What the Hell is Babymetal?
Metal music is a genre of music that transcends all parts of the world, and breaks all cultural and language barriers, from North and South America, to Europe and even Asia. From the early days of metal, and Judas Priest's classic 1979 live album Unleashed in the East, recorded in Tokyo, the music has always been popular throughout Asia, with many popular metal and rock bands originating from the continent over the years and recently, including bands like Loudness and X-Japan, Sigh, Cthonic, Crossfaith and tons more established and emerging artists and bands.
But in 2010, a new breed of metal music surfaced, with a group known as Babymetal, a rising trio of famous teenage Japanese female models, this act has a foundation of 'J-Pop,' a fast, upbeat style of pop/dance music, more suitable for clubs playing Britney Spears and other teen idols, than dive bars blasting Pantera and Behemoth. But the vocalists are backed by a band of musicians that merge the heavy sounds of Slayer, System of a Down, Slipknot, Ministry and Lamb of God, with traditional pop/dance music with hints of techno and hip hop, skillfully blending the two genres into a cohesive force that leaves many new listeners confused yet curious. It may have started in Japan, but look out...their evil is spreading.
Babymetal's sound is something that most fans of heavy metal music in America have not yet been exposed to. It is a phenomena that has not yet reached the masses in America but has already gained the momentum of millions of other fans world wide with their music videos, singles, an album and tours in Asia.
Babymetal's lyrics are sung in Japanese, and the group was formed in 2010 as a side project of the Japanese Female Idol singers, Sakura Gakuin, which translates as ' Cherry Blossom Academy.' This musical group of singers has a rotating line up of female singers in junior high and high school. Babymetal's singers are SuMetal, Moametal, and Yuimetal with a backing band of rotating and anonymous musicians who perform in full black with skulls painted as faces.
During live performances, the singers, who are all between the ages of 14 and 17, dance around the stage in a mix of club dancing and slam dancing, which can set the crowd off in a frenzy of swinging, dancing head banging and fist pumping. This image of young, skinny Japanese pop singers, with the heavy, brutal music is what many new listeners perplexed. The strangest part is that before forming the band, the singers had no prior knowledge of heavy metal music. Many people often note the sharp contrast in both sound and aesthetics of the sweet innocent looking female singers, and the singing you'd be more likely to hear at dance club, and the heaviness of the music, which at times makes you want to jump into a mosh pit.
Despite many listeners who might not be familiar with the band, and wonder whether Babymetal will ever crossover to fans outside of Asia, the cultural phenomenon of the group cannot be denied. Lately, Babymetal has been getting a lot of exposure and new fans, having released several singles, and videos that have gone viral. The band has played shows throughout Asia to thousands of screaming fans, including the Summer Sonic Festival, in Osaka, Japan, where they became the youngest artists ever to perform the three-day music fest. In late 2013, the band even released a promo trailer for Metallica's film, Through The Never. Babymetal's debut self-titled album was released in Feb., 2014 this year and contains the single 'Gimme Chocolate" as well as "Headbanger," and others.