Thursday, August 14, 2014

My case against Babymetal.




So the most "controversial" metal band in 2014 is a trio of young Japanese teenagers who sing J-pop.

Oh wait, not this.


I meant this. This is Babymetal.


Seriously.

By now I'm assuming everyone reading this has heard Babymetal, which as much as I can tell is the brainchild of a pop music producer ("Kobametal", according to wikipedia ) who thought he was creating a new subgenre of metal by combining "cute Japanese girls" with angry metal music. The result being Babymetal, and their musical product is unfortunately less original than I think he intended.



Add some J-pop vocals and guitars, and you basically have the themes from Street Fighter 2.


By now it's probably obvious that I am not a fan, and even if Jeff Walker and Bill Steer from Carcass give Babymetal their blessing, that doesn't mean I have to embrace it. However, my disapproval of the band doesn't necessarily come from a metal purist perspective, at least not entirely.

I do confess to disliking the fact that the girls hadn't even heard metal music before being recruited to this band. This particular circumstance doesn't jibe with my idea of what metal is, which to say an authentic form of musical expression by angry, ugly people for angry, ugly people. I appreciate the desire to cross boundaries and redefine what metal can be, but it just seems that every time a band reaches for something commercial (even if it means "commercial in Japan") or "happy" sounding, I feel like it utterly sucks. Babymetal is no exception.

This isn't to say that I'm completely opposed to schtick or gimmicks in metal. Immortal is a freaking meme. King Diamond has been doing the facepaint thing since Mercyful Fate. Ghost, who was the most debated band prior to Babymetal, certainly has gotten mileage out of their quasi-religious imagery and hidden identities. 

Because Immortal never gets old. Just kvlt. And grym. And tr00.


Perhaps Ghost is a great point of comparison. Yes, Ghost is heavy on image, and their music is often derivative of  Deep Purple, Mercyful Fate, and metal of the late 70's. But ultimately, Ghost has also written memorable songs like "Ritual" and "Year Zero". And the whole "Satan" thing, while tongue in cheek, is definitely not commercial in the sense that "Gimme Chocolate" is (because who gets offended by teenagers who want chocolate?)


Nothing sells records like this guy!

Not to mention every song sounds like "Gimme Chocolate". Do you really want to hear this over and over again? It stops being ironic or funny after the second time.


I think that's the biggest problem I have, actually. It's not that they are a gimmick, or that they perform a style of music that I'm not particularly into. It's that everything is the gimmick, and beneath the gimmick there is nothing of substance. Yeah, it's got a slick production, impeccable musicianship by the hired guns, and the girls are choreographed, but do you remember any of their songs the moment they're done? Are we even talking about this band this time next year?

My guess is no. 

5 comments:

  1. You do? Because I don't. I don't even know what's a thing in 2016. I just know that Wormed is dropping an album in about 4 more days, and THAT's what I'm paying attention to.

    I figured everyone's still bitching about Phil Anselmo making an ass of himself. Again.

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    1. It seems Babymetal are quite the thing now in 2018. If you listen to them you're a J-popper posser, if you don't, whatever the reason, you're a close minded tr00 k00lt involutive ape. I'm in a community that mainly speaks about metal, and Babymetal invaded us in 2016, precisely. By 2017 there was a big fandom that whought it was a 14-year-old-girl band that was created 2 years before (no matter the year) and already was as famous as "your underground metal bands", which isn't something to be proud of since underground is, well, not famous. That same fandom started trying to overtake the community by spamming it with posts about Babymetal and by attacking with grrat force and furious anger those of us who would dare criticize Babymetal even in the slightest, or who they thought they do. A guy got called a jerk and a son of a bitch and spammed threats for saying "people who think they're true hate Babymetal for their clothes, their J-pop-themed lyrics and their voices". After Babymetal being declared off-topic by the staff to prevent further attacks, they started raiding us from another community, demanding to know why that happened and why "they were all mass-banned", which in fact never happened. Now they're back, because the staff thought it was a good idea to test them, and they're even worse. Not saying all are, but the ones I met and the ones I keep meeting sound like part of a cult in which Babymetal are their angels, "Kobametal" is their prophet, who claims he receives the words of a "Fox God" (kitsune), the diaries of the girls, probably written by managers (or "Kobametal" himself) to fit the personalities that were chosen for the girls depending on their appearance are their sacred texts, and they're the holy crusaders that must defend them from us infidels. An example: I received word that a mob of Babymetal fans almost lynched a member of DragonForce at a bar, because he played with them and grabbes the hands of one of them because he respects them as a band. By the way, the oldest one is 20 now.

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    2. I believe the term we use to describe this response in 2018 is "fake news."

      I'm not even sure what I'm supposed to decipher from this word salad. I presume it's a combination of "my gimmick band is still popular so you're just an underground metal caveman" ("underground metal caveman" being a badge of honor, as far as I'm concerned) and "a bunch of metal elitists made fun of me on a forum and my feelings got hurt." Perhaps this is just a blatant troll. Whatever, I'll bite because I have a few minutes to kill before work.

      I don't really post on many forums and I don't really give a fuck about scene politics or the frail precious feelings of cringe inducing younger fans. So from what I gather from this incoherent diatribe is that Babymetal fans and Dragonforce fans (the Babymetal fans of the mid 2000's) don't get along, to which I say okay, nice. I think both bands have proficient musicians but nevertheless totally fucking suck. They produce syrupy sweet, nonthreatening, banal parodies of what I feel metal should be, which is ugly, brutal, rough around the edges, and uninviting. That's a personal opinion. This little corner of blogger is where I express it.

      Here's another hot take. Nothing lasts forever. Not even Motorhead. And just as I have seen previous trends in the scene come and go such as metalcore, 2nd wave black metal, the early 2000's stoner doom revival, etc...so too will you precious Babymetal pass on. I'll even allege that the only reason they haven't gone away already is because they're a popular clickbait topic on Metalsucks, Blabbermouth, and MetalInjection which makes them about as relevant as whatever terrible thing Geoff Tate thinks is "music."

      I will say this. Outside of a few friends who comment when I post these diatribes of my own to Facebook, nothing seems to get responses quite like Babymetal fans sticking up for their favorite act. Given that I get exactly 0 views here, I think speaks to the creepy ends that Weeabos who fetishize prepubescent Japanese girls as their Waifus will go to defend the avatars of their sexual frustration.

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