BABYMETAL

“BABYMETAL” went viral at the beginning of this year and simply put is a band that has combined J-Pop and metal. When I first saw this video I thought it was amazing and was incredibly intrigued by it because to me it’s such a strange concept; the combination of J-Pop and metal. I think Western cultures have an automatic reaction to Japanese culture as being a bit kooky and weird but I also think this is a lack of understanding and knowledge of the culture. My automatic reaction to this video was along the lines of “why?” why was it necessary to combine these two genres but the more I watched it the more I loved it, it may not be everyone’s taste but I think most people would be able to see the genius of it.

After watching their video for “ギミチョコ!!- Gimme chocolate!!” I wanted to understand why and how BABYMETAL was created thus filling some of the “unexplainable holes in my general understanding”. I was already aware of the fact that in Japan a lot of music groups are “manufactured”, meaning talent agencies create the groups. This was exactly how BABYMETAL was formed, their producer wanted to mix Japanese teen pop with metal.

As with in the lecture where we discussed what the “J” in j-pop stands for; in the case of BABYMETAL the way they emulate Japanese culture is the way they dress (similar to manga and anime characters), their synchronized dance routines and their “kawaii” (or “cute”) vocals. If you were to watch their videos without any sound they would look like most other J-Pop Idol Groups but less preppy, with the sound switched on they’re in a league of their own.

The different sites I used when exploring BABYMETAL was the video itself, which went viral via YouTube, as well as other YouTube videos, which discussed and reacted to BABYMETAL. The second time I came across BABYMETAL was in another YouTube video as part of a series created by YouTubers The Fine Brothers called “YouTubers React to BABYMETAL”. As the name would suggest, in said video various YouTubers react to BABYMETAL for the first time. Watching that video adds a whole new layer to my experience in that it shows people who reacted exactly the same as me or completely differently highlighting a new perspective on the phenomenon that is BABYMETAL.

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3 comments

  1. Hey – really interesting post. I had to read it as I am thinking of doing a similar topic for my autoethnographic studies this semester! I am so interested in music, and moving away from traditionally thought of genres when we talk about Asian music – such as K and J pop. I found it really interesting how you combined the two through Babymetal. It was cool to read about how the band was actually manufactured for popularity and revenue purpose… It really gets me thinking about how many popular artists around the world have actually done this! (Cough cough… One Direction…)
    Can’t wait to see what else you come up with.. Maybe we can compare notes!
    -Keely

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  2. This is such an interesting concept. Personally myself, I am not really interested in ‘metal’ music but I thought this subject is all about new experiences lets take a listen. This really intrigued me. I really did not enjoy the song (it’s just not my thing) but I did have a little laugh that its called “Gimmie Chocolate” which I can totally relate to! Its weird to hear this song without looking at the film clip, I didn’t imagine it to be young asian girls, they look so innocent even when they are fist pumping in the air. There is definitely a pop element in the chorus and then the rest of the song is just like metal. Its such a strange thing. Babymetal you have confused me. Show how different musical cultures are overseas compared to here. Really interesting to listen to and experience.

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  3. This particular group, and indeed, sub-genre of JPop (it’s interesting to think of J-Pop as a genre with subgenres) is SUCH a subversion of my understanding of what ‘is metal music’. It was not until watching/listening to this kind of metal that I understood that my conceptualisation of what constitutes ‘metal’ is completely and utterly westernised; why should metal be about a group of angry, generally white, grungily dressed men and women who scream hard to understand lyrics close to the microphone?
    Using the ‘YouTubers React To…’ video was a great way to add depth to your own personal experience, and it would be great to continue on this tangent in other weeks to research how different cultures understand musical conventions.

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