Babymetal are the next big thing! This much has been made clear from the fact that they’ve been able to sell out large venues all over the world during their first-ever international tour. But, as with any new metal act who benefits from meteoric ascent, they’re not without detractors: one look at the comments section on a post about Babymetal on this or any other website should give you a good idea of the many brands of negativity being lobbed their way.
Here’s the thing: Babymetal are absolutely incredible! I haven’t been this excited about a new metal act in a looooong time. I was initially completely baffled and even averse to the concept, but I’ve come to embrace it over time and you should too. Here’s why:
1. It’s something different.
For a genre that prides itself on being made by and for outsiders, metalheads are an extremely conservative bunch that are incredibly averse to change. Babymetal are completely different than anything you’ve ever seen — and you can be forgiven if you were completely bewildered the first time you heard their music or saw one of their videos — and we salute them for stepping outside the tiny, constraining box in which heavy metal is supposed to exist. Let’s face it: metal has become very predictable. It’s easy to spot new trends and uprisings in metal from a million miles away and they move at a snail’s pace before burning up and fading out. Babymetal are completely out of left field, and they’re a breath of fresh air.
2. Babymetal make “tr00” metalheads angry.
Nothing’s better than watching a bunch of 30- or 40-somethings who’ve spent thousands of dollars having their bodies tatted up get completely emasculated by a group of teenage Japanese girls who didn’t even know what metal was a few years back. Sorry bros, these girls have more talent in their pig-tails than your stoner-post-crust-doom band will ever have in your lifetime. And they wrote a song about chocolate — FUCKING CHOCOLATE FER CHRISSAKES!! — that’s better than your stupid song about beer or weed or whatever.
3. Their music is surprisingly and incredibly advanced.
J-Pop extraordinaire Marty Friedman summed it up thusly when I spent a day with him in Tokyo (I’m paraphrasing here): “If you sit down to try and learn a Western pop song by an artist like Adele, her songs are great, but each song only has six chords in the entire thing. J-pop songs have something closer to 64 chords in them. They’re incredibly complicated.” Though Babymetal’s formula might seem like it’s got a sparkly pop veneer, dig beneath the surface and there’s nothing simple about it: it’s complicated music painstakingly written. You think it’s easy to write pop songs; it’s not! So the three girls don’t write the music themselves: who cares? Someone (or some people) does, and it’s fantastic. Most lead singers in modern metal bands don’t write the music either.
4. Excellent musicianship.
If you can’t get into the girls and their vocals, take a look at the music itself: the guys who play in Babymetal’s band are hella talented! As noted in #3 above, it’s not easy stuff to play, either. Watch this clip of the band shredding from their world tour trailer:
5. A Babymetal show is a theatrical experience.
Metal is best experienced in a sweaty, cramped venue 99% of the time, but there’s something about a massive arena show that can send chills down your spine and elevate your conscious experience to another level like a typical metal show simply cannot (see also: Iron Maiden). Metal lends itself to a theatrical experience with a massive, elaborate stage show, and Babymetal bring all that and more. For fuck’s sake, I get chills just watching this video, and it’s just a TRAILER:
6. Siqq dance moves.
When This or The Apocalypse and Structures pull their choreographed stage moves they look like a bunch of chumps desperate to make their mediocre music stand out; it’s a cry for attention. When the ladies of Babymetal dance it’s positively mesmerizing! Their style of dance is also completely fresh to the Western eye, which leads to…
7. They’re Japanese.
That Babymetal come from a place so culturally different than America increases the appeal exponentially; you could even say it is the appeal. This cannot be overlooked: Babymetal would never work if the band consisted of three 15-year old American girls. Or Canadians, or Germans, or Egyptians, or what have you. The fact that they’re from Japan in particular gives this entire thing a license to exist. And that’s because Japanese culture is SO INSANELY FASCINATING!
8. The cute factor.
For real! Absolutely adorable. I could pinch their cute little cheeks all day long!
9. It’s heavy metal you can listen to with your kids.
Rare is the band that’s high-minded enough for adults to appreciate and simple enough for kids to enjoy. Call Babymetal the Seinfeld or Simpsons of heavy metal. Crank it up and headbang with the whole family!
10. Women in metal are always a good thing.
The subject of “women in metal” is one that rears its head in the metal press once every few months or so, yet I’ve barely seen it mentioned in any coverage of Babymetal — it’s just accepted and taken for granted that the band’s members are girls. Which is a fabulous thing! Have we finally reached the point at which having women in a metal band is no big thing?
11. Babymetal can continue on forever.
In the tradition of all Japanese idol groups, when the current members of Babymetal grow too old (like, 18, I guess?) they’ll be substituted out for younger, shining stars from the Sakura Gakuin idol group from which they came, ensuring Babymetal will never suffer the fate of growing old and stale like the rest of us mortals.
12. They’re fun!
Metal these days is way too serious! It wasn’t always, but somewhere along the way we lost the plot. There’s plenty to analyze, rationalize, debate, pore over and get angry about when it comes to modern metal — and that can be totally fine — but sometimes it’s OK to just get lost in the moment and enjoy something for what it is without letting cognition interpret how you feel about it in the process. Babymetal are all about fun: get sucked into their savory, delectable choruses, be entertained by their dance moves, become enraptured by the cult of their personalities and the absurdity of not only their existence but their widespread viability. Most metalheads these days hate fun. Let go, just enjoy!