Babymetal : The weird Japanese phenomenon that has divided metal fans

Babymetal is probably one of the weirdest music groups to gain popularity in the the mainstream metal music scene in a while. Now its not quite how it sounds its not actually a bunch of babies given instruments and metal being played behind them. It isn’t too far off that idea either. Babymetal is made of three Japanese girls Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal, two aged 17 and one aged 19, and they follow the “idol” concept which is popular in Asian countries for creating music groups. The group was the brainchild of Amuse Talent Agency which is a music company that has created many of these “idol” groups which the three members were apart of however their group oddly had an age restriction so once they graduated from junior high school.

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When older member and lead singer, Suzuka Nakamoto, graduated from that group the choice was made to continue the babymetal group even though it was only planned to be an extension of it. The band mixes Japanese “idol” pop music styling with a heavy metal influence to create what has now begun to be called “Kawaii metal” kawaii being the Japanese word for cute.

While the music isn’t really my cup of tea it is an interesting blend which does work well and is obviously popular with a lot of people considering the crazy fan base they have amassed over the past three years. The group began with moderate popularity in Japan playing big festivals that are normally reserved for rock/metal specific acts like Summer Sonic. Some of the music began to go viral on YouTube and would reach a wider audience outside of their native country. Popular YouTube channel The Fine Bros did a video of American YouTube personalities reacting to the music which also went viral. The reaction was mixed some really liked it and others really didn’t which seems to be the general consensus when talking about the group.

This hasn’t stopped the group becoming widely popular with the band playing huge stadiums like Wembley Arena in England and playing the prestigious English metal festival Download Festival. Just watch the video below to see the scale of their concerts in Japan alone filling out stadium level concert venues.

The music has some odd Christian themes to it with their concert stages previously featuring a giant figure resembling the Virgin Mary and also having a mock “crucifixion” on stage for some reason. They have also changed the classic devil horns hand symbol popular within the metal genre to one that resembles a fox and they say all that they do is because of the Fox God which is some mythical creature they have made it up giving it a bit of an odd cult feel.  The lyrical content varies from talking about bullying to talking about everyday issues that teenagers go through and doing better in school so its kind of odd knowing that with the metal background.

Many argue that Babymetal has opened up the genre to be more accessible to a wider audience with them mixing in the idol influences to give someone who wasn’t sure of the genre a taste so they can see that its not all guys with beards and tattoos headbanging to Slayer. The group have got support from big names in the genre such as Rob Zombie and Marty Friedman(guitarist for Megadeath) even performing with Rob Halford of Judas Priest and being the opening act for Metallica when they came to Japan. On the other side of it some die hard metal fans say that the three girls have no real knowledge of metal music and that it shouldn’t need to be watered down to make it more approachable. They don’t like the mix of a pop genre in with metal music and feel that it shouldn’t be as popular as it is.

Irregardless of my views or other views on their music Babymetal are big and are playing bigger venues then anyone expected them to be. They have helped to create a more casual listener for the genre which will hopefully lead to them discovering more metal music in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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