So for reasons that aren’t particularly clear, like the entire J-whatever Internet world seems to be required to do or say something about Ladybaby. Why be left out?
Because death pop is undeniably a thing, and occasionally it’s a worthwhile thing, and Ladybaby is undeniably death pop, they’re profiled on this website. I also did it because SEO BITCHES!
But I’d be lying if I said that I’m particularly supportive of Ladybaby. I’d also be lying if I said that I just don’t like Ladybaby.
I don’t. There’s really no reason to. No reason to like them, honestly, but also no reason to hate them. I’ll just toss out some thoughts that I think are kind of important.
- Ladybaby is real. When “Nippon Manjyu” and those intro videos were first making the rounds, I mostly didn’t believe that it was anything more than an absolute flash in the pan, but they just kind of kept going and pretty soon were doing shows in Europe and the USA.
- Ladybaby is not worth your strong feelings. Little Brother has commented that the music is lazy, and it is, but it’s also inoffensively so (how many legitimate hits have consisted of like three chords just kind of thrown together?). The clean/death verse/chorus thing is done to death at this point, but that’s not an issue. It’s just, overall, lowest common denominator music. It’s not groundbreaking or challenging or threatening.
Ladybaby is not going to last for very long.I’m amending this position: Because more idol groups are being given time to breathe, and because there’s international interest, Ladybaby won’t exhaust itself for a while yet.
- If you’re a Babymetal fan, you should be bothered by Ladybaby. Not because Ladybaby is any kind of a threat to Babymetal, but because Ladybaby is everything that idiotic tr00 metal fans have always accused Babymetal of being; by dint of being idol units, they’re both agency creations, and they’re both doing heavy music … and that’s it. It does feel weird to say that an idol unit put together by one of the biggest talent agencies in Japan paid its dues, but Babymetal worked their asses off for years to get to where they are, and Ladybaby … just kind of showed up and rode the wave that Babymetal (and Fruitpochette and Mugen Regina and Necronomidol and Party Rockets and Deathrabbits and etc.) built. This has happened innumerable times in the history of popular music, yes. But the little Ladybaby surge, crassly and unfairly (to everybody, honestly), just fuels the dismissal of idols who’ve done the work and built their success.
- I do applaud the effort. It’s not Rei or Rie or Ladybeard’s fault that they got thrown into this; the girls are looking at being idols, both won MissID and both have real-deal careers outside of this; and Ladybeard is interested in making money being Ladybeard. And good for Ladybeard for finding a career with it, at least so far. The group’s official motto is about smashing boundaries, and Ladybeard does that in spades.
- Most of what’s easily objectionable about Ladybaby isn’t really all that objectionable, but, this being a resource for Westerners, there is one thing that I didn’t know about at first and now kind of wish that I didn’t.
Thanks to New School Kaidan, I learned that 14-year-old Kuromiya Rei, who I knew was a “gravure model,” was in fact the kind of gravure model that would (probably deservedly) get somebody thrown in jail in the United States. I can make a lot of cross-cultural allowances about certain things (obviously), but gross sexual exploitation of pre-teens isn’t one of them. The girl’s been exploited as an object of lust for as long as she could tie her shoes. That’s disgusting.
Even just leaving that alone and giving Clearstone and Ladybaby management the benefit of the doubt, here’s video from the group’s NYC appearance:
Now, lots of homicidols do stage diving. Stage diving isn’t an issue. Having a 14-year-old in a tiny skirt stage dive is an issue: As just about any woman who’s ever crowd surfed can tell you, it’s a pretty gropey environment. That isn’t a secret. Throwing Rei (and Rie, who I think was 17 at the time) into that is poor judgment at best and ongoing sexual exploitation of a teen at worst, basically setting her up for assault even if nobody actually did anything.
Idols of all ages deal with sexualization. That’s not a secret. Ladybaby isn’t doing anything that’s all that out of the ordinary. But the whole setup with Rei stinks. It doesn’t matter if she loves every second of it.
So, in short, it’s probably most appropriate to just kind of let Ladybaby go. As is ethically* required of me by virtue of their being profiled on this website, they will appear as appropriate on the blog, and that’s that. They’ll float around for a little while, get some niche attention in the West, and that’s about it.