I really do want to thank you guys for throwing your votes and thoughts into that rather open-ended poll dealy from the other day.
The way that the poll itself shook out was really interesting. I expected a good percentage of votes for BiSH, for instance, because it’s starting to look inevitable that, with their momentum, Watanabe will want to test the waters (as pointed out in the comments); what I didn’t expect was the large amount of support for Guso Drop, who claimed the plurality of specific votes. And, for what it’s worth, the #1 vote was for Other, which suggests that sentiments around the ability of particular groups to break through and become A Thing outside of Japan are even more varied that I thought.
For what it’s worth, the loose plurality of support in Other was for Kamen Joshi, with THE SPUNKY, BiS (I had a feeling!), Deathrabbits and — the biggest surprise — Arrow Heart picking up multiples of support.
I’m withholding comment on those results for the time being, but I want to address the comments that a number of you contributed.
The #1 thing, and I can’t stress this enough, was that we were actually able to have something of an open debate on the subject of whether there even is an element of viability. I think that’s really important: Some of us (WHAT’S GOT TWO THUMBS …) take it for granted in a way that other people will like this stuff that we do, in a mass way; after all, if we like it enough for it to be normalized into our lives not as a fad or WTF throwaway element, but an active interest, then it must have some interest value to others, too.
And I’m not going to say that isn’t true. The Babymetal example came up a lot, as it should have, both as a plus and a minus, but the #1 reason that Babymetal was able to happen to worldwide audiences was because of “Gimme Chocolate!!”. I know plenty of people, both fans and non of J-music, who were aware of Babymetal prior to that, but it was the sheer virality of that video that shot them into public consciousness. It’s impossible to know now (and not worth spending brain cells on, because either way it worked) if Amuse was already starting to work their PR machine on Team Rock and others up to that point, if they were already casting covetous eyes on the large markets in Europe and North America, but that was the launch pad, and it worked, regardless of the behind-the-scenes strategy employed.
The video worked because it was quirky and fun and the song was catchy as hell, so that people who never cared about metal could appreciate it at the same time as the less-braindead elements of the metal scene could be glad to have something to dance to. But the other big element in Babymetal’s favor was the simple high quality of the overall production, from the composition to the stage performance. It sounded good, it looked good, and it fucking felt good, and now three Japanese teenage girls in gothic lolita stage costumes are one of the biggest things in international rock.
So then the question is, can somebody else duplicate that? Not the results, but the process, and reasonably hope for it to succeed? I mean, in a very general sense, yes, but this is just a smattering of the negatives working against them:
- None of them have Amuse’s resources
- “Babymetal clones” perception (people are dumb)
- Niche/scene audiences can be insular to a fault
- The fuck is this pop singer bullshit?
That’s very simplistic, and one could probably go on for a long time on reasons why not (some of the best comments on the original article were pointed at the negatives). The most common need cited was a live band, and I agree strongly while also feeling like it isn’t that insurmountable an obstacle.
For now, it’s mostly food for thought. Those of you who commented, thank you again — you got me thinking about things I hadn’t considered, or you validated things I was already thinking about. Those of you who voted, thank you again as well — this range of opinions is really informative.
I’m going to put out another ask for input over the weekend, so please do be on the lookout. It’s a little bit more of an ask, so I’ll tease it out: Of the group/s you think can have broader international appeal, which popular artists would you relate them to? In other words, it’s word association — if I say “Guso Drop,” fans of which well-known Western artists do you think would respond well to them? And though this part of the question will be voluntary, it’s important: Why? Note: “Because they’re awesome,” while potentially true, isn’t a good answer.
I’ll publish that Saturday morning. In the meantime, again, thank you, and enjoy the rest of this genuinely batshit week.