Who’s the Next to Break Through Here?

I’ll be really liberal in what “here” means — I think it’s pretty much everything outside of traditional J-pop markets, so pretty much all of the Americas, Europe, Africa, Australia … even most of Asia.

Anyway, music dissimilarities aside, who’s the next Babymetal? Who has the right combination of sound, production, look and management to genuinely crack the non-otaku market and find themselves with a viral video hit or buzz-worthy festival appearance?

The only other qualifiers for this discussion are:

  • Must be idol. The no-bands rule that applies to the site still applies here.
  • Must be homicidol. Alt groups are fine. Idols that did one kinda-rock song are not.

Here are my personal nominees. Feel free to add your own in the comments among all the rest of the arguing, and we’ll work up a nice pool to vote from.

  • PassCode — Given the success of Skrillex and Prodigy, there’s room for a heavier version of EDM. Plus, PassCode is on a pretty steep uphill trajectory right now, so they could catch on with more of the post-Babymetal-curious crowd and have a single take off. I have to think that regular J-pop fans would give them a lot of support, too.
  • Ladybaby — They’ve already done standalone U.S. shows, and the “Nippon Manjyu” video was kind of a thing there for a while. I think they’re much more likely to burn out than make it, but stranger things have happened, and they’re practically tailor-made for certain people in the hipster set to pretend to like for a minute.
  • BiSH — Just name association gives them a leg up, as they immediately got hold of the ex-BiS fans and aren’t a complete unknown among the non-Japanese. Their sound and rather curious visual presentation would make them a surprise hit at a lot of festivals. It also helps that a few comments I’ve picked up from/through them make me think that WACK does have an eye on at least North America.
  • Fruitpochette — They already got a little bit of attention in the Great Babymetal Excitement of 2014, with Metal Injection and Metal Sucks throwing some blog action their way, but it’s kind of amazing that they haven’t broken through yet on the strength of The Crest of Evil, and they never may. Possibly seen as too weird just by name; what if they went back to Frupoche and let everybody think they were French-Canadian? And, just for what it’s worth, they do that tour-relentlessly thing that can give legs to a small breakthrough.
  • Mugen Regina / Haloperi Doll–I could see either of the Life Is Sweet Music sister groups catch on in Europe in particular, where symphonic/melodic/progressive metal with female vocals are more welcome. Haloperi Doll stands a puncher’s chance in the thrash-and-growl Americas.
  • Osaka Shunkashuto — There’s just something about this all-rock, all-fun group. They dance their asses off, Maina sings like Joan Jett gone idol and they have a ridiculous sense of cinematic drama to help drive the point home; if only Americans weren’t averse to rock music anymore …

As a disclaimer, I had POP as a possibility at first, because “pretty pretty good” struck me as the kind of song that could catch on in clubs and eventually find its way onto the airwaves, even without the raw virality that something like “Gangnam Style” had, but now they’re showing signs of going in a seriously denpacore direction, and while that’s cool, it’s not likely to catch on in the West.

So there are seven nominees! To make the process even more scientific, please begin to argue in the comments or on Facebook, invite your friends to share their ill-informed opinions, and tell me all about why I’m missing the boat on Band Ja Naimon! or UnderBeasty or something. I’ll put together a real-deal voting poll after we get some good results.


20 thoughts on “Who’s the Next to Break Through Here?

  1. Fantastic site you have here. Found you while digging further into one of my favorites, one that you don’t seem to keen on(;_;). Never the less, they seem to be further along than most of the ones you listed. As of this posting date, they will be on a big stage at Saitama. That’s right, the “masked girls” have captured my ear & imagination over the past couple of years. Just my opinion, as I find this whole genre most entertaining, more so than anything the US has created this century. Cheers from FL,USA

    • My friend, I would love to do more with Kamen Joshi. They just don’t put out enough stuff! And aren’t under much pressure to, what with their our theater and whatnot. Still, yes, I’d love to do more with them.

      • “Don’t put out enough stuff”? I count 6 new songs in the past 4 months, and 11 songs total(including 1 Steam Girls and 1 Armour Girls song) in the past 8 months. Granted, most have no video, but it’s the music first. Since they are indie, they don’t release “albums”, but the cd’s are available at their theater.Frustrating, I know, however i have come upon a a shopping service @bridgejapan, that will purchase items(for a small fee) on your behalf and ship outside Japan. Perhaps these clips will peak your interest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2hnoWGo5Dc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5zOQtImfBo

  2. Hmmm.. there are a few interesting acts out there (a large number of them you have already listed) but i’d like to throw in Deep Girl (I Kill and it’s MV are awesome) and Screaming Sixties (Sado-masochistic idols may interest the wrong sort of fans tho’), neither of whom have released a lot yet so i guess we’ll have to wait and see if they can follow through with a decent albums worth of material.

    I’d love to see FruitPochette, Bish, Passcode or HKFC do it too but i’d guess its more likely to be something like Ladybaby as the music press can say ‘ you thought Babymetal were weird well get ready for this…’
    None of the other acts really have that ‘not been seen before’ element to them that would catch on

    Would also be cool if Billie Idle could make some headway (POP too!) but i don’t think any of them are different enough to get noticed
    But you never know, now that Babymetal have kicked up some interest in Japanese music maybe some of the other bands can benefit.

    • You know what I think will be the big tell? If somebody suddenly winds up with a whole mess of resources and money, major label, international distribution, things like that. I don’t know exactly how Cool Japan is making things go for Tokyo 2020, but I see very deliberate efforts to work with Amuse (Babymetal and Perfume and ONE OK ROCK) and the various 48s in particular as a way to drum up general interest in Japan, and we know that they’ve been doing things with Amuse because of that one Babymetal video.

      The closest at the moment is probably BiSH, just because they have some niche international following already and just got signed by Avex. Would something like Cool Japan work with WACK? I don’t know. Maybe. If Watanabe Junnosuke, he of the professional mayhem-making, wants to do things like ban lifting at shows so as to make a clearer path to bigger stardom for BiSH, I’m willing to believe that there are external factors at play.

      • Unfortunately, I don’t believe any Japanese idol groups will have much, if any success, in the west, without a live band backing them, as long as we’re discussing the rock/metal genre.Would Babymetal have slayed at Sonisphere without the Kami’s? Doubtful. Remember the rock/metal fans in the west are accustomed to seeing a band playing live. Perfume has had some success in the states, but that’s pop, and the pop audience is used to performances with pre-recorded backing tracks.

  3. Interesting. A predictions post. Let’s see how things have played out, shall we?

    PASSCODE — Good group. Seems like they should be further along by now after 3 years. Would’ve thought they would be at least at the Zepp level, playing one mans.

    LADYBABY — Done. The one-off everybody predicted Babymetal was going to be. I suspect we’ve seen the last of that specimen.

    BISH — Dysfunctional as always. Most folks gravitated towards this genre because it’s happy, uplifting music with a hard backdrop. I don’t believe the West has any more room for angsty mall punk.

    FRUITPOCHETTE — Down to one singer. Hardly original enough to get more then a raised eyebrow. I’ll call them “floundering”.

    MUGEN REGINA/HALOPERI DOLL — Recent major setbacks for the former, over and out for the latter, even after a 2.0 reboot.

    OSAKA SHUNKASHUTO — A J-Rock group that in reality, isn’t original enough to get very far from where they currently are.

    Some of the others mentioned, DEEP GIRL, to angry, the West has plenty of doom and gloom, adding some little girls up front is kinda played in 2016. SCREAMING SIXTIES, the West already has Butcher Babies and they show their tits, so yeah, good luck competing with that.

    It seems like ol’ Mr.Jaxson was the only one with a reality based notion. The last 11 months has brought us 17 new songs from Kamen Joshi, a careers worth for some of these acts, tons of touring from Shanghai to Hong Kong, Indonesia to Taiwan, Vietnam and all points in between. A nationally televised TV show of 17 episodes, a gigantic arena show for 15,000 fans, and a top 5 Oricon slot for the DVD of said show. If any artist is moving in the proper direction, it’s them.

    The reality is that there isn’t going to be “another Babymetal”, This ain’t no progressive, liberal elementary school, where everyone gets a turn and a trophy , just for showing up. Recognizing how trends in music come and go, based on the last 60 years, this a rare occurrence for an Eastern artist to gain such worldwide acceptance. Over the next 4 to 5 years (maybe even less) most of these artists will be long gone or at least moved on to another new trend. Only a few that have proven staying power will remain to reap the rewards of the global attention brought by the 2020 Olympics. i know of one group that is in this for the long haul and just so happens to have a theater in the heart of Tokyo, where many tourists and media types will be eager, with cash in hand, to experience some of the unique entertainment that only Japan can offer. Time will tell.

    • Unfortunately Kamen Joshi has been reduced to side entertainment for people to watch whilst eating curry 😛 Or just some other group on, when people have turned up to watch their oshi group ;p

      • Thank you JUL(@Jul3rd). I’m so glad that we can agree that if Passcode can’t get to bigger venues and arenas like Babymatal and The Kamen Joshi, then they are essentially at their peak, and that Beardladyboy was the one and done of 2015, and that Bish is a dysfunctional lot, always in a state of perpetual reformation, and best suited for the angsty mall rats, which there is already an abundance of acts in the West to fill that niche, and that Fruitpochette lost 50% of their idol and are floundering, and Mugen Regina/Haloperi Doll is, for all intents and purposes, history, and Osaka Shunkashuto is an average J-Rock act with very little originality to offer, and Deep Girl with their massive 4 song discography, can hardly put on a show, more like an appearance, and are in stagnation, And Screaming Sixties was already a band and threw up a couple of girls in Lone Ranger masks to try and catch a few scraps leftover from the big dogs.Happy that we can agree on my conclusions. By the way, I understand completely how you must be suffering after the devastating departure of your internet girlfriend Ms.Jun, our heartfelt sympathies go out to you, but c’mon man, it’s been over a year now, time to pick up the pieces of your broken heart and move on kiddo. Let her go man, there are plenty of other teen girls to lust after on the Ol’ Interwebz, but if you feel like chatting about it and need a sympathetic ear, we are here for you love. Best Wishes.

        • Woah woah woah. Alright now. Everyone here knows that everyone else has favorites, etc. but let’s leave the personal insults out of it. We don’t need to try to prove that one band is better than another (other than as a light-heated source of entertainment via polls and stuff), so let’s all just enjoy the groups we enjoy without trying to bring down other groups, or worse yet each other.

          • This has nothing to do with the topic at hand but please don’t ever change your avatar picture! I don’t want to stop believing that you really ARE Neil deGrasse Tyson!

  4. Oh my, Miss Tara. The Crusher of Hopes, The Destroyer of Dreams. A one woman wrecking ball swinging wildly in all directions. We already got whacked a few days ago. Who’s next to get their head cut? Is the almighty Babymetal in your crosshairs? Perhaps you would like to bring them down to an earthly level. Maybe enlighten these fine folks to the fact that Suzuka is provided a ghost track in about 50% of her live performances. That might start some shit slinging around here. SWING AWAY

    • Well since you just let the cat outta the bag, anything further would be pointless, I suspect that little nugget of info will be ignored and sent down the memory hole. Can’t allow the Prols to catch wind of any info that could cause trouble for the Ministry of Truth. Besides, I doubt anyone around here would know what a ghost track is.


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