Not exactly famed for a middle of the road approach to music, Lady Gaga has just announced Japanese metal band BabyMetal as support for some of the shows in her upcoming US Tour.
It is hard to truly categorise just how unusual BabyMetal are because there is, quite simply, nothing else like them. The Japanese have always been great lovers of Heavy-Metal (much to my surprise; one often gets the impression that such a proud colonial nation wouldn’t meddle in such “low-brow” music), the festivals of Japan have, in the past, helped establish “The Big Four” of Metal music and hundreds more globally renowned bands have found an incredible following in the small island nation.
Despite this, the proliferation of surreal manga, cartoons and bright colours seems to suggest that Japan is concerned with the fluffy cheerful side of life too. And Japanese pop music reflects this perfectly. Just take a look at the work of Pop group ℃-ute and you’ll understand just how surreal some Japanese music is…
But BabyMetal are odd even for the Japanese.
Lady Gaga sure knows how to pick them because BabyMetal are the surreal combination of blast-beating metal bands like Napalm Death and the recent – much lambasted – Avril Lavigne Song Hello Kitty.
And yet, somehow it is the most fascinating and interesting Metal band I’ve heard in a long time. Metal has a habit of staying very much in a safe zone of music, most groups follow very much in the footsteps of bands like Metallica and the other eighties mainstays. It’s true, there are bands which break out of the mould in various ways (Slipknot did it so well in the 2000s and Rolo Tomassi and Enter Shikari have recently brought new spins to the genre) but the majority of it remains pretty much the same old same old. BabyMetal have something about them though, they have the incredibly powerful metal music, the surreal dance routines (which so rarely accompany this kind of music!) and the novelty of having three young girls as lead singers. Will they become mainstream successes? I doubt it. But they’ll certainly be one to watch; even if just to turn to your friends and say: “Christ, have you heard this?!”