Remember a few months ago when Babymetal agencymates Perfume released their video for “FLASH” and everybody lost their damn minds? And then remember that fun back-and-forth here a few weeks ago about the relative dance merits of Parallel Japan vs. Babymetal?
It’s about to get weird.
Because Babymetal and Perfume have the same choreographer, see
And in a very meta moment, it’s a song from one of the other great dance units, Osaka Shunkashuto.
And I thought, you know, we always talk about image and attitude and style and, of course, music when we talk about idols, but how much do we really ever talk about this extremely important part of an overall stage performance? Continue reading →
Is this just a thing that happens in the week before TIF? It seems like everybody and their mother is either making an official release or teasing something new in the last few days, and it’s still only Tuesday and then we’ll have all of the stuff from the weekend to enjoy and … whew.
Parallel Japan! You can practically hear them dancing violently non-stop for this one.
This is the kind of punk-inspired song that you can get me really excited about. Get some of that old-school griminess in there, and drive more than bounce. Good stuff.
Let’s tell a story, one that involves yet another attempt at forming a heavy idol group and failing and coming back stronger.
I’m actually not talking about Parallel Japan, but their predecessor, Parallel 5.
Notice anything, or anyone, familiar? Like maybe a certain center for a certain idolcore phenomenon? She’s obviously doing other things now. And that’s literally the story of Parallel 5 — they formed as something of a dance unit with their own vocals, all self-produced, and then lost one of the best singers in the game probably right about the time when they were starting to feel like they were getting somewhere. “Look at Me,” after all, is a pretty okay song.
This is usually the part of the story when the rest of the group breaks up, gets repackaged, etc. But rarely are such things the choice of the members so much as it is the prerogatives of management, and Parallel 5 were running that show themselves.
So despite losses in March 2015, the remaining members — Sari, Asumi and Tibiyui — basically said, “Okay, nbd, let’s reboot.” And that’s what they did. They kept working. According to reader Caleb, they were promised debuts that never materialized. Somebody disappeared with their money; yes, Parallel Japan could very easily have a sad trombone accompaniment.
Definitely feel free to correct this, but most indications are that their first significant appearance on stage following the regroup was actually at the 2015 Tokyo Idol Festival backing up none other than Pour Lui:
They also, without a single official release, spent the autumn of that year rolling out a series of videos that really highlight what Parallel Japan is all about:
The first thing that springs to mind for me when I think about Parallel is a news segment that MTV News did following Kurt Cobain’s death. It involved interviews with mourners, one of whom remarked that he didn’t even know what to do with himself anymore, given that Nirvana was about all he listened to. “Well, them, and Mudhoney.” I’m not saying that Parallel is the Mudhoney of idolcore (not like the way that I look at Himekyun Fruit Can as the Van Halen of rock idols), but that for every ascendant master of a particular scene or sound, there are always keeping-it-real, beloved-by-fans acts at the margins, fiercely independent and just embodying grit and earned emotional expression.
That is Parallel. You can see it in their dance — crisp and professional, a cut above just about everybody else not named Q’ulle, but so expressly violent — and hear it in their songs — raw, largely unfiltered, intense and purposeful. This isn’t yami-kawaii; this spits in kawaii’s face.
But unlike with Mudhoney, I get the feeling that Parallel’s story has a happier ending, or at least a more successful one. You may have noticed that they’re suddenly all over the place, sharing stages with everybody from BiSH to Screaming Sixties to NEXT Shoujo Jiken; their anniversary show was loaded with groups featured on this site, and idol Twitter buzzed about it for days. And for what it’s worth, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a group more well-respected by their peers: Maybe because they’re independent, or maybe because they’re just plain loved, but everybody takes photos after and genuinely shows a lot of affection.
Of course, such a sudden burst of attention is bound to mean something, right? As of this writing, the scuttlebutt suggests an album, which would be very cool. If anybody out there would get a huge bump out of working with pro producer to refine their sound, it’s Parallel, and the same goes for their presentation if they can get with solid management, especially if that management doesn’t make them lose their indie edge. Like, for example, these guys. The sudden appearance of this track on Soundcloud, and the accompanying art, suggests the possibility.
So keep an eye out for Parallel. They seemed to be poised to do some serious damage.
What they sound like
A gritty combination of hard rock and idolcore. Their performing style is so well-conceived and well-executed that you can almost tell the sound of their songs just from watching them dance. Which is violent. They are violent even when nobody actually gets hurt. Violence.
You’ll like them if
This is a tough one, and I hate to bring back Seattle scene comparisons, but I actually think that you’ll be able to get into Parallel Japan best if you’re a fan of those 90s-era bands that were distorting blues rock and adding punk and metal elements. Of course, Parallel involves plenty of synths, too, in which case the PassCodes of the world can give you a good place to start.
I had thought a little while ago that Parallel had something brewing, and that wasn’t the case, but these James Browns of heavy idol haven’t exactly been still, and lately they’ve been tweeting out these cool bits of video. Here’s 30 seconds of performance:
Thanks to everybody who tweeted, commented or emailed their suggestions for artists to cover (yes, even to the people who didn’t follow directions).
Without getting into specifics, and after a spirited DM back-and-forth that ended in an agreement to disagree, we ended with four nominations:
Goho Lolita Syndrome (Lolisyn): One of my first metal units not called Babymetal, and a genuine cult favorite. I had taken them off the list of groups to profile on account of seeing that they’re disbanding at the end of this month, but the case for a profile is strong, and they’ve literally already held an on-stage funeral for their original members, so this whole current thing could just be a bit of clever kayfabe.
Momoiro Clover Z: The last thing that Momoclo needs right now is for a site like this to throw some love their way, but it’s also true that this isn’t specifically a site for underground and indie idols, but for hard idols, and Momoclo’s basically the stadium rock band of the whole idol world. Seeing no reason not to include them (and considering that they got four total nominations), I’ll work it up.
Parallel Japan: Whether it’s because they’re suddenly best friends with Guso Drop or because, befitting their status as like the Melvins of idolcore (I’ll explain later), not only have they been all over Twitter anyway, but they yielded two nominations, one of which I’m pretty sure came from Japan. That’s cool. I had wanted to have them on launch and failed, so this is a good reason to get back to it.
Lyric Holic: Self-nomination! Just going back through their stuff today made me realize how much I wish that I’d spent the time to include them in the first place.
There were also two nominations for performers already on the site, and one for You’ll Melt More!, who I’m feeling more and more like I have to do something with soon, but I’m still not convinced belong here. Regardless, again, thanks to everybody for the input, and I’ve already added these to the content calendar.