What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen at a gig? A man losing a shoe in a mosh pit?* Someone dressed as Anna from Frozen, for no good reason? How about multiple little girls dressed in gothic tunics and bright red tutus? I saw all of these and more last weekend, when I made my first ever trip to Wembley to see Babymetal in concert.
Babymetal, for those who haven’t had the pleasure yet, are a Japanese pop trio who sing cute ditties about eating chocolate and getting ready for school against the backdrop of a metal band dressed in burial robes. They sing and dance as the band thrash away at their instruments, creating the most divisive yet oddly catchy metal music you’ll ever hear. No description really gives them justice, so it’s best just to watch them for yourself:
I first heard of them when I was asked ‘Have you heard of Babymetal?’ by a friend. Envisioning some kind of Kidz Bop style clean cut kid’s band, singing watered down versions of Metallica songs, I watched that video and feared the worst. Instead, the first ten seconds were spent by me going ‘Huh?’, and then deciding that this was one of the best things I’d ever seen.
In the world of Western pop music, Babymetal’s subject matter is a breath of fresh air.
The band, made up of main singer Su – Metal (Suzuka Nakamoto), and dancers and ‘screamers’ Yui – Metal (Yui Mizuno) and Moa – Metal (Moa Kikuchi), have one of the strangest origin stories in music. All three were originally part of traditional J-Pop group Sakura Gakuin (Cherry Blossom Academy), until the band was divided into sub groups and they were placed into the ‘heavy music group’. Having openly admitted they’d never even heard metal music before, they donned the tutus, recorded their first album, and then they exploded all over the world.
Of course, there are plenty of metal purists out there who are mad that manufactured pop is creeping into ‘their’ music. With their huge smiles and perky moves, the girls don’t exactly fit the mould of metal should be. However, that’s what makes them so brilliant.
Go through their tracklist on Spotify and discover the sheer joy they spark for yourself. ‘Awadama Fever’, from recently released second album ‘Metal Resistance’, is a frenetic ode to a bubblegum powered time machine. ‘Doki Doki Morning’ is infectiously catchy, and ‘Gimme Choco!’ will have you out of your seat before you know it. It’s just fun, plain and simple.
What I really like about Babymetal is that as well as making the strangest combination of music since Zig and Zag were marketed as ladykiller pop stars instead of glorified sock puppets, they perform songs with positive messages, especially towards young girls. ‘Iijime, Dame, Zettai’ is a rock anthem against bullying, ‘Megitsune’ rails against the idea of the ‘ideal’ woman, and ‘Gimme Choco!’ examines the pressure young girls feel under to remain thin. In the world of Western pop music, Babymetal’s subject matter is a breath of fresh air.
Hardcore metal heads, young teenagers who were excitedly attending their first gig, and the aforementioned young kids dressed up in tutus accompanied by their parents were all in attendance.
Being at Wembley to see them play, I could see just how far their influence had reached. Hardcore metal heads, young teenagers who were excitedly attending their first gig, and the aforementioned young kids dressed up in tutus accompanied by their parents were all in attendance. When the girls appeared on stage, the crowd went absolutely wild, and didn’t stop dancing and screaming along to the songs until the very end. Something about Babymetal brought them all together into the most polite and pleasant mosh pit I’d ever seen.
Their music’s not your thing? Fair enough, it’s not for everyone. However, Babymetal aren’t just pushing the boundaries of what metal can be, they’re kicking them down and then pulling some killer dance moves, just to make their point. More like them, please.
* By the way, we managed to find that guy’s shoe and return it to him thanks to Twitter. What a time to be alive.
Siobhan Harper is a freelance writer living in Birmingham UK. She strongly believes in figuring things out as you go along, but only because she's pathalogically disorganised. You can follow her adventures in writing at http://wingingitsiobhanharper.blogspot.co.uk/, or her thoughts on early mornings and dogs on Twitter at @Beatrix_Plotter.