I’ve Really Enjoyed the Devil ANTHEM Journey

I remember, back when I was first stepping my whole foot into this idol business, how people would always hand-wave poor performances and uphold chika almost as a principle with the canard about idol really being about watching the performers develop over time, it’s why you support them after all, ain’t they cute, etc. I never quite bought it all the way, not from Western people at least, but I can cop to a certain amount of definitely enjoying seeing groups start off raggedy as all hell (relatively) and grow into something impressive.

At least just as interesting, though, is watching a quality, well-managed, talented project evolve over time, regardless of their respective level of success or popularity. It’s one thing to really stick to your conceptual guns straight from the jump and only move around within a limited musical space; it’s another to use the concept of the group as the creative boundaries and, within that, consider different presentations or musical styles over time. NECRONOMIDOL, for instance, is great at this — you know it’s Necroma by its darkness, not by their always doing a certain kind of musical thing, and in fact oftentimes by the gamut of musical things that they’re able to put into a single record while retaining that core chilly dread.

Another example, and more on the side of bright and shiny idol, is long-time personal guilty pleasure of mine, Devil ANTHEM, who are now four years into the idol game and have grown and changed quite a bit over time, so I invite you to first take a swing through this first time that I got to write them up, and then to enjoy perhaps this more recent collection of theirs, and then to settle into this new demo: Continue reading

Babymetal, English and ‘The One’: Does It Matter?

Everybody’s favorite followers of the Fox God (that’s Babymetal) were recently interviewed by Fuse, and that interview included a bit on why “The One,” their thematic anthem about unity that closes Metal Resistance and presumably many a giant concert in the future.

Trouble? Look on Fuse’s website.

If you’re on the site and somehow don’t know the song, or if you do in fact live under a rock, or if you have not looked at the video, or if you are just a bot and if you are please go away, the international release of “The One” is sung entirely in English. Su-metal says, “We learned that our music is capable of bringing people together, breaking borders and genres.”

That’s very true! From the humblest of beginnings, they’ve managed to outgrow every “natural” limit placed on their popularity, first in Japan and now outside of it. They’ve played on three continents and will likely add at least two more to that list in the not-too-distant future. They do it because people of all languages and cultures all over the world, people who love metal and people who hate metal and people who love pop and people who hate pop and hipsters and soccer moms and weirdos with websites love their music and love them.

And until very recently, like 99 percent of the non-Japanese fans fell in love despite the music being entirely in a language that they cannot read, write or understand.

So that’s why this business with “The One” is actually so weird to me. We literally don’t care. Here’s the “official” version:

Other than lyrical tidbits, Japanese. “KARATE,” the song that was put out to be the lead for Metal Resistance, is entirely in Japanese. They are Japanese people. They should sing in Japanese.

That said, I almost understand the broader point to “The One” being in English: Regardless of that move’s actual resultant importance, English probably is the closest thing to a common language among Babymetal fans at least, if not the international rock community in total. But the last thing Babymetal’s ever-expanding fan base needs is a common language; our common language has always been “Babymetal.”

Like, that’s the thing about music — it has universal qualities that language, spoken or written, even poetry, does not. “Megitsune” was my first song, and I got the message despite at the time not even being able to remember “konnichiwa” or “arigatou.”

Tell me if either of these songs says nothing to you:

Babymetal needs English like a fish needs a bicycle. Most of us get that, and I think even management gets that. That’s why “The One” in English feels like pointless pandering to what you might call the Global North, which is doubly pointless because that’s where the rough majority of their international fans already live, and they’ve been perfectly fine with Japanese until now.

If you want a real unity song, include English lyrics, but include the languages of others you’ve touched as well. Malay, Chinese, Tagalog, Spanish, German, Portugese. Arabic. Hindi. Make a real international statement.

And then do an official live video of “Tales of the Destinies” because it’s amazing.

Watch Babymetal’s Live Video for ‘The One’

Screw it. Not even Babymetal is interested in honoring exclusive release deals anymore.

I’ll be nice and honor the “exclusive” opportunity for Billboard. Click this and go watch the video on their page.

What a chorus.