanging!

    Still, it can be jarring to hear a metal song talking about chocolate cravings or having to wake up in the morning for school.  Because another thing about Babymetal, as their name implies, is that it's "cute metal".  Indeed, within their gothic lolita outfits are teenage girls who sport charming smiles and throw up "fox signs" instead of the sign of the horns, a defining metal signature.

    It all sounds odd, sure.  But come on.  They're little girls freakin' singing METAL.  That's awesome in my book.  And what do you get when all the ingredients are put together?  A damn good live performance.

    Listen to this crowd soak up the group's concert intro:


    And they recently performed in Sonisphere 2014, a metal festival which this year had metal legends like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer, Anthrax, and more featured.



(Edit 7/20/2014 - Someone made the following epic edit of the UK's Sonisphere Festival from footage from various YouTube uploads. Worth watching for the edit alone! And that Kami band is phenomenal!)
   

    At the end of all the band dissection, ultimately their appeal is that they give the crowd a good, fun time!  It's amazing to me how these teenagers from a land so far away have captured the hearts of metalheads all over the world.  You just can't help but smile when they're on stage.  And, for all their badass keeping-in-character, Babymetal, both the girls in front and the band behind them (the very excellent Kami) can't help but flash a smile every now and then.  They're clearly having a blast.
    Bolstered by the immense digital word-of-mouth that propelled them to near-metal-nirvana, these girls and everyone behind them are living a dream.  And you know what?  For so long as they can keep on giving us their brand of awesome, so are we.

"Like" Babymetal on Facebook!
Follow Babymetal on Twitter!
Visit Babymetal's website!

Post-script thoughts:
  • I can't help but be reminded of Josie and the Pussycats for some reason.
  • I also can't help but wonder how long they can pull off the "cute metal" theme with the same girls?  They'll all hit 18 years and beyond at some point.  Will they move on to being "Ladymetal" or something?  I guess we should enjoy their awesomeness while we can.
  • Speaking of "Ladymetal", they'll be opening five of Lady Gaga's upcoming shows.  That's amazing!  That's during their US debut as well.
  • Their song, "Ijime Dame Zettai", an anti-bullying song, is a signal to their mosh ("mosh'sh"?) pit to do the wall of death. WALL OF DEATH?!

  • I somehow liken their appeal to that of Adventure Time.  It's something primordial.  Or something.
    Edit 7/20/2014 - I guess it's because of the dark and faux-demonic setting. And yet you have Kawaii heroes who just want to have an adventure and fun. It somewhat underlines how important Yuimetal and Moametal are. The formula of Babymetal just wouldn't work without them.
    Edit 7/29/2014 - My comparison of Adventure Time and BABYMETAL received a revelation from another blog, the URL to which I unfortunately lost. The solution is simple, if you can look at it that way. The group was created with the younger teenage audience in mind and it just so happened to appeal to adults as well, much like the aforementioned cartoon.
  • Perhaps a great majority of metalheads are dads now?  I'd eventually show Babymetal to my daughter, for sure.
    Edit 7/20/2014 - It just warms my heart seeing these kids having a blast with metal music. Their fun is infectious! It's great seeing the metal crowd of Sonisphere 2014 really getting into their show.  With all the angst-ridden songs metal music is filled with, this happy stuff is a much needed breath of fresh air.
  • I won't lie, they've brought tears to my eyes sometimes. Such is the brilliance of the whole Babymetal package.
  • Do check out the videos for Megitsune and Head Bangya!!, my favorite songs so far.  They are embedded below.


Megitsune


Head Bangya!!

  • Edit 7/20/2014 - At this point I realize that I haven't talked much about their actual songs, at least if they're any good or not. So, really quickly, their debut album, the self-named BABYMETAL, is pretty brilliant overall. The production is pristine, the songs are catchy, and the musical and vocal performances are fantastic.  Admittedly, some songs required repeated listening to decide on whether I liked them or not but the album is so maddeningly eclectic (remember, it's J-Pop and metal fusion) that it's hard to dislike such an effort. Most of all, it's just absolutely delightful and fun! I can't say that about many metal albums.
  • Edit 7/20/2014 - "Is it right to like BABYMETAL?" So askew from orthodox metal conventions is this band that it actually causes some introspection. I apparently am not alone when it took a while for me to get on board.


Tags: babymetal  music  rock  metal 
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About the Author


Carlo Jose Caz is a practicing licensed physician, professional voice actor/talent, writer, and cartoonist. He has been working on the Callous comic strip since 1996, winning several of The LaSallian's Silver Quill awards for his work. He has written several published short stories. He currently lives in the Philippines with his wife and two children.

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