Hate-Listening to BABYMETAL

Hate-listening is a thing I do where I challenge myself to listen with an open mind to bands I know I’ll despise.

Does BABYMETAL need an introduction? Probably. What you already should know is that BABYMETAL went viral with their music video for “Gimme Chocolate!!” Something funny about this is, I already love this song “I Want Pancakes” by grindcore project / father-daughter duo band SOCKWEB. But they’re totally legit. BABYMETAL, is not. They’re an “idol”-type band, where some teenage girls audition to be in a band. Some suits at Amuse Inc. sat around in a board room and thought, Oh, you know where there’s marketing potential? Combining the hard-crushing sounds of metal with J-pop. Teenage boys will love it! Teen girls will love it too! You know, for the fashion. (Sorry, is that sexist?)

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being marketed to.

...here are some other things I hate though:

  • How the vocals are super-clean while everything else is dark and dirty. And the entire album has the vocals mixed way forward in the mix. It really makes all the riffage sound like it’s nothing more than background noise.
  • How god-awful it is when even any bands use tried and worn-out formulas to write pop music. The whole reason I got into metal in the first place is so I didn’t have to hear the same fucking 3-minute pop song formula over and over again. Metal celebrates breaking rules and pushing boundaries.
  • The spastic styling of the track “line!”, which starts out being sort of a heavy dancy industrial track, before fading into pure sugary J-pop, then by 1:30 they’re play J-trap. That’s right, J-TRAP, as if regurgitating some bassy beats in the middle of the song is somehow an intelligible artistic statement. Then it’s super heavy with growly vocals by 2:00. Why would a band ever do this? This actually seems like at least one part of the song is going to annoy everyone. Same complaint goes for “Song 4″, which has a reggae breakdown in it. (really) BABYMETAL - Line!

Is there anything worth checking out in this record, though? Meh. The first two tracks are totally passable as electro metal. I’m not even mad at “Megitsune” – it’s got operatic vocals, sure, but at least it’s heavy throughout without spastically jumping into other styles. And god, I hate to say it, but “Rondo of Nightmare” is heavy as fuck! Check out that MESHUGGAH riffage...

Overall, the thing I hate most about BABYMETAL is the entire industry behind it. Something I believe is true about metal, perhaps more so than any other genre, is its meritocracy. Like, I want to believe that the good metal bands rise from the ashes, and the shit bands sink. The reason people are talking about Fallujah, for example, is because they’re doing something new and incredible with a stagnant genre. You know, maybe it’s not just because someone marketed the band correctly?

And, I mean, of course there’s marketing behind any band that I’ve heard of, so maybe this is a futile argument. Metal bands do tons of ridiculous things to get attention (corpse-paint, the legends of Mayhem, girls in leather, etc. etc. to infinity). What’s offensive about BABYMETAL though, is that the marketing and profit motive came first, before the desire to create something heavy. The minds behind it know exactly the path they’re exploiting to gain popularity and financial success. They WANT metalheads to cry out in anger. And it’s working! To rub salt in the wound, 99% of metal bands don’t make enough money to live! All the bands playing by the rules of metal are losing if you judge success in a monetary way, or even if you judge success by popularity / views / whatever.


© 2015