|Genre||Heavy Metal, J-Pop|
BMD Fox Records
|Associated Acts||Sakura Gakuin, DragonForce|
Babymetal (stylized as BABYMETAL) is a Japanese metal idol band. Their line-up consists of Nakamoto Suzuka as "Su-metal" and Kikuchi Moa as "Moametal". The live lineup also consists of two backup dancers known as MUSCLE-METAL. The concept of the group is a fusion of the metal and idol genres. The two girls and their band are managed by the Amuse talent agency. They released their debut album of the same name in February 2014.
2010: Origins and formation Edit
The group was initially formed in 2010 as a subunit of the female idol group Sakura Gakuin, aiming to realize a "fusion of metal and idol [music]". J-pop, Kobametal (Babymetal's producer) says that he had been envisioning the creation of a group around Nakamoto Suzuka (Su-metal)'s lead vocals ever since 2009, since the time when Suzuka's group Karen Girl's disbanded. Kobametal looked around for more members and finally decided that because of Suzuka's unique stage presence, the other members should contrast her. "What if other children were dancing around her like angels?",he thought, and so asked Mizuno Yui (Yuimetal) and Kikuchi Moa (Moametal) (both were just 10 years old at the time) to participate. None of the three members knew what metal music was before the inception of the band. Suzuka Nakamoto (Su-metal) once said in an interview to MTV 81, "The first time we heard the idea for Babymetal, we were like 'What the?!'".
According to Kobametal, Babymetal's name came to him by revelation (as a "divine message"). It is a play on the words "heavy metal", as, in Japanese, the word "baby" (ベビー bebī) rhymes with "heavy" (ヘビー hebī). "Baby" may indicate cuteness, "metal" – intensity. Also, he has come to like interpreting it as "newborn metal". In an interview for Razor TV while in Singapore in late 2013, the band members also used the latter interpretation. They stated their brand of metal was a newborn genre, and that was what "baby" in "Babymetal" stood for.
2010–2012: Indie releases Edit
Babymetal's first live appearance was on November 28, 2010 at the first Sakura Gakuin's solo concert. Their first song, "Do・Ki・Do・Ki☆MORNING", was originally released in April 2011 on the Sakura Gakuin album Sakura Gakuin 2010nendo: Message. Later the band shot a music video for the song and in October 2011 released it as a DVD single intended for limited (live-venues-only) distribution. Having been uploaded to YouTube in the same October, initially the video attracted only some Japanese fans of idols, but in about a month was noticed overseas and confused and shocked people worldwide. By December 16 it was watched 380 thousand times with most views coming, apart from Japan, from North America, Russia, Sweden and Finland. Most of the 1,300 comments were in English. In a year, by the end of 2012 the video would total over 1 million views. Also, in July 2011 at a Sakura Gakuin concert Babymetal premiered a second song, "Ijime, Dame, Zettai" ("No More Bullying", with sensational lyrics against bullying), but it would only be released as a single much later, in 2013.
Babymetal's first CD single was a collaboration with a band called Kiba of Akiba and was titled "Babymetal × Kiba of Akiba". Released on an indie sublabel of Toy's Factory (Jūonbu Records, same sublabel as "Doki Doki Morning" and later "Head Bangya!!") in March 2012, it ranked 3rd on the Oricon weekly indie chart and number one in the Tower Records Shibuya weekly indie ranking.
In July 2012, Babymetal released a single titled "Headbanger!!". The music video for the title track, directed by Hidenobu Tanabe, who would be named Best Director of that year (2012) at the Space Shower Music Video Awards, narrated a story of a 15-year-old girl who found a legendary neck corset in a mysterious box that fell upon her from above. All of a sudden, the corset jumps out of her hands, wraps around her neck and turns her into "Headbangya!!". The limited version of the CD actually came in a box that included a neck corset for headbanging training.
In August 2012, Babymetal debuted at one of the biggest rock festivals in Japan, Summer Sonic. With the average age of 12, the band became the youngest act ever to perform there.
In January 2013, the band debuted on a major record label with the single "Ijime, Dame, Zettai". It sold 19,000 copies in its first week and debuted at number 6 in the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart.
In the spring of 2013, Nakamoto Suzuka (Su-metal) graduated from junior high school and therefore had to "graduate" from the group Sakura Gakuin (that consists of girls of up to junior high). However, their management decided that Babymetal would not dissolve and would continue its activities as a band. The group released its next single, titled "Megitsune" on Wednesday, June 19. On November 20, 2013, Babymetal released its first live DVD/Blu-ray Disc. The disc contained three different concerts. The Blu-ray Disc version debuted at seventh place in the weekly Oricon Blu-ray Disc charts (and at the second place among music Blu-ray Discs).
On August 10 and 11, 2013, Babymetal again took part in the Summer Sonic Festival, performing both in Tokyo and Osaka. Reportedly, Metallica members came to watch their show. Later, in October 2013, Babymetal also became the youngest act ever to perform at the heavy metal music festival Loud Park. In November 2013, Babymetal released a promo video for the Japanese premiere of Metallica's movie Through the Never.
On February 26, 2014, Babymetal released its first, self-titled album. It contained 13 tracks and was also available in a limited edition that included a DVD with music videos and live footage. The album was very well received by music critics as well as the public, selling over 37,000 copies in Japan on its first week, debuting at number 4 in Oricon and number 2 in Billboard Japan. It also topped iTunes Metal charts in the US, UK and Germany and on March 22 reached number 187 on the US Billboard 200 chart, something (entering the chart) that very few Japanese artists have achieved. Their album also made it into the Heatseekers chart at number 4.
On March 1 and 2, 2014, the band gave two concerts at Budokan. With the average age of 14.7, they became youngest-ever female act to give a show there. The two concerts were attended by 20,000 people. At the March 2 concert, a European tour, to take place in the summer, was announced.
For the beginning of their world tour, Babymetal performed shows in Paris and Cologne, which also served as the 15th birthday celebrations for Yuimetal and Moametal respectively. Babymetal made their debut appearance in the United Kingdom at theSonisphere Festival 2014. They performed on the main Apollo stage alongside bands such as Deftones, Carcass and Iron Maiden on July 5. They made their debut appearance in the US on July 27 with a headlining show at The Fonda Theatre inHollywood. They played Heavy Montréal 2014 in Canada on August 9 alongside the likes of Metallica, Slayer, and teenage metal band Unlocking the Truth, and also performed at Summer Sonic 2014 in Japan on the Mountain Stage with bands such as Avenged Sevenfold and Megadeth. Babymetal was also the opening act to five of Lady Gaga's concerts in her "ArtRave: The Artpop Ball" 2014 tour in August along the western United States.
In August it was announced that the band would be returning to England to play another show at London's O2 Academy Brixton on November 8, their final European show of the year as part of the group's "Babymetal Apocalypse" phase. It was later announced that the band would also be returning to New York City, which they had visited earlier in the year without giving an actual performance, Performing in the Hammerstein Ballroom on November 4. In September the band announced their second live album titledLegend 1999 & 1997 Apocalypse, released October 29 on Blu-ray and DVD, featuring their live performances at both the NHK Hall and at Makuhari Event Hall.
At their Brixton performance, the band debuted a new song titled "Road of Resistance". It was later revealed to be a collaboration with Sam Totman and Herman Li of prominent power metal band DragonForce. The song, featuring Li and Totman on guitars, was subsequently released as a bonus track available with the "Red Night" edition of their "Live at Budokan" album on 7 January 2015, and as part of the exclusive Fan Club "THE ONE" edition. Li later revealed via Twitter and Facebook posts that he and Totman had been working on the song's guitar parts since 2013. Shortly after the joint release with Live at Budokan - Red Night, it was released as a single on the iTunes store.
2015–present: Touring and second albumEdit
During the band's 2-day concerts in Yokohama in December of 2015, it was announced that they would be releasing a second studio album on April 1, 2016, as well as a new world tour starting in London at the Wembley Arena, and concluding in Japan with the band's debut performance in the Tokyo Dome. On January 15, 2016, the second album's title was announced to be "METAL RESISTANCE". On April 2, one day after the release of Metal Resistance, Babymetal became the first Japanese act to headline London's Wembley Arena.
On July 18, the band made a special appearance at the Alternative Press Music Awards where they performed "Karate" before being joined onstage by Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford. Halford, along with Su-metal and the Kami Band, performed an abridged version of "Painkiller", followed by a performance of "Breaking the Law" where they were rejoined by Yuimetal and Moametal on guitars.
On July 27, Metal Hammer readers voted Babymetal's debut album as the best album of the 21st century.
On September 19 (Red Night) and September 20 2016 (Black Night), Babymetal ended their Babymetal World Tour 2016: Legend - Metal Resistance by performing at the Tokyo Dome. Both nights were sold out. The attendance for each night was approximately 55,000 people. These included fans from Japan and many others from around the world. Yuimetal admits she is "still in shock" that she's playing here (Tokyo Dome). Moametal feels the same, admitting it is "definitely a big challenge for young girls of our age to stand on that stage". Su-metal explained that "In Japan we have played many big venues like Budokan and others, but Tokyo Dome was always a place that I have been dreaming of performing at."
In September 2016, Warner Bros. announce they are under development a hybrid live action-animation fantasy-adventure short form series featuring the members of the band. The series would be develop by Blue Ribbon Content in collaboration with Amuse USA (a Amuse Inc. subsidiary based in United States), the creator and producer of the band Key Kobayashi is also involve as producer.
In December 2016, Babymetal supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers during The Getaway World Tour in the UK. During their final show on the tour, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith joined Babymetal onstage to perform their covers of Judas Priest's "Painkiller" and "Breaking the Law". After the performance, Smith thanked Babymetal for being on tour with them and led the audience in singing "Happy Birthday" to Su-metal.
In January 2017, Babymetal supported Metallica for their WorldWired Tour at Gocheok Sky Dome and also appeared in Japan's performance of the Guns N' Roses' Not in This Lifetime... Tour as the opening act. In April 2017, Babymetal will support the Red Hot Chili Peppers during The Getaway World Tour in the US. In June 2017, Babymetal will perform at the KISW Pain in the Grass music event in Auburn, Washington.
In October 2017, Babymetal were officially revealed as the performers of the "Unikitty Theme" for the Unikitty! TV series.
On December 2 and December 3, 2017, Babymetal performed at the Hiroshima Green Arena, with the shows billed as "Legend -S- Baptism XX". This was the first time the group performed in Su-Metal's hometown of Hiroshima, and it was an early coming of age celebration for her since on December 20 she will turn 20 (as hinted in the show title), which is the age of majority in Japanese law; the lyrics to "Headbangerrrr!!!!", which is about a girl's fifteenth birthday, was even modified for the occasion. This also became the first time they performed an entire show without all three members on stage, since Yuimetal couldn't perform due to an unspecified illness.
In 2018, Babymetal will be performing at Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio, and at the Download Festival in Donington Park, UK. KamiBand guitarist Fujioka Mikio fell from a high astronomical observation deck on December 30 2017, and died on January 5, 2018.
On October 19, BABYMETAL officially announced the departure of Yuimetal. In her message to the fans, Yui cited physical issues and a dream for a solo career as factors impacting the decision. This news came with the release of their second single of the year, Starlight.
Musical style and lyrics Edit
The band defines its style as a new genre called "kawaii metal" ("kawaii" meaning "cute") and clarifies that it is "a mix of J-pop idol [music] and heavy metal" (because of their cute Japanese teen pop style fused together with various heavy metal styles). In the music press, the group is most commonly associated with the genres death metal, heavy metal and J-pop, but some of their songs has been classified as symphonic death metal ("Babymetal Death") and melodic speed metal ("ijime, Dame, Zettai"), and their edgy sound have been likened to electronicore ("Ii ne!"). Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman has also described the band as sounding "like Meshuggah with J-pop on top."
Before the trio formed, they previously had no experience of the metal genre. Yuimetal admitted that beforehand the concept of heavy metal actually scared her, but later stated that "It’s fun and I see why people enjoy it so much! I still don’t completely understand it, but I'm interested." Kobametal, the band's producer, aimed to create a fusion of heavy metal genres and mix them with Japanese idol music, quoting "At Amuse, we have this group called Perfume and I really like them. But I thought, if I’m gonna make a group, how would I do it? I really like metal, so I figured I’d try mixing metal and idol music."
Patrick St. Michel from MTV 81 praises the "pure, headbang-inducing energy" of the group's live performances and describes their style as a mixture of "...seemingly disparate sounds of heavy metal and idol pop, creating music anchored both by throat-mauling screeches and cuddly choruses." The magazine Metal Hammer described their act using the formula "Short skirts, school girl charm and squeaky voices — just like in the manga comics. But they mix the whole thing with Metal.".
Lyrical themes found in Babymetal's music focus on real-world issues and also typical idol-pop topics such as encouraging young teens to accept and stand up for themselves, the pressure put on teenage girls to remain thin and also bullying while they also sing about what it's like going to your first concert, the concept of an "ideal woman" and chocolate, subjects critics say are a step away from typical lyrical styles used by most metal bands.
Live performances Edit
As well as dancing, the trio all perform vocals. Su-metal is the main vocalist, credited on Babymetal's official site with vocals and dancing, while Moametal and Yuimetal are credited with scream and dance.
Babymetal's costumes take a variety of cues from the popular Japanese Gothic and Punk Lolita styles, with an emphasis on red and black. Since 2014, the trio has usually worn a variation of their now trademark costumes, first introduced in their Ijime, Dame, Zettai music video. They occasionally break from this for specific events (for example, white hooded cloaks in their Legend 1997 concert; matching kimonos for the Megitsune music video.)
With the 2015 release of new promotional artwork, a dramatically different, Samurai-inspired costume design was introduced, seemingly inspired by the armour of historical Japanese figure Gamo Ujisato.
Su-metal, the tallest of the three, is typically choreographed in the center, with the other two members positioned either side. In addition, Yuimetal and Moametal make up a sub-group called "Black Babymetal" (stylized as BLACK BABYMETAL). The dancing is choreographed by the trio's dance teacher Mikiko Mizuno, owner of the dance company 'Eleven Play' and known for her choreography with various groups including the Japanese band Perfume.
Instead of the sign of the horns, the band uses the hand gesture of the fox (or more accurately the kitsune) to symbolise the band's divine inspiration. When asked about this divinity (the 'Fox God') they replied, "We've actually never met the Fox God, but because of his blessing, we were able to become Babymetal."
In their concerts, Babymetal are accompanied by a backing band. Originally, a pretend band called "Babybone", dressed in black-and-white skeleton outfits, mimed playing instruments to playback. From mid-2012, a live band called Full Metal Band (also known as the "Gods of Metal" or "Kami Band") progressively took over accompaniment duties and now perform all music live at every concert.
The members of the Kami Band include, but are not limited to, Hideki Aoyama, BOH, Takayoshi Ohmura and Leda - all of whom are famous respected musicians active with other Japanese metal groups. Occasionally, other musicians substitute for a Kami Band member if they are unavailable, but the lineup is considered roughly fixed.
Main article: BABYMETAL Discography
- [2015.09.16] INTRODUCING BABYMETAL (rental)
- [2012.07.04] Headbanger!! (ヘドバンギャー!!)
- [2013.01.09] Ijime, Dame, Zettai (イジメ、ダメ、ゼッタイ; No, More, Bullying)
- [2013.06.19] Megitsune (メギツネ; Female Fox)
- [2011.11.02] Do・Ki・Do・Ki☆MORNING (ド・キ・ド・キ☆モーニング; Heartbeat Morning)
- [2015.01.07] Road of Resistance
- [2015.05.31] Gimme Chocolate (UK Only)
- [2016.02.25] KARATE
- [2015.06.17] BABYMETAL
- [2011.10.24] Do・Ki・Do・Ki☆MORNING (ド・キ・ド・キ☆モーニング)
- [2013.10.19] LIVE ～LEGEND I、D、Z APOCALYPSE～
- [2014.10.29] LIVE ~LEGEND 1999 & 1997 APOCALYPSE
- [2015.01.07] LIVE AT BUDOKAN ~RED NIGHT & BLACK NIGHT APOCALYPSE~
- [2015.05.20] LIVE IN LONDON -BABYMETAL WORLD TOUR 2014-
- [2015.05.20] THE ONE - Limit Blu-ray「BABYMETAL WORLD TOUR 2014 APOCALYPSE」
- [2016.11.23] Live at Wembley
- [2017.04.12] LIVE AT TOKYO DOME
Compilations / OtherEdit
- [2011.04.27] Sakura Gakuin 2010 Nendo ~message~ (#9 Do・Ki・Do・Ki☆MORNING)
- [2012.03.21] Sakura Gakuin 2011 Nendo ~FRIENDS~ (#7 Ii ne! (Vega Mix Version) )
- [2013.03.13] Sakura Gakuin 2012 Nendo ~My Generation~ (#3 Headbanger!!)
- [2014.05.05] Houkago Anthology from Sakura Gakuin (#9 Do・Ki・Do・Ki☆MORNING)
- [2016.05.25] DJ'TEKINA//SOMETHING - KAWA-EDM (#1 Headbanger!! (TEKINA REMiX))
- [2012.10.06] LIVE ～LEGEND I、D、Z APOCALYPSE～
- [2013.06.30] LIVE ~LEGEND 1999 & 1997 APOCALYPSE
- [2014.03.01] LIVE AT BUDOKAN ~RED NIGHT & BLACK NIGHT APOCALYPSE~
- [2014.07.01] BABYMETAL World Tour 2014
- [2015.01.10] LEGEND “2015” ～New Year Fox Festival～
- [2015.05.09] BABYMETAL World Tour 2015
- [2016.04.02] BABYMETAL World Tour 2016
- [2017.07.18-2017.08.30] The Five Kitsune Festival
- [2017.09.26.2017.10.14] Kyodai FOX Festival
- [2017.12.02-03] LEGEND - S - BAPTISM XX -
- [2018.05.08] BABYMETAL World Tour 2018
- [2016.12.17] "BABYMETAL" Official Band Score (「BABYMETAL」オフィシャルバンドスコア)
Awards and nominations Edit
In 2014, Babymetal was nominated for various awards. Following their selection as one of the ten best records of 2014 by record shop clerks in Japan, they are now in the running for the 7th CD Shop Awards' 2015 "Grand Prix" overall prize, the results of which will be announced in March 2015.
The group were nominated for Best Japanese Act at the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards (though the band didn't win the public vote for the "wild card" slot and was not shortlisted).
Babymetal were also nominated for the Loudwire 2014 Best New Artist of the Year award, eventually winning with an outright majority of 58% of all votes cast.
|2014||Babymetal||2014 MTV Europe Music Awards — Wild Card for Best Japanese Act||Pre-nominated|
|NEO Awards 2014 - Best Musical Act||Won|
|2015||Babymetal (album)||7th CD Shop Awards — Grand Prix||Won|
|Babymetal||Loudwire 4th Annual Music Awards — Best New Artist of the Year Award||Won|
|Kerrang! Awards 2015 — Spirit of Independence Award||Won|
|Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards 2015 — Breakthrough Award||Won|
|2015 MTV Europe Music Awards — Best Japanese Act||Nominated|
|2015 MTV Video Music Awards Japan — Best Metal Artist||Won|
|GQ Men of the Year 2015 Award, Special Prize "Discovery of the year"||Won|
|Vogue Japan Women of the Year 2015||Won|
|NEO Awards 2015 - Best Musical Act||Won|
|Loudwire 5th Annual Music Awards — Most Devoted Fans of 2015||Won|
|Loudwire 5th Annual Music Awards — Best Live Act of 2015||Won|
|"Road of Resistance"||Loudwire 5th Annual Music Awards — Best Metal Song of 2015||Won|
|2016||Babymetal||2016 Alternative Press Music Awards — Best International Band||Pending|
|METAL RESISTANCE||Loudwire — Most Anticipated Release of April 2016||Won|
- ^ The group Sakura Gakuin ("Sakura School") has a number of so-called "extra-curricular activities"/"clubs [by interest]", like a cooking club, a science club, etc. Each club has its own musical group that records its own original songs. The "Heavy Music Club" (重音部 Jūon-bu?) has three members (Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal) and releases records as a band called Babymetal.
- ^ Her words are translated from Japanese, so she didn't actually say "What the!?".
- ^ Also known as Kamiguchi (かみぐち?). The music videos he directed include "Crazy Kanzen na Otona", "Kanashiki Amefuri" and "Adam to Even no Dilemma" by the girl group Cute.
|Members||SU-METAL (L) | YUIMETAL | MOAMETAL|
|KamiBand||Takayoshi Ohmura (Guitar) | Leda Cygnus (Guitar) | Fujioka Mikio (Guitar) | BOH (Bass) | Aoyama Hideki (Drums) | Yuya Maeta (Drums)|
|Studio Albums||1. BABYMETAL | 2. METAL RESISTANCE|
|Live Albums||1. LIVE AT BUDOKAN ~RED NIGHT~ | 2. LIVE AT BUDOKAN ~BLACK NIGHT~ | 3. LIVE AT WEMBLEY|
|Singles||1. Headbanger!! | 2. Ijime, Dame, Zettai | 3. Megitsune|
|Digital Singles||1. Do・Ki・Do・Ki☆MORNING | 2. Road of Resistance | 3. Gimme Chocolate | 4. KARATE|
|Joint Singles||1. BABYMETAL×Kiba of Akiba|
|Concerts||1. LIVE ～LEGEND I、D、Z APOCALYPSE～ | 2. LIVE ~LEGEND 1999 & 1997 APOCALYPSE | 3. LIVE AT BUDOKAN ~RED NIGHT & BLACK NIGHT APOCALYPSE~ | 4. BABYMETAL World Tour 2014 | 5. LEGEND “2015” ～New Year Fox Festival～ | 6. BABYMETAL World Tour 2015 | 7. BABYMETAL World Tour 2016 | 8. Live at Wembley | 9. LIVE AT TOKYO DOME|