Monday, April 11, 2016

In which I try to understand Babymetal

America was formally introduced to Babymetal last week, when they performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

I love it when metal of any kind gets all up in mainstream America's face. The Hollywood Vampires' performance on the Grammy Awards gave me a similar warm and fuzzy feeling.

Check out Babymetal performing "Gimme Chocolate!!" You're off to a good start with me, Babymetal. That's a sentiment I can get behind.



Then I had so many questions. Is Babymetal an entity, like Menudo, or are the girls themselves Babymetal? How did this happen? Who actually listens to this? Does anyone? Like, not for the novelty factor?

The group's Wikipedia page answers some of these quandaries. Babymetal's style is a fusion of metal and the Japanese "idol" genre. I really like and appreciate the definition of idol. It's essentially pop, but is more honest about the fact that it's creating a manufactured music star out of someone who has the right look. Anyhoo, Babymetal formed as an offshoot of a Menudo-like idol group. The three teenage girls who make up the band (ages 16-18 now) didn't know what metal was until the band formed. Adorable. They're backed by a live band called Kami Band during concerts.




Another question--can I listen to a whole Babymetal album without going insane? I gave the band's newest release, Metal Resistance, a Spotify spin to find out.

I can't say the combo of super catchy, poppy J-pop and metal doesn't work. However, while some songs on Metal Resistance sound cohesive and purposeful, others sound like a mash-up of two different songs. 

The music on Metal Resistance is actually really good. The song "KARATE" has a really great, groovy riff. and the bridge of "Awadama Fever" is pretty bad ass. Some songs toward the middle of the album feature synths pretty heavily. I'm not a huge fan of synths. "GJ!" is another standout, as is "Tales of the Destinies," which brings in some growling screams under the Metal Babies cooing.. "No Rain, No Rainbow" is a slow, power ballad sort of thing. Metal Resistance closes with a song sung in English, which sounds kind of bizarre, however it's one of the songs where the music and vocals work together really well.

The singing and melodies-- pure bubblegum. Bubblegum dipped in sugar. With cotton candy on top. 




Listening to an entire Babymetal album got pretty grating because of the vocals. I'm not anti-pop music at all, but this is just not my thing. All the songs started to sound the same to me. While the music is good, there aren't a ton of memorable riffs.

So...who actually listens to Babymetal? Somebody is. My guess would be teenage girls or dirty old men. Teen gals can get into the melodies, and are probably fascinated by that goth/punk/Lolita style.

Noisey has a cool feature called, "Who Actually Listens To..." The Black Veil Brides episode is especially entertaining:



I'd love to see one on Babymetal. And I want it to include a big, old, hairy metal head who genuinely likes the band. There's got to be one out there somewhere.

In conclusion, I just spent roughly 50 minutes blasting J-pop metal into my ear holes to write a blog post. That was my Monday. My parents are probably really proud.

Oh, and Gimme Chocolate!!
Love,

Mrs. W.

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