I have a confession to make. The Japanese band BABYMETAL is my current obsession. I know I’m not supposed to like them, but I do.
BABYMETAL doesn’t actually consist of babies; the band is led instead by three Japanese girls, resulting in one of the most interesting juxtapositions of genre that I have heard in a long time – subverting the heavy metal stereotype, forgoing the brooding, inward looking, long-haired look, and replacing it with something that is deliciously self-aware while singing (in Japanese) of the delights of chocolate and the problem of putting on weight.
Am I in trouble? Already I’ve been heard talking about ‘girls’; even worse, ‘delicious’ girls who wanna stay thin. Enough to get me put away by the sex police, these days – even though that’s not the way I meant it.
Japanese pop mixed with heavy metal: it’s a combination that should not work but ultimately does. Deliciously drawn out guitar riffs are accompanied by enthusiastic and high pitched vocals. It feels like there is a battle going on within the songs themselves, and each track has this ebb and flow of upbeat pop and grungy heavy metal, as if the singers and the band are fighting for the spotlight. What is most surprising in all of this is that prior to their work with BABYMETAL, lead singers Suzana Yakamoto, Yui Mizuno and Moa Kikuchi had no knowledge of the metal scene (can’t say I’m surprised by this – Ed). It might not be for everyone but it’s hard not to appreciate the style this band exudes, despite – or because of – their clashing values.
Their self-titled debut album released in 2014 prompted a positive response from critics and audience alike. Their follow up album was praised particularly for its genre-bending qualities.
I was recently introduced to the band when they appeared in support of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers at the O2 arena. While RHCP left me indifferent and even a little disappointed, it was BABYMETAL that made the evening.
Afterwards I argued with myself all the way home: was this something I would allow myself to listen to? Surely not. But now I was hooked, how could I do without it?
Just don’t tell anyone, please.