Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I ain't got the faintest idea what this is: Babymetal plot world domination with Lolita rock

Babymetal plot world domination with Lolita rock

But you know, I have to pontificate on it from within my fortress of ignorance like some kind of idiot king.  I've heard stirrings about Babymetal, but until now I could just turn away.  Every morning when I hit work, I check out this stuff on Japan Today-- which seems to draw a great portion of its content from RocketNews24-- because I want to know what's happening in my adopted home country and some of the articles prove useful for our upper level English Club activities.  And the Japan Times website puts a limit on how much you can read before you have to pay for it.  Screw that.

Thanks to this little daily ritual Babymetal leaped into my consciousness this morning because Japan Today's story about them is one of the most popular right now.  So I read about Babymetal.  And I learned Babymetal is a trio of junior high girls who mesh Lolita style with heavy metal for some reason.  Their names are Su-Metal (she gets the most quotes in the article), Yuimetal and Moametal.  They have a hit single titled "Gimme Chocolate," which continues the continuity of Japanese female rockers and singers singing about food and candy, a tradition stretching as far back as Shonen Knife's early days, which then jumped the Pacific along with Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto fame, and eventually returned to Japan and mutated into Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

My first thought as I plunged into the article was these girls are some of those musical prodigies you hear about from time to time, or see in viral videos on YouTube.  You know, the 9-year-old who can play the drum parts to Rush's "Tom Sawyer," or the kid with the four-octave voice who wows the usually heartless judges on some televised talent contest in Europe.  Just some friends taking music lessons who bonded over a mutual love of heavy metal and had connections somewhere.

Actually, from what I gathered via the article and a quick visit to Wikipedia just now, Babymetal is a manufactured group concept and the three girls have been kicking around the Japanese music scene in various junior idol singing groups for a few years now.  They don't play instruments as far as I can tell.  But at least merging two apparently diametrically-opposed ideas is fresher than simply cloning AKB48 or Perfume with children and dumping some wan pop song theme from an anime series on the charts for the ten thousandth time.  It may all be a carefully orchestrated ploy by a talent agency to make a few yen, but the girls' seeming devotion to metal gods and thrill at meeting Metallica reminds me of Electric Eel Shock, a legitimate hard rocking group who have been upholding the banner of pure rock for a number of years now.  And that's not a bad thing, either.

I'm a rock person myself and if Babymetal can act as a gateway for an infusion of new fans who go on to discover the power and glory of good, honest guitar-based rock music, then I'm all for it.  Not enough to buy a CD, but from the periphery, as a casual observer.

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