So on top of it already being busy season in idol, there have been some fairly major happenings afoot, and I am not yet just behind on all of the stuff, I am now behind on stuff that’s happened in the last couple of days. Some it’s going to have to wait! What won’t? BILLIE IDLE, for they are queens and deserving of all of our rapt attention and respect and … oh, people didn’t like this? What?
By now, you’ve probably heard the stream of “Starlight”, Babymetal’s first release in (/checks watch) two and a half years, good lord. There’s an MV, too, which we’ll get to in a second. First, though, let’s take these things in meta-chronological order and note: Yuimetal is officially out of the group:
I know! You’d think it’d be easy. I can think of bad puns right now, but none of them are even oh-Maniac-chuckle-chuckle funny, and that’s the lowest level that I strive for. What’s the point of being a fancy idol blogger if you can’t make people acknowledge that they ought to awkwardly laugh for the sake of the wild-eyed madman screaming at them in HTML about things?
Anyway. Still, no idol news of note this morning, so let’s keep plumbing recent weeks’ unpublished drafts and see what happens. Like, for instance, a new-enough group that has notably been popping up in lots of photos with other idols but is yet to generate much of a following — NEAR!
Interesting! What else do you have?
I’ll take it! This isn’t actually a new unit, per se, given that they debuted like way back in the spring, but a 2018 debut is a 2018 debut, damn it, and I’m the boss here. They’re the “most confident idol,” is the angle, which probably means that they’re basically walking ganbare fists but would be way more fun if “confident” were more along the lines of “kept in confidence,” which would allow for all kinds of neat interpretations, including my preferred epithet of NEAR as human embodiments of the Keep of Secrets from OG Warhammer (remember Warhammer!).
But naw, let’s keep it sane-ish and just say that they remind me of 969 in good ways.
For a smaller, less-followed unit, NEAR produces a ton of media to take in, so make sure to follow them on Twitter and YouTube for the goods. For instance, of the girls just celebrated her birthday in a video that looks like it was produced by Lein on a day when she really wanted to keep the demons at bay but couldn’t quite hold them all the way back:
Kerrie is a great big fan of Gokigen Teikoku. Whereas I have always enjoyed them and at times felt like they, of anybody, had the potential to really shake up idol from the grassroots, my interest was more academic. For Kerrie, it’s more visceral — she owns one of those epic Ichiho body pillow doodads, for goodness’s sake. And so, it was an incredibly difficult decision to yank this out from under her when she wasn’t able to write it up immediately, and then deliver exactly the opposite take that I’m sure she’d deliver! Ahahahahahahahaha!
So anyway, Gokitei. If you’re newer ’round these parts, they started off as one of the super-indies, having broken with their management (as a different unit with a different name) to idol how they wanted instead. Their whole approach was oddball, putting real (or the appearance of real) personality on raw display (drunk dialing your groupmates!); their music veered left and right but always within the boundaries of fun, enthusiastic and genre-disregarding. They were fun.
And they are fun still. That’s the thing — most other super-indies, as they gain popularity, wind up back in some management company’s loving arms just to deal with the logistics of it all. Not Gokitei! If anything, they’ve doubled down on their independence while continuing to riff on idol tropes, right down to having a trainee unit. It has, though, come at a cost, as the original five-member lineup has ebbed and flowed over the last couple of years and now stands at a trio, with only Ichiho left of the originals. Depending on how you hold it up to the light, I don’t think it’s out of bounds to say that she’s the closest person in idol right now to embodying what Pour Lui was doing with OG BiS, and in fact may be an even greater realization of that vision.
Have I ever mentioned the “Idols That Maniac Frequently Forgets Exist, Ranked” list? That started off as a pretty okay joke post, then became alarmingly serious as I worked on it — I seriously forget about a lot of idols. I’ll probably never publish it. But for real, BLACK NAZARENE is on there, which is a shame given the self-driven wota hype about their debut earlier in the year.
And it was a good debut! The deflation was less an issue with BLACKNAZARENE than it was wotas’ inability to sensibly respond to stimulus. Nonetheless, while the group has in fact been developing nicely and carving out their niche over the course of the year, they’ve been below the radar because they aren’t the most prolific thing in the world. Maybe they’re making a move now, though, because (as Andrew pointed out) they dropped themselves a new MV today, revealing and unacknowledged but apparent semi-abandonment of their “THUGxkawaii” image:
Well, it’s a few days late at this point, and just a quicky little post in acknowledgement, but SHINGEKI — that is, the frequently half-dressed idol unit that doesn’t have time for your “structure” and “theme” while it rocks out — dropped another new MV this week, just as I was adjusting to their new reality, and I swear they do these things at whatever interval strikes them as interesting:
I do think that every element in this song has appeared in at least one other, so that’s kind of neat
In a lot of ways, I could have just jammed this into the Weekender, but I feel almost obligated to stand by SHINGEKI at this point. Sixteen months ago, they were this bizarre on-the-fringes group that happened to employ an old personal favorite for a hot minute and made music a bump or two heavier than most; now that we’ve taken this incredible evolutionary journey together, and that they’ve proven to be compelling even if for no greater reason than their raw unpredictability, I’m all in.
Bury, whose career arc is fascinating to look at in retrospect, had themselves a birthday live (for Sayaka) yesterday, and used the occasion of bringing together their wota and a whole bunch of idol friends to unveil a new MV. Upon seeing this in the feeds at this time yesterday, I sat like an eager puppy for it to be released, only to be head-faked out until it dropped like 20 hours later instead. FINE. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that the units that you really deep-down personally support and root for are usually the ones whose stuff is worth waiting for.
I love this. Simple, straightforward punk anthems are basically the best thing in the world.
It’s so gratifying seeing Bury doing (relatively) well. It’s not typical for ultra-chika units that don’t neatly comport with any one set of expectations to generate too awful much interest beyond their most immediate wota circle, and even the ones who break out a bit usually reach a point of unsustainability where the total of all costs outweighs the slim sum of benefits. That Bury’s done is by just plain punking the hell out is really cool, a testament to them and their creative team and the determination to keep doing what you want to do. I’d buy all of them pizza if, like, we weren’t separated by thousands of miles.
As far as I know, this isn’t yet tied to any specific release, though I’m sure one will pop up soon. May everybody buy lots of copies.
In “Countdown to Extinction,” Dave Mustaine somewhat infamously* sang “Liars anagram is lairs.” I’ve been enjoying the ever-loving hell out of that incredibly cheese-dusted lyric for pretty much as long as I had the intellectual chops to understand its degree of ridiculousness. You may be able to guess why — if you’ve ever seen how I title a Malcolm Mask McLaren post, for instance, you may understand just how much I love good word play. And, for what it’s worth, that especially extends to anagrams.
So when I saw that Blue Forest group Diamondollfy had adopted a new name and look and … look, if a thing is just completely inexplicable, “Oh, is it an anagram” is always a good place to start. And along with the “new” “name,” we get a full unveiling by way of MV: Continue reading →
LADYBABY’s sort of surprise-springing this digital single on us, but I doubt that too many people are going to complain. This is a group that’s pretty much always done what they wanted, and damn the man, like they exist within this idol milieu but also somewhat apart from it. Frankly, more groups should probably operate that way!
I don’t have enough cultural context to make this work in my head, and would therefore appreciate some tutorial about why I’m wrong, but let me preface this by noting just how high my eyebrow arched when I looked at the description stuff and saw “KAWAII-DEATH” and “something something Showa era songs.” Like I don’t get entirely where they’re going with that, but … well, I presume that this is what that means:
Yeah, welcome back to another edition of Posts Maniac Meant to Quickly Write During His Break, and this is one that I actually responded to in real time as opposed to setting it up ahead of time. But after I was completely all-in on what IVOLVE was giving with their new song that doesn’t have anything to do with this single release, I felt like it was only right to follow up with the single itself, or I guess the second song from it because we already trod this ground: