BABYMETAL was featured in the new issue of Ajet Connect Magazine issue of October 2016. The article describes the beginnings of the group, mentions Sakura Gakuin and their performances at Summer Sonic Festival in 2015 and their first time headlining the Summer Sonic 2016. Check the full article below.
BABYMETAL featured in the new issue of Ajet Connect Magazine
Let’s wind the clocks back a year or so. It’s August 2015, and I am standing at Mountain Stage at Summer Sonic a couple of acts early in order to get into good position for the Marilyn Manson show. BABYMETAL takes the stage, to a midsized but enthusiastic crowd. The three young ladies of BABYMETAL put on their scary faces, sing odes to chocolate, and prance around in front of the studio musicians that provide the “metal” to their “baby”. It is a nice enough show, and everyone involved seems to be enjoying themselves. I remember thinking they were a delightful novelty.
Cut to a year later. It is Summer Sonic 2016, and I am waiting in line at Sonic Stage for the opening act. A vast majority of the line is decked out in BABYMETAL gear or cosplaying as the band. There are Fox God masks (BABYMETAL’s patron metal deity) and dark eyeshadow as far as the eye can see. BABYMETAL is headlining Sonic stage this year, and their devoted fans are lined up nearly ten hours in advance to get in position.
So, how did we get here? If you have heard of BABYMETAL and thought, “What’s going on there?”, or better yet, if you are asking, “What’s a BABYMETAL?”, then read on.
BABYMETAL started around 2010, with the elementary/junior high school themed idol group Sakura Gakuin (Cherry Blossom Academy). Sakura Gakuin are a pretty straight-forward Japanese idol group, but with sub-groups performing various themes based on school clubs. BABYMETAL was originally the heavy metal club. The idea of fusing face-melting guitar with cutesy J-Pop warbling and choreography was a novel one, and with their first single, Doki Doki Morning (2011), they had their hook, and the video reached over one million views by the end of 2012. In 2013, they released their first album and began playing festivals like Summer Sonic, Loud Park, and Sonisphere UK. This year, they released their second album and went on a world tour to support it, appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in the US and selling out Wembley Stadium in the UK, the first Japanese act to do so. Their performance was given a five-star review in The Guardian. At this point, they can be called a legitimate phenomenon.
So why? What separates these little gals from the other novelty acts of which Japan has a plethora?
Well, for one thing, as I discovered, they seem to have evolved into the very thing they were marketed as. When BABYMETAL first came on the scene, the three titular girls had never heard of metal before, and their backing band was the “Babybones”, nameless mimes that pretended to play instruments while pre-recorded tracks played. Doki-Doki Morning played way more like pop, the rock elements solely existing to get the viewers attention. They were like a pink puffy Trapper Keeper with an Iron Maiden sticker plastered on the front, with everyone wondering, “How’d that sticker get there?”
BABYMETAL could very well have fizzled out, like so many others, but in 2012 the Kami Band, actual musicians who know their way around a guitar solo, were added for live performances, and the sound became more a fusion of metal and J-pop. The BABYMETAL mythology of the Fox God of Metal tasking them with spreading metal across the world took shape at this time as well. Combine that with pep and girlish idol charm, and you have a less of the Trapper Keeper sticker situation, and something more like chocolate malt and French fries. You wouldn’t think dipping fries into a chocolate malt would be good at first, but damned if it isn’t better than you thought.
These days, BABYMETAL is doing much better than anyone would have guessed. Though their show at Summer Sonic in 2015 wasn’t totally my thing, it was novel, it was fun, and both artist and audience were having the time of their lives during every minute of it.
Through that prism, their success isn’t much of a surprise at all. You keep on rocking, BABYMETAL.
Article by: Ajet Connect Magazine