Baby who?

For my individual autoethnographic research project, the focus of my investigation will be on the adorable Japanese metal band, Babymetal. The genre of music is a cross between Japanese Pop (J-Pop) and metal, and the effeminate voices of the three girls which make up Babymetal bring a refreshing change to the rock/metal genre.
I was first introduced to the band around six months ago. I love music and have been a fan of alternate styles of music for as long as I can remember, (however I must admit heavy metal has never been a preference of mine). One day as I was listening to Triple J on my apprehensive drive to work, I came across a song that I was unfamiliar with, a song that was both funky, yet heavy to a certain degree. I found myself really enjoying it even though metal is not my thing at all, and it was extremely evident that the music wasn’t stereotypical metal, more a combination of a few different genres.

I was so focused on the instrumentals of this track that, admittedly, it took me around two minutes to realise that the song I was listening to wasn’t actually in English, and that’s what intrigued me the most. Triple J considers itself a radio station for ‘alternate’ music, but in reality the music played is very westernised and it’s rare to hear a song in a different language or from a different cultural background. When the song finished the presenter announced that the artist was a Japanese metal band named Babymetal and that this ‘new’ group was taking the world by storm. I legitimately could not think of another Japanese artist that I know of or have heard on the radio, so I was quick to look up a bit about the band and what they were about. It was from this day, when I heard a Japanese metal band amongst the acoustic sounds of Chet Faker and the electronic vibes of Tame Impala, that I discovered a new found liking towards metal, and a new found respect for Triple J for exposing this diverse sound to Australian audiences.

DIGC330 is allowing me to revisit my affinity towards this band, and learn more about the style of music and culture in both an analytical and emotional way. Through autoethnographic practices such as ‘discerning patterns of cultural experience evidenced by field notes and/or artifacts, and then describing these patterns using facets of storytelling’ (Ellis, 2011) , I will obtain a deeper understanding of the band and their global reception, and aim to answer the question- what is Baybymetal?
I’ve only had a few brief encounters with Babymetal since I was first introduced to the band and I still know very little of their origin and style, so I am eager to begin my autoethnographic research. As if have not yet conducted research into the history of the band and their relevance in Japan (and the rest of the world) I decided to watch a couple of video clips produced by the band and note my observations prior to my research:

Video 1: KARATE- BABYMETAL | 20,522,673 views

• The song that I heard and seemingly the only song that gets played on Australian radio
• Eerie costumes- gothic skull like, yet feminine in the sense that they’re white and glowing
• Use of karate movements and poses as form of dance
• Powerful/thrilling graphics – gothic
• Costuming a significant part of the video – represents different sides to the narrative
• Although the music is ‘hardcore’, their voices remain feminine
• Catchy chorus
• Genre is metal but not as hardcore as traditional metal
• Even though they’re dressed in scary/gothic clothing and accompanied by loud drumbs and electric guitar, I can’t help but think how cute they are
• Use of Japanese tradition – catching fly with hand
• Style of music reminds me of Amity Affliction – heavy but still mainstream
• Refreshing to hear a female voice in this genre
• Don’t usually like this genre but actually really enjoy this song

Video 2: BABYMETAL – ギミチョコ!!- Gimme chocolate!! (OFFICIAL) 59,191,425 views


• Haven’t heard this song before but chose to watch this one because it had the most views
• Costumes significant- gothic yet feminine
• Drums heavy and loud
• Live performance video
• Dancing is succinct and a huge part of the performance
• Cute playful dancing
• Pitch remains high
• Don’t understand the lyrics but appear playful and ironic- “gimme chocolate” innocent and childlike juxtaposed to the heavy music and gothic costumes
• Red and black tutu with leather jacket- irony
• Clearly don’t take themselves too seriously- often seen giggling throughout the performance
• Some sing about loss and heart break, these girls sing about chocolate
• Remain to have cheeky smiles on their face
• VERY big crowd watching

Once I utilise sites such as Reddit and YouTube as field sites for my autoethnographic research, along with other means of research online, my next blog will revisit my initial observations and decipher what was significant to me and why. The use of epiphanies through my research will build the basis of my digital artifact and contribute to my understanding of the significance of Babymetal.

Advertisements

4 comments

  1. I am very interested to see what you find in your autoethnographic research if Babymetal. Although the band has been discussed many times in class, I have yet to do more research myself to actually know what Babymetal is. I had never heard of the band before and would have never thought of such a genre or band existing… I guess that is the Japanese/Asian world.

    In terms of your autoethnographic research into this band/genre, given that you have already been exposed to the kind of music that the band/genre produce as you mentioned hearing it on the radio the first time (your first autoethnographic experience with the text) maybe instead of asking “what is Babymetal” maybe askink and answering something along the lines of “Why does Babymetal exist and why is it a phenomenon that has been recognised all over the world in many different cultures? This way you can assess the differences in your culture versus Japanese culture and start the understand what common themes run between cultures that entice people to indulge in such texts

    I am very exited to see where this takes you and I think I will be a lot more inclined to embrace the Japanese music industry in terms of opening myself up to such bands and genres as Babymetal.

    Like

  2. I had briefly heard of this band (I think I also heard them on Triple J too!). They are definitely producing a sound that is super unique and is like nothing that is already played on Triple J, or any other radio station that I’ve listened to for that matter. What I find most interesting about this band is the clash between the cute, sweet appearance that these girls obtain, and the heavy dark music that they are producing. I also found myself (without even realising) really enjoying the music and not even noticing that the words were in Korean. It’ll be really interesting to look further into what actually is Babymetal, it would be cool if you can work out the significance of Babymetal not only over there, but look into it’s fan base here too!

    Like

  3. Already your personal recount of exploring Baby-metal through you’re autoethnology research is concise and really easy to read. I too am very excited about reading more of what you find on reddit etc. and would like to see maybe some negatives of what people are saying about Baby-metal?
    My first experience was hearing the band mentioned in DIGC330 many times and until watching the videos you have linked I had never seen or heard of them. Now I see what all the hype and popularity is about, especially if they are getting air time on triple J.
    I liked how you compared baby-metal with certain artists that are well known, and you are right it does have similar vibes. Its a band that seems to be universally understood, even though it isn’t in English, the familiarity of sounds and looks, draws a number of audiences in that can experience a culture other than their own and enjoy it.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s