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 contendersAtarashii 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:) Continue reading →
Attention students!! Leaders just dropped the early front-runner for album of the year.
Atarashii Gakkou No Leaders has never been the most accessible of units from a Western perspective. Their MVs often sit behind region blocks and paywalls, while their music makes artsy references to social concerns that may require cultural translation. In short, exploring the group’s music requires a bit more proactive labor than just clicking “play” on YouTube and rockin’ your socks off. However, with the release of their stunning second album, Wakage Ga Itaru, now is the time to put in that extra effort.
So that’s Atarashii Gakkou no Leaders — Leaders of the New School — “dancing” for URBANGARDE’s latest, which just so happens to be coinciding with their announced transition to the “Shoujo Era” (the kind of thing that comes up when you’re in a group chat with officially all-over-the-place Japanese music hobbyists!) (this also makes so much sense in context!). It’s not URBANGARDE’s first mix-up with idols that we’ve even covered here in the venerable HTML margins of Homicidols Dot Com, nor is it the first pass at Leaders, though it’s obnoxiously removed from previous connections with them because they used to be region-blocked to death.
Anyway, that’s a wild-ass song! Depending on your tastes, possibly the best (or at least most interesting) idol-related collaboration this year. Certainly memorable! I feel like Suzuka (leader of Leaders!) needs to have her face cast in pliable bronze or something, the better that those expressions are preserved for posterity.