Seriously, People, Stop Putting Everything in Relation to BiS

I was enjoying the fact that the Alice Project videos were finally liberated from YouTube Red’s tyranny this evening, just going back through some of the stuff that had been regularly in my rotation when I was first getting all of this stuff together, and I was playing this video.

I don’t watch a lot of these videos, incidentally — I’m usually just trying to listen along. What I will do, though, is read the comments, or at least read the ones that I can actually read (that is, that are in English or something other than Japanese that I actually understand).

There’s a comment, maybe not on the first screen anymore, questioning whether this video of Alice Juban dancing on the beach is a “BiS parody.”

That person is clearly referring to the video for “Final Dance,” BiS’s last single, and that was one of their single best troll jobs: The dance-around-in-bikinis bit was a direct parody of a famous idol summer single — and summer single videos are pretty solidly of the dance-around-in-bikinis variety.

So that’s it for the context. Believe it or not, the Alice Juban members were probably dancing around in bikinis because that’s something that idols do in videos.

So that’s really two things that I’m annoyed with:

  • BiS was not being parodied (which, additionally, way to miss the point of both videos, friend).
  • NOT EVERYTHING IN IDOL SHOULD BE COMPARED TO BIS.

I’m going to do everything in my power to hook up interviews with a number of alt idols, and several of the first women I hope to interview are ex of BiS. And I’ll ask them about that, definitely, because BiS was awesome and I love that whole thing very much.

But I won’t be so insulting to those artists as to restrict the interview to that, nor will I even let it be a primary part of the discussion.

BiS mattered in their time, and they still matter, and people like Hirano Nozomi and Koshouji Megumi owe a lot to their time in BiS, but they’ve also moved on and are doing other projects, and that’s the important thing.

And for the Alice Jubans and Mugen Reginas and Screaming Sixties of the world, they exist completely independently of BiS. Maybe there’s some influence there, fandom, whatever, and maybe that’ll come up in the conversation, but sweet holy crap people, BiS was not and is not the be-all end-all of idol.

I’m so upset, I think I’m going to go watch the “BiSimulation” video on repeat.

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I Don’t Know What Guso Drop Is Doing, but I Like It

Guso Drop is one of those indie alt-idol groups that doesn’t have a huge body of work yet, but they’re putting in some work and what is available online is pretty a-okay.

I follow them on Soundcloud because that’s just one of the best ways to know what’s going on with idol units when you live on the other side of the planet and can’t read their language, and I was happy to see a track added last week.

I listened; an instrumental? That’s odd for an idol group!

Then another came in!

And you know what? They can just keep doing whatever with these. These are good tracks! I’m genuinely looking forward to how these sound when the vocals are added.

So, Guso Drop fans — is an album on the way, or are they just fleshing out the catalog a little bit?

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As If It Needed to Be Said: Babymetal Is Just on a Different Level Right Now

The other night, Japan’s WOWOW broadcast footage from Babymetal’s June spectacular at Makuhari Messe.

The first thing that I want to point out is my use of the word “spectacular.” This wasn’t a SHOW or a CONCERT, but a SPECTACULAR, related to SPECTACLE, which I’d use if not for the delicious adjective value of calling the thing a SPECTACULAR.

I’ve seen Babymetal live. As Brother Dearest pointed out recently, there’s just nothing like the anticipation of seeing silhouettes form up being that white scrim while “BABYMETAL DEATH” intros. You know that sucker’s going to come down, you know what you’re going to see and you know what’s going to happen, and you JUST CANNOT WAIT because sweet holy dog, what an opening.

That said, I can only imagine what it was like to see this:

Babymetal at Makuhari Messe in 2015; c/o Babymetal.net

Spectacular.

“Ho-hum,” you say while you stifle a yawn and feel like you’re better than me. “So Babymetal put on another gigantic performance. With the same set list that they’ve been playing since Budokan 18 months ago. With literally the same band and probably a bunch of the same people in attendance.”

You’re a jackass, Mr. Strawman.

I didn’t write this post because I wanted to celebrate another Babymetal performance that sold out in the five figures and put an exclamation point on the first part of the world tour.

I wrote this post because I can’t believe how next-goddamn-level Babymetal is right now.

And I’m not talking compared to Bellheart or Necroma or somebody (if you’re just looking for alt idols going above and beyond their peers right now, look no further than Kamen Joshi).

No, Babymetal’s on another planet compared to KISS, for bob’s sake. This is Metallica-level work. This would have been a good way to close Monsters of Rock.

I didn’t feel like bankrupting myself to go to the Wembley show in April, and I honestly don’t know how I’d try to swing that at this point (even though good seats are still available!), but seriously, if somebody wants me to be their +1 for Legend Crusader or whatever that show’s going to be, please write.

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Obligatory Ladybaby Post

So for reasons that aren’t particularly clear, like the entire J-whatever Internet world seems to be required to do or say something about Ladybaby. Why be left out?

Because death pop is undeniably a thing, and occasionally it’s a worthwhile thing, and Ladybaby is undeniably death pop, they’re profiled on this website. I also did it because SEO BITCHES!

But I’d be lying if I said that I’m particularly supportive of Ladybaby. I’d also be lying if I said that I just don’t like Ladybaby.

I don’t. There’s really no reason to. No reason to like them, honestly, but also no reason to hate them. I’ll just toss out some thoughts that I think are kind of important.

  1. Ladybaby is real. When “Nippon Manjyu” and those intro videos were first making the rounds, I mostly didn’t believe that it was anything more than an absolute flash in the pan, but they just kind of kept going and pretty soon were doing shows in Europe and the USA.
  2. Ladybaby is not worth your strong feelings. Little Brother has commented that the music is lazy, and it is, but it’s also inoffensively so (how many legitimate hits have consisted of like three chords just kind of thrown together?). The clean/death verse/chorus thing is done to death at this point, but that’s not an issue. It’s just, overall, lowest common denominator music. It’s not groundbreaking or challenging or threatening.
  3. Ladybaby is not going to last for very long. I’m amending this position: Because more idol groups are being given time to breathe, and because there’s international interest, Ladybaby won’t exhaust itself for a while yet.
  4. If you’re a Babymetal fan, you should be bothered by Ladybaby. Not because Ladybaby is any kind of a threat to Babymetal, but because Ladybaby is everything that idiotic tr00 metal fans have always accused Babymetal of being; by dint of being idol units, they’re both agency creations, and they’re both doing heavy music … and that’s it. It does feel weird to say that an idol unit put together by one of the biggest talent agencies in Japan paid its dues, but Babymetal worked their asses off for years to get to where they are, and Ladybaby … just kind of showed up and rode the wave that Babymetal (and Fruitpochette and Mugen Regina and Necronomidol and Party Rockets and Deathrabbits and etc.) built. This has happened innumerable times in the history of popular music, yes. But the little Ladybaby surge, crassly and unfairly (to everybody, honestly), just fuels the dismissal of idols who’ve done the work and built their success.
  5. I do applaud the effort. It’s not Rei or Rie or Ladybeard’s fault that they got thrown into this; the girls are looking at being idols, both won MissID and both have real-deal careers outside of this; and Ladybeard is interested in making money being Ladybeard. And good for Ladybeard for finding a career with it, at least so far. The group’s official motto is about smashing boundaries, and Ladybeard does that in spades.
  6. Most of what’s easily objectionable about Ladybaby isn’t really all that objectionable, but, this being a resource for Westerners, there is one thing that I didn’t know about at first and now kind of wish that I didn’t.

    Thanks to New School Kaidan, I learned that 14-year-old Kuromiya Rei, who I knew was a “gravure model,” was in fact the kind of gravure model that would (probably deservedly) get somebody thrown in jail in the United States. I can make a lot of cross-cultural allowances about certain things (obviously), but gross sexual exploitation of pre-teens isn’t one of them. The girl’s been exploited as an object of lust for as long as she could tie her shoes. That’s disgusting.

    Even just leaving that alone and giving Clearstone and Ladybaby management the benefit of the doubt, here’s video from the group’s NYC appearance:

    Now, lots of homicidols do stage diving. Stage diving isn’t an issue. Having a 14-year-old in a tiny skirt stage dive is an issue: As just about any woman who’s ever crowd surfed can tell you, it’s a pretty gropey environment. That isn’t a secret. Throwing Rei (and Rie, who I think was 17 at the time) into that is poor judgment at best and ongoing sexual exploitation of a teen at worst, basically setting her up for assault even if nobody actually did anything.

    Idols of all ages deal with sexualization. That’s not a secret. Ladybaby isn’t doing anything that’s all that out of the ordinary. But the whole setup with Rei stinks. It doesn’t matter if she loves every second of it.

So, in short, it’s probably most appropriate to just kind of let Ladybaby go. As is ethically* required of me by virtue of their being profiled on this website, they will appear as appropriate on the blog, and that’s that. They’ll float around for a little while, get some niche attention in the West, and that’s about it.

*Not really.

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Dammit, YouTube

You may have noticed that more than a few of the embedded videos on this site aren’t available.

The short version is that YouTube rolled out a new pricing/subscription tier, YouTube Red, and most content producers who monetize their channels need to either switch to the terms under Red, or they need to un-monetize their channels (I think; it may be that they need to let YouTube place ads on their stuff? I see different things.).

The important thing is that a number of idol-related publishers are having their content blocked in the United States right now, and it may be that they never opt to disrupt their revenue flow by changing because, frankly, they’re not making that much money from countries outside of Japan. Which will obviously be a huge loss for us, but life finds a way.

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