J-Pop Sunday – BABYMETAL

A few weeks back we took a look at our first “Idol Group” act Morning Musume. Now, let’s face it; idol groups like Morning Musume are not everyone’s cup of tea. For example, you may have been reading through the Morning Musume piece thinking “Well…Their stuff is all right, but what it’s really missing is some SPEED METAL, YEAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!” and then you might have done that rock and roll hand salute thing followed by a wave of your tongue in a vain attempt to channel the spirit of Gene Simmons. If that was an accurate description of yourself then I’m about to make you a very happy bunny. Meet BABYMETAL: An idol group off shoot, with a twist!

Rock on, lil’ Japanese girls!

Quick Guide
Suzuka Nakamoto (中元すず香) A.K.A “SU-METAL” – Lead vocals
Moa Kikuchi (菊地最愛) A.K.A “MOAMETAL” – Additional vocals
Yui Mizuno (水野由結) A.K.A “YUIMETAL” – Additional vocals
Years Active: 2010 – Present
Genre: A strange mix of Idol Pop and Metal. I call it “Kawaii Metal”.
Notable Tracks: “Doki Doki* Morning” (ウ・キ・ウ・キ★ミッドナイト) (2010), “Headbanger!!” (ヘドバンギャー!!) (2012), “Ijime, Dame, Zettai” (イジメ、ダメ、ゼッタイ/”No More Bullying”) (2013)
*Doki doki is the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound of a heartbeat.

BABYMETAL is a spin off from Sakura Gakuin (さくら学院/Cheery Blossom Academy), a by the numbers idol pop act featuring a gaggle of sickly sweet, all-singing, all-dancing Japanese teenage girls. All three members of BABYMETAL are current or former members of Sakura Gakuin; One day in 2010 someone at the group’s record label “Toy’s Factory” saw a gap in the market for an idol group that was a little bit different. As such, Suzuka, Moa and Yui were plucked from the main group, given a makeover and rebranded as SU-METAL, MOAMETAL and YUMETAL of BABYMETAL.

Before BABYMETAL: Suzuka (top left), Yui (Bottom row, second from right) and Moa (Bottom right) along with other members of the group “Sakura Gakuin”

As you can probably tell, I’m a little cynical of the way record companies work and it’s all too easy to spout off remarks such as “Bah! They’re not a real band! They’re just a bunch of pretty faces scouted by a talent agency!” However, as true as they might be, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and this bizarre fusion of music styles might make a delectable dish. With that in mind, let’s have a taste of their first single; 2010’s “Doki Doki Morning”.

With its cheerful dance routines, the video for “Doki Doki Morning” doesn’t stray far from the group’s Idol roots.

Well, it’s a song that will stick in your head, that’s for sure. Let’s move on. “Headbanger!!” from 2012 has a noticeable change in tone, less cheery idol shenanigans, more…Well, head banging! A good move in my opinion: Distancing themselves from the traditional idol routine helps them stand out from the currently crowded idol market.

There’s probably some subtext in the video for “Headbanger!!” that’s gone right over my head.

The latest release from BABYMETAL, “Ijime, Dame, Zettai” continues the march away from Idol-hood and towards the realm of heavy metal tropes. I mean, look at the video: Flaming guitar tombstones, a dude in a leather jacket who looks like Rubeus Hagrid and Dave Grohl’s secret love child, hooded robes, a forbidding landscape and even folks running around with flags! It’s got everything! The girls even pretend to play the guitar at one point!

It’s so metal it hurts! Naysayers can get lost! They might not be a “Real” band. They might not be “True” metal, but they’re a damn fine substitution and ideal for a bit of silliness!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.