Canino Magazine from Spain wrote an extensive article about BABYMETAL self-title album winning the Metal Hammer's Best Album Of The 21st Century. The article explains why BABYMETAL is hated by "true metalheads" and why the negative reaction of so many metal fans after the announcement. We thought that the article deserved to be translated, we hope you like it!
Canino Magazine article on "BABYMETAL" Best Album of 21st Century on Metal Hammer
According to the readers of Metal Hammer magazine, the best album of the XXI century is BABYMETAL’s self-titled debut album. This has caused the rising of deep hatred among the most conservative sector of the metal community. Why? Because time passes. Because people do not accept change. Because the heavy metal fandom already smells like crap.
The XXI century has turned out to be the century of whiners. Nor a day passes when we can wake up without some bitter controversy in which this or that product of nostalgic echoes is attacked mercilessly for ruining the childhood of people who, in any case, should not even be the target audience of these products. And yet, everything has a strange ideological echo. All that ruining never has anything to do with doing it wrong, but with changing "something." Something that is always more inclusive, more progressive, more in line with the spirit of the times. Ruining a life looks suspiciously like a situation in which, rather than having exclusively heterosexual white males as protagonists, there is also women, western people of other latitudes or, in a quasi-apocalyptic gesture, people with a different skin color or sexuality as main actors in the story. Something unacceptable for the average manchild, the perfect fusion between a conservative and a man of culturally discriminative taste.
One of the latest controversies is no less absurd than all the previous ones. And that is that, according to the readers of the Metal Hammer magazine, the best metal album of the century is the self-titled album of BABYMETAL. One consideration that has caused the rising of deep hatred in the metalhead community.
For those who do not know, BABYMETAL is a trio of teenage girls (and a support group in the shadows) that are known to fuse the best of j-pop (which can be summarized as structures of classic pop carried to a melodic complexity worthy of genres applauded in the West for their technicality) with the premises of classic metal. The same genre that fills stadiums with melodies heirs of the classical pop structure. This however does not seem to be a problem when it comes to criticize them angrily by shouting that they do not represent the true spirit of metal.
One only needs to look at the comments on the Facebook page of the magazine to see it. While the most repeated structure is: "I have nothing against BABYMETAL, but *insert here an alleged personal offense against BABYMETAL*", all reviews say exactly the same. BABYMETAL is not metal. They cannot represent what metal means. In other words, the fact that a group of Japanese teenagers, who don’t even have the decency to be burly white males singing in English, are succeeding in mobilizing masses as no other group since Rammstein or Judas Priest (two groups that today are untouchable for the fandom, but were fiercely criticized when they started; unfortunately for the manchild, even those they hate age and become hegemonic) has, is something that is considered dishonorable. Something that has ruined their lives.
The problem is conservatism. The average metal fan, male, white and Anglophone (or at least Anglophile) is used to have the whole culture in direct opposition to him. And he does so in a straight forward manner: pop is trash, punk is noise, electronic music is not real music. If we also consider that this is a genre that has historically been male, white and western, it isn’t difficult to understand why BABYMETAL are so heavily criticized: they are the antithesis of everything the average metalhead understands. They are the result of the prevailing liberalism of the century.
While it is easy to understand why BABYMETAL generates so much hatred, to explain how they have managed to be voted ‘en masse’ as the group with the best album of the past sixteen years seems more difficult. But it is not difficult at all. To understand this we need only to look at two things: the figures and what kind of audience is targeted by the band.
The first one is easy to summarize. While for the editors of the magazine the homonymous album of the Japanese group would not go above the 92nd position, having a certain unanimity among critics and public in the selection of the magazine (Slipknot’s Iowa was selected first and third among critics and audiences respectively), the public feels more affection for the Japanese girls. Something that makes spectacular numbers. We are talking about the first Japanese group that has managed to enter the Billboard Top 40 in 53 years (Kyu Sakamoto being the previous one with his precious Sukiyaki). Number one on the list of World Albums. Their concert in London managed to gather 12,000 people. Tokyo Dome in Japan has 110,000 people for two consecutive nights.
How can these figures be explained if the average metalhead despises them? Because the audience to which they are addressed is not the typical one. Their kawaii attitude, melodic style and lack of aggressiveness makes them easily digestible for a lesser male audience, but also the cultural hegemony of the manga / anime among the current teenage audience makes a proposal like theirs embraceable to the audience . Even if they don’t like the idea, BABYMETAL is not a group for the classic metal headbangers nor is metal their own private turf.
That's how everything is summarized. The world changes. And with the world, so does metal. No doubt Black Sabbath fans in their day couldn’t accept Iron Maiden, as these in turn did not accept Rammstein or Slipknot, two groups that give continuity to the classicality of the gender, nor they accept BABYMETAL a group which opens up the prospects of metal. It is only natural. But in the end they all belong to a common tradition in which, if you want to survive, you must respond to the public's expectations of each time. And just like there are still niche for groups with more classical roots, there are also others of a different order.
All BABYMETAL has done is to enter the treehouse, remove the "No Girls Trespassing" sign and remove a little bit of the musty smell of dirty scrotum. If someone considers that offensive, they will just have to learn to live with it. After all, for the majority of the audience, for tomorrow’s metalheads, BABYMETAL has made the best album of this century so far.
Article by: Canino Magazine from Spain.
Translation by: Daniel Fuentes.