Alright Earthlings, it’s been a while so let’s get straight into it. I have received transmissions aboard the I.S.S. Lupus In Astra, regarding a certain “band” from Japan, three tiny earthling girls singing sweet overtures to the backing of popular metal. They are known on your planet as Babymetal and to be honest, this space warlord is entirely won over, though there are many in the heavy metal scene who are not so convinced. They divide the community and this polarity is a subject of interest to me so I have decided to offer you my thoughts to read.
I was hesitant when I first heard of Babymetal, I wasn’t sure I was ready for such a thing. I am quite bad at trying new things - it took a lot of convincing to get me to listen to Ghost, but when I did, I was immediately entranced, fan for life. But this is beside the point. While we were earthbound in the land of the rising sun earlier this year, I happened to be exposed to this new blend of super kawaii j-pop and down-tuned, riff-heavy, slightly industrial metal. I was intrigued, I was curious…I forgot all about it until we were once again in the Hellbourne Nebula. Hesitantly, I acquired their music, the self-titled album from 2014, and listened to it four times on repeat whilst catching public transport to what ended up being a very dull night of standing on the periphery of a club dance floor and wishing they would play Babymetal. I was hooked, I had bought in to the craze, the phase, the mania that was a fake band fronted by underage Japanese girls singing anime theme songs to a backing track of genre-switching pop-metal. I knew what they were doing, I could hear where they were cheating, I could tell that the gimmick was more important than the soul of the music, and yet I was 100% for it, a devotee. And you know why? Because it’s fun. Because I enjoy the works of Katy Perry and Gaga, of Queen and Skynyrd, Muse and Sevenfold. I refuse to believe that just because you are a metalhead, you can’t enjoy other genres, or variations. I love the sound of the music and that’s enough for me.
Now the water starts getting a little murky when I talked to a friend of mine who is a metalhead of the tech death persuasion, as well as a PhD in Japanese linguistics (so he is quite familiar with Japanese culture and language and such). He is vehemently against Babymetal and everything it stands for. He believes that it is a project designed by 60-year-old corporate fat-cats in Tokyo who had an excess of J-Pop stars and decided to try to explore and exploit a new market – metal. I said, yeah, I get that, they are totally manufactured and designed gimmick and all by a marketing team in a big fancy building. I agree with him, that when they started, it was all a mockery of metal and craftsmanship and soul. But having watched a few live clips of them at big Euro metal festivals, and seeing the response they got, I had to ask myself, and my friend, does it matter how they started? Does it matter that they were designed? Shouldn’t it matter more that they are playing to huge crowds of white, male, down and dirty metal heads who worship everyone from Sabbath and Motorhead to Slipknot and Lamb of God, and these moshers don’t give a shit that Babymetal is a product, they just care that they can bang their heads and mosh and dance, coz that’s what they came for. My friend told me that it is wrong that they had the opportunity to play in front of that crowd, that it should have gone to a real metal band who wrote their songs on real instruments and weren’t just a plastic corporate project. I told him that we don’t know where these girls are gonna go with this, they might bail on it after a couple of years or they might realise that there is a real call for what they do and be inspired to continue the project as a real band and break away from the corporate nature of their origins.
We agreed to disagree, he remains resolutely against Babymetal and I stand by them, especially since the new album is an absolute killer and proved that they took the group to new grounds in metal, no longer an overlay of J-Pop, but a truer fusion of styles. I am interested to hear what people have to say about Babymetal, and if you have an opinion you’d like to share, feel free to comment on the blog or Facebook and let me know, coz I am always down for a spirited debate as long as everyone remains civil (otherwise I activate your tracking chip and execute a drop pod landing in your backyard and emerge from the haze of smoke and flashing red light, axe in hand, ready for vengeance!!!!!!) Ahem, excuse me, I get a little worked up when I think about people being rude. Until next time Earthlings, take care of yourselves and All Hail The Obelisk!