You know how it is. You’re trying to get someones attention, by fair means or foul. You do everything you can, but try as you might, your trusty repertoire just can’t seem to get them interested. Then one day, out of nowhere, they give you their attention. You’re just minding your own business and all of a sudden, pow! They’re there. And…. you’re stuck. You weren’t prepared for this. Think on the feet time. One question overrules all others.
‘So, now I’ve got their attention, the question is, what the hell do I intend to do with it?’
This is the question facing our charges, and of the fledgeling ‘scene’ as a wider concern.
The seemingly overnight success of Babymetal has been nothing short of a phenomenon. Even in the modern and fickle age of internet sensationalism and disposable celebrity, the meteoric rise of the band from internet curiosity to multi-national super-stardom has been nothing short of miraculous. With the eponymous debut album featuring on many well respected western metal journalists ‘top tens’ and ‘most listened’ to lists, it does indeed seem that the acceptance of Babymetal as a new force to be reckoned with in rock is (more or less) universal.
So what next? Let’s examine what we know. We KNOW that there is new material in the pipeline. The unveiling of the new song at the recent Brixton show has seen to that. We KNOW that there will be more dates outside of Japan in 2015, notable in particular is Babymetal already confirmed for ‘Rock on the Range’ in Ohio playing alongside Slipknot, Linkin Park, Marylin Manson and plenty of more rock n’ roll royalty. We KNOW that there will be a Metal Resistance III, hinting at another tour of European and American locations, to the no doubt frenzied antitcipation of those not yet lucky enough to have BM bring their unique brand of kawaii-chaos their locality.
Much has been made, by Kobametal and the band staff themselves right through the fandom, about the creation of the new ‘genre’ that is Kawaii metal. So where is it going? In the early days, as always, there was a great feeling of spirit and camararderie that comes naturally with the following of a fledgeling act that can be considered ‘underground’ by it’s following. There is a ‘backs to the wall’ mentality that is always prevalent as the fans of such bands defends themselves vociferously against detractors. of which there are usually many, in particular when the band is doing something new and alien. Such bands always attain a cult following in the early days. It is not to say that, for Babymetal, this isn’t still so, but with the appearance of several bands clearly trying to emulate Babymetals success, backlash from fans has been less than positive towards these new acts, to put it mildly.
So how does the genre define itself? And what is it’s future? With a flagship act as divisive as Babymetal, one would think that for another band to come along and upset what is an applecart already in a relatively chaotic state of disarray should be unthinkable. Yet it is proving difficult for other acts, intent on following the trail that Babymetal have blazed, to gain even the smallest foothold of acceptance in a market that by rights should be ripe for further expansion. Whether that is down to over-zealous loyalty from an already fiercely committed hard-core fanbase, battle-weary and wizened from fighting constant pitched battles with metal elistists and other assorted detractors, remains to be seen. But one fact can be stated for sure. For those hoping that a ‘scene’ grows from the seeds that Babymetal have planted, fans will have to think long and hard about whether they are willing to accept other acts of a similar genesis who may feel that they have what it takes to draw the same kind of global attention that our favourite kawaii-metal from Japan have done.
For now, Babymetal sit regally as undisputed rulers of a kingdom of one. Will, or can, anyone dare to challenge them?