Kawaii Metal unit BABYMETAL just began their first ever World Tour that will see them traveling in three continents, and after bringing their mix of cuteness and heavy metal brutality to Paris and Cologne with two sold out shows, the three little girls from the ex Sakura Gakuin sub-unit in black and red outfits brought their sound to the audience of the Sonisphere Festival in Knewborth, England, one of the biggest and most important metal festivals in the world where bands like Iron Maiden, Slayer and Anthrax rule the stage regularly. And that’s why seeing these three little cute girls representing Japan’s innovative concept sharing the main stage with these living legends has been an amazing and, let’s admit it, surprising view; They could have just simply be located in one of the minor stages with unknown bands (and they effectively were in the beginning) but seeing their popularity increase thanks to their viral hit Gimme Chocolate!! they have been moved to the main stage where the monsters of metal reign. And they did show no sign of feeling intimated or overwhelmed in front of such a huge crowd of metalheads, but instead delivered a great performance as usual, leaving the audience in Knewborth visibly surprised and convinced that BABYMETAL isn’t a momentary trend nor a PSY-like metal phenomenon, but a valid reality where an impressive live band and three talented girls can build up a way more entertaining show than many other bands floating around in today’s stagnant metal scene.
That’s why the small fears about people dissing the girls on stage disappeared the second SU-METAL, MOA-METAL and YUI-METAL stepped on the stage and the Kami band started to rock the entire place with their Intro BABYMETAL DEATH, and the videos around the web are a clear proof of this: Part of the audience is motionless in a state of surprise mixed with growing appreciation, while others (many others) are just going crazy and enjoying the show at their best as the girls and the band play some of their iconic songs like Gimme Chocolate!!, Megitsune and also Ijime! Dame! Zettai!, where the crowd didn’t miss the chance to start some mosh’sh pit action between a Wall of Death, Circle Pits and more funny metal craziness.
After all, it’s hard not to get excited in front of the talent exposed by these girls: Suzuka’s singing is clear, powerful and full of expression, a dote extremely appreciated by the crowd that never miss the chance to scream and applause any time SU hits the highest notes without hesitation, while Moa and Yui perform a choreography perfectly synchronized with the music with lots of energy and charisma, a role of primary grade for a show that expose technical talent and pure entertainment in a funny yet professional way. The result is nothing short of amazing, and everyone in the field in front of the Apollo stage can’t deny the freshness brought by this performance and the talent of the BABYMETAL team, and even the more snobby people couldn’t do anything but admit that yes, “it was a pretty amazing performance”. Of course the haters are always around the corner, especially in the metal scene where the “True Metal” concept is still brought on by some fans that (luckily, I’d say) today are slowly disappearing in favor of a more open minded approach towards the genre and new acts trying to innovate the sound with new influences, a category that BABYMETAL definitely belong to.
So, taking all of this to a vaster point of view, how BIG is the success of these three little girls? If compared to other japanese acts that got worldwide attention in the past years (example: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu with her viral hit PON PON PON) the rise of BABYMETAL to the global scene has been way deeper and well though since the beginning.
But why? Well, It’s simple.
First of all, artists like Perfume and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, while creating their own overseas niche successfully, have never pretended to take their place in the global scene where the most famous worldwide acts reside, but instead created their space in a community of J-pop lovers that are able to appreciate their music and artistic value, and that’s a perfectly safe and legit move. But here comes the real difference between BABYMETAL and these acts, which is the musical genre itself: No one before them ever thought of fusing the Idol/J-pop concept and Heavy Metal music because, let’s be honest, it really takes a genius to make this happen in the right way: It can be a success or a total failure, there’s no middle way, and they succeeded in this perfectly. After their slow rise to gain attention in Japan after four years of career, right when they reached the mainstream reality, they wisely dropped a song like Gimme Choco!!, a catchy and funny piece that while it doesn’t appear at the top of of their best productions it successfully brought all the eyes of the world to them, using this song as bait to then surprise everyone even more with deeper and greater compositions like Akatsuki and Ijime! Dame! Zettai!, which is definitely the smartest move they could have ever made. Instead of choosing the huge and sometimes unfriendly panorama of global pop music they went with the metal scene, that while it may not look welcoming at all from the outside, nowadays is a genre that got so many variations and influences that most of its listeners have developed a wider sense of open mind towards new experiments and innovative acts, even though still ruled by bands simply doing the same thing over and over again.
With their successful performance at the Sonisphere Festival, BABYMETAL reached a big milestone not only for them as group, but also for Japanese music. It’s safe to say that we’ve hardly seen a Japanese act entering with such a great and brutal impact on a vast music scene like the Metal one and successfully obtained general appreciation, and I bet Suzuka, Yui and Moa are surprised as well of this as they will fly back to Japan in the next days to take a break before the second part of their World Tour that will see them perform in America, Canada, and also as opening act for Lady Gaga.
After all, as an ex metal fanatic I can tell you for sure that were there’s talent, real metalheads will appreciate. And these girls have tons of it.