On Wednesday, the Japanese heavy metal/teen-pop hybrid band Babymetal played a nearly sold-out show at New York City's Hammerstein Ballroom. I didn't go, and after watching a few of their videos this morning, I'm really, really regretting it.
Try to watch the clip for "Megitsune," their second single, without grinning. I dare you.
Who is Babymetal? Suzuka Nakamoto, Yui Mizono, and Moa Kikuchi, the three teen girls who make up its roster, are either the most brutal J-pop stars in all the land or or the world's happiest metalheads. My favorite song of theirs is called "Gimme Chocolate!!", and I have no idea what it's about, but it makes me want to climb up a mountain, throw a box truck off its peak, and ride a surfboard back down.
Many, many bands have tried combining metal and hardcore's aggression with genre tics lifted from dancefloor-friendly pop, and uniformly, their songs are as terrible as their haircuts. Maybe it's Babymetal's total devotion to both sides of the equation, or the frantic enthusiasm they bring to their songs; maybe it's their choreography, their crack backing band, or their penchant for the theatrical, but somehow, they pull it off.
Rather than reading any more boring words, watch these three videos and resist the urge to dance or punch a hole through your desk.
Like any good metal band, Babymetal comes with an elaborate mythology. In an interview with MTV 81, the network's Nipponophile offshoot, the band said it was only able to form after receiving blessing from the "Fox God," and vulpine imagery plays heavily into their aesthetic (see the masks in the top image).
Whatever the Fox God is, it seems to be smiling down: Babymetal's eponymous debut peaked at number one on Billboard's world albums chart (it currently sits at 13), the band opened for Lady Gaga on several dates this year, its videos have millions of views each, and most impressively, American metalheads—maybe the snobbiest, shittiest fans in music—actually seem to like them.