As a parent, I’m well aware that I’m woefully out of touch with today’s pop music. That’s exactly the way it should be, you might say, and a perfectly valid opinion it is too. But some of us (well me at least) would like to stay vaguely aware of what’s going on in the pop world, so that when our children start listening to pop music (if they’re not already), we have some clue what’s going on.
So, Parents’ Pop Programme is here, to introduce you to a currently successful pop artist each month. Educational? Hopefully. Enlightening? Perhaps. Enjoyable? Perhaps not.
This month – Babymetal
What are Babymetal?
A manufactured metal/J-Pop (Japanese Pop) hybrid, so essentially a metal band fronted by three Japanese teenage girls. The reverse would also be entertaining, three middle aged frontmen of metal bands singing and dancing to a J-pop backing track.Incidentally, the three vocalists are known as Su-Metal, Yuimetal and Moametal (I assume these are not their real names, if they are it’s the worlds best ever case of nominative determinism)
What do they sound like?
I’d expected the metal element of the music to be watered down, but it isn’t really. Strip out the vocals and it sounds much like the kind of music that long-haired men (and women, but y’know mainly men) would headbang to on the dancefloors of rock clubs back in the late 90s when I still used to attend them. I expected something like Lordi, the Finnish Eurovision winners, who had the visual trappings of a metal band but were not even slightly heavy. Babymetal are far from that. Vocally, they switch between a kind of epic, power ballad mode and high-pitched pop vocals, with mixed results in terms of fit between vocal and music.
Are they any good?
Not exactly to my personal tastes, but there is no denying the proficiency of the band, and the combination of the 2 genres is nowhere near as jarring as you might expect. Definitely less bad than I imagined. I kind of enjoy their song ‘Gimme Chocolate!!’, which is the most novelty of all their songs, so not sure what that says about me.
How popular are they?
Very big in Japan (both albums in the top 5), and rapidly gaining popularity elsewhere. Their most recent UK gig was a sold out show at Wembley Arena, which gives you an idea.
Which kids are listening to them?
I expected it to be snarky teenagers listening in at least semi-ironic manner, but it actually seems to be mainly genuine metallers, and not only kids and teens. There’s seems to be a bit of a split in the metal community between those who think the’re the worst thing ever to happen to the genre (because they’re ‘manufactured’ and ‘fake’) and those who think you should just lighten up and enjoy it. They have some high-profile support from the likes of Rob Zombie, Carcass and Dragonforce