It was about time BABYMETAL paid homage to David Bowie. I mean, while Bowie crushed just about every pop genre on the planet except Heavy Metal, he was largely responsible for the early creation of Glam Rock.
- Without Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, we have no KISS.
- Without KISS to influence a young Yoshiki, we have no X Japan.
- With no X Japan, we have no BABYMETAL.
So when BABYMETAL’s new single, “Elevator Girl”, opens by directly channeling the piano riff from Bowie’s early 80s classic, “Modern Love”, the circle of life seems, in some ways, complete. In truth, the direct influence on this single is probably less Bowie’s soul and groove-flavored New Wave, and more the J-Pop fusion of acid jazz, funk and techno that coalesced around the same time period into the broad City Pop genre. City Pop has seen a lot of attention lately with interest from Vaporwave aesthetes, YouTube channels streaming curated City Pop feeds 24-7, and it’s own brief “I didn’t know [insert name here] put out a City Pop album” meme.
City Pop is also heavily influencing a number of current groups in the alternative idol world including early album-of-the-year contenders Atarashii Gakkou No Leaders, GuGu-LuLu and the fledgling OWA Yoru.
(This is a lot of words so far just to talk about a three-minute song. What we are seeing here is an unfortunate side effect when a group as musically fascinating as BABYMETAL only releases three pieces of new material in a twelve-month span. In the absence of an “Elevator Girl” MV to talk about, let’s continue the over-analysis:)
“Elevator Girl”’s jazzy intro runs smack into a groove metal drop for a classic BABYMETAL genre mash. It’s a frankenstein of double kick drum blast beats and dueling guitars sandwiched between sweet City Pop choruses leading to a djenty bridge and one last bright flourish. The Kami Band will probably love playing this one as it hits all of their sweet spots including complex fingering and shifts into jazz grooves. Lyrically, the song has a lot of English which probably speaks to an appeal to a mainstream Western audience prior to their recently-announced 20+ date U.S. tour.
US TOUR 2019決定DEATH！！
— BABYMETAL (@BABYMETAL_JAPAN) May 10, 2019
Among the BABYMETAL canon, this song ranks among the “Damn Good” and “Fun”. The “fun” element is definitely understandable as the primary composer for this track is Ryu-metal, the playful genius behind “Onedari Daisakusen”, “Uki Uki Midnight” and “Meta Taro”. Like all BABYMETAL songs, “Elevator Girl” is mastercrafted and I highly encourage giving it a listen with some really nice headphones to catch all the intricate detailing. The primary complaint the song has received is from objections to the vocoding effect given to Su-Metal’s primary vocals. For fans wishing to hear the natural power of Su’s voice, the disappointment is understandable, but I believe the production choice is effective for this studio version.
The only complaint I have about this song is it’s short, radio-friendly, three-minute length. This may be the first pop song I’ve ever actually wanted an extended re-mix of.