Friday, April 08, 2016
A few nights ago, a rather interesting band was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Their name is BABYMETAL and they were making their US television debut, performing "Gimme Chocolate!" I had not heard of this band. They are metal, and yet they are also J-pop. I like metal and some J-pop but I don't know what I think of the combination in one band!
BABYMETAL was on The Late Show to promote their new album, "Metal Resistance," which just came out on April 1, 2016. Buy it from Amazon using the link at the left! This is their second album, and just entered the UK charts at number 7 -- the highest entry by a Japanese band ever. Their first is self titled and is from 2014. The band consists of three girls who sing and dance in somewhat typical J-pop fashion. Su_metal is 18 while Yuimetal and Moametal are just 16. Backing them is a speed/thrash metal band called the Kami Band, although they have also performed with members of DragonForce.
So what do they sound like? This is a rather strange mix, in my opinion! Even Stephen Colbert was perplexed when he introduced them, saying, "I'm not sure what I'm about to see!" The performance of "Gimme Chocolate! begins with a rather typical heavy metal sound -- fast loud guitars, drums at double speed. But in front are these three young girls in black and red mini-dresses and tights doing dance moves combining Sumo wrestling, J-pop dance and Gene Simmons from KISS. The 4 piece band, dressed in white robes with white face makeup, is headbanging and the girls are doing their thing. Then they begin to sing verse one in Japanese, consisting of rather quick vocalizations, as they continue dancing. The chorus soon appears, and it seems a bit more J-pop structured than the verse. The girls are singing something about Chocolate and they continue to dance with some finger pointing motions. This is followed by an instrumental break that sounds like the fast part of Welcome Home Sanitarium by Metallica. Another verse if followed by an interesting guitar solo, followed by another short verse and the chorus, with some ending ba-ba-ba-ba singing. The crowd goes wild and Colbert greets them with their new album Metal Resistance in hand, as one of the girls says Thank You!
I have to admit, as I watch this again and again, it is starting to grow on me! Have a look for yourself!
Now if you thought that was a bit odd or strange or something you never heard before... let's go back 50 years to the Group Sounds days in Japan when everyone loved The Beatles and the new sounds coming from the UK and US. One of the bigger rock bands in Japan at that time was The Mops. Perhaps they got their name from the Beatles nickname, the four mop tops, referring to their hair style.
The Mops had a song called Blind Bird. It is fairly slow and plodding, with a fuzzy guitar and bass and very little drums during the verses. The singer is singing Japanese lyrics. The song is kind of cool if you like 60s Garage Rock like I do. The very strange and disturbing part comes in the chorus, when the only words in English are sung. The English words are, "Please Kill Me!" I suppose if you are a Blind Bird, you might feel that way. Life can't be good.
Have a listen to "Blind Bird" by The Mops, and ponder on whether this old slice of strangeness from Japan outdoes the new BABYMETAL band or not!
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