On Saturday, Aug. 9, North America's biggest heavy metal festival, Heavy Montreal, received a taste of sugar-sweet Japanese pop idols edged with heavy metal sound. The crowd had bought into the gimmick of it all, jumping, raising fists, and singing along to hit singles "Megitsune" and "Gimme Chocolate!!".
Heavy metal is no stranger to gimmicks and contrivances, but the the group Babymetal may have twisted the metal genre to new levels of darkly cute.
Established in 2010 as an off-shoot of another J-Pop group, Babymetal includes members Suzuka Nakamoto (a.k.a. Su-Metal), Yui Mizuno (a.k.a. Yuimetal) and Moa Kikuchi (a.k.a. Moametal). Babymetal is dedicated to attracting the younger audience with their twist of metalcore and electronic music. The girls wear goth schoolgirl costumes, do J-Pop styled choreograph dance routines, and head bang.
Let's lay all of the cards out on the table – metal is old and stagnant. The heavy metal bands that fans have grown up with are not getting any younger, and there hasn't been any serious changes to the genre in over two decades. Babymetal is a breath of fresh air and the playful quality of the band brought a big culture shock to metal.
“It's a strange phenomenon, is what it is,” said veteran writer Dom Lawson of Metal Hammer.
Babymetal has spun a new mindset in metal that will surely create more music crossovers. But the real question is: can you still call Babymetal's music heavy metal when it's layered with pop vocals?
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