BABYMETAL in Nikkei Business online
Here a translation of BABYMETAL interview from japanese site Nikkei Business online
Babymetal is a Japanese music group that gets best attention worldwide not by its idol-ness but by its performance. By researching its popularity coming from, we might see the new possibility of advertising Japan Culture, Cool Japan to be said.
Its success began with MV of Gimme Chocolate in ’14, its viewcount is over 32 million now. Its album was on Billboard Chart. It hit No.1 on iTunes Metal and Rock chart in western countries and southeast asian countries. Babymetal did its world tour last year in UK, France, Germany, U.S. And Canada. In the UK they performed in front of 65,000 audience at Sonisphere Festival, their quality of singing, dancing, songs, plays were praised.
Then they made their appearances on other music festivals over the world, now in their world tour again at 15 sites in 10 countries. Big names like Metallica, Megadeth and Dragonforce are on the same festivals. And they were awarded in two of popular Metal magazines. They’ll perform a solo live at famous Wembley Arena with 12,000 audience next year.
This is a series of accomplishments as Japanese artist, and exceptional as an idol. They are the youngest solo performers at Budokan, also did at big arenas like SSA and Makuhari Messe. On the other hand, they rarely appear on TV, don’t do any handshake event like other idols. Release periods of songs are slower, they’re far from “National Idol”, even their idol-ness is getting disappearing in Japan.
Then, what in them gets attention from people around the world? I (the author) am a huge fan of them, my wife sent doubtful eyes on me being excited about watching underage girls singing and dancing on YouTube. Now I believe two of us are fans…I assume these eyes are familiar to many middle aged men. Ages of Babymetal audience are varied. Men and women. Their types of music too, from Metal to idols. Fans in their 40s and 50s are not so rare.
I stood alone at a platform of Keiyo line in Tokyo station, in the band tee with red and black, to their concert at Makuhari. I felt weakness remembering my wife’s glare, but noticed many men, like me, in the same tee. Solo attendees were there. So I was much encouraged to Makuhari.Metal in Japan is said to reach its peak in 80’s, then lost its moment. So they would be that old boys who loved Metal and its heroes in these days. After long years, they found Babymetal, their love of Metal firing up again, and took their feet to the venue again. There’s a reason why people distant from idol culture accept Babymetal. They don’t use Metal as a flavor of idol performance, but they try to pursue Metal as their own power, in a high level.
The concept of Babymetal revealed through Kamishibai, is Metal Resistance (a movement of three girls taking back the moment of Metal). Each member of the back band is top notch players in Japan, their solo performances are in a program. The girls barely talk in their lives, songs performed nonstop. A lot of homage to metal songs grab metal fans’ hearts. From their lives we feel that they aims to be more Metal than idol.
Here’s the point why Babymetal is getting its success over the world. Heavy Metal has dedicated fan base in western countries and Babymetal ran straight into it, not as an idol with Metal fashion but as Metal with girls singing and dancing.
Regarding Metal is western culture, Babymetal can be said to localize idol and Kawaii boldly to western Metal culture. Not to mention, it’s not about deodorizing a smell of idol, but about making a fusion. Metal instinct of pursuing performance skills and idol ones of appealing to majority are two opposites, so making fusion of the two in a higher standard results in a unique performance never been for a Metal fans, gives an impression vividly. There’re discussions going about Babymetal is Metal or idol, or a real thing or not. The fact itself is some kind of proof that Babymetal makes the fusion to some extent, and it’s innovation.
An uncompromising fusion of opposites in a high standard – to generate something new. Babymetal might be the case of it. They even make this attempt to their ongoing story as Metal Resistance.
This can be adopted to other Japanese contents making their way to overseas? It would be just about combining something different into one. But pursuing it to the limit, new contents for new markets would be made. A problem is that such things could survive long or not. Babymetal just released its debut album. As a fan I hope their release of the second and keeps us surprised.