All Hail Babymetal, the J-Pop-Loving Metal Band of the Damned
Earlier this month, news circulated widely that a metal group called Unlocking the Truth have inked a record deal worth $1.7 million with Sony Music Entertainment. Loads of outlets picked up on the item, including People, CBS News and other places where you wouldn't expect to read about no-name metal acts making business moves. Why all the hubbub? The extravagant dollar amount wasn't the draw (though it had to help), but rather the ages of Unlocking the Truth's members. The band is made up of one 12-year-old and two 13-year-olds. It's pretty odd to imagine a bunch of middle-schoolers getting deep enough into metal -- and being in-demand enough -- to make a career out of music, much less one that yields seven figures.
But if that gaggle of metal-loving minors have a peculiar story, Babymetal's is positively freaky.
Hailing from Japan, Babymetal are a group of three teenage girls -- plus some backing personnel skulking behind them -- who combine Japanese pop (aka J-pop) with death metal (throw in some speed metal and metalcore, too). A thick guitar riff crushes with a thud, followed by some deep screams. Then, bring on the bouncy, sugar-sweet vocals. Mix and match future elements as needed.
The girls wear gothy schoolgirl costumes, do choreographed dance routines and bang their heads violently. They're also gaining a hell of a following -- one substantial enough to justify them opening for Lady Gaga on their first-ever American tour. (They played their inaugural American show in Los Angeles on Sunday and kick off the Gaga tour at US Airways Center on Wednesday.)
The video for their sometimes sweet, sometimes vicious song "Gimme Chocolate!!" is currently sitting at around 12.5 million views on YouTube. It's about time you added to the tally.
Established in 2010, Babymetal are tied to the far more conventional-sounding J-pop idol group Sakura Gakuin. The band's cast of naïve-looking leads includes Suzuka Nakamoto (aka Su-Metal, who handles vocals and dancing), Yui Mizuno (aka Yuimetal), and Moa Kikuchi (aka Moametal), the latter of whom both scream and dance. Officially, they dub themselves "Kawaii METAL," making their stylistic allegiances relatively clear, but listen long enough and you'll hear some hip-hop and techno tossed into the chaos.
The trio up front aren't responsible for the actual music. That duty goes to the mysterious crew in the background of Babymetal's kinetic performances.