I’m really liking this performing-with-bands thing that more and more groups are doing lately. It helps to drive home the idea that an idol group can and should be taken seriously as an artistic project, not just a promotional or developmental entity.
When I first started to really pay attention to who was doing what in the alt-idol scene, I kept overlooking Guso Drop. The sad thing is that I can’t remember why — this track right here, “Hirari Hirahira”, is absolutely legit.
Dare you to not get that guitar stuck in your head.
Guso Drop is totally straightforward in their presentation: They’re idols doing hardcore. The choruses fit within the normal bounds of idol pop, but would you listen to that song and try to make a cogent argument that it isn’t hardcore? You would not, because you are reading this website and clearly have good taste. You probably think that Rei’s very good growl is very good, and that Saki is a perfectly good screamer, and you are correct.
This is unfortunately a group with a pretty limited discography so far (they’re just over a year old, ffs), so “best track” options are pretty limited to the above. I’m looking forward to a full album.
Nonetheless, Guso Drop has one of those don’t-miss-this presences on stage and in the scene, and, presuming that they keep it together, they look to make some pretty big noise down the road.
What they sound like
Most of Guso Drop’s sound is hardcore or hardcore-based, but they also roll out some more traditional punk rock and, of course, throw in their share of synths. So, basically, they sound like hardcore and/or punk with a little bit of a pop feel, with vocals (including harsh!) by idols.
You’ll like them if
For such a straightforward group, I honestly can’t think of very many analogs for what Guso Drop is doing. If you liked BiS / like BiSH or have a pretty general positive feeling for crunchier riffs and the strategic employ of harsh vocals, you’ll probably dig on Guso Drop.
Like the most fun possible combination of EDM and pop punk, plus screams. Or is dance club deathcore more your thing?
It took me a few tries to go from appreciating PassCode to genuinely liking PassCode. I’m glad I was patient.
One of the most genuinely cool things about the broader development of idolcore is its raw diversity — not everybody succeeds, necessarily, but chances are taken and sounds are developed and sometimes standing out is as simple as doing a simple formula better than anybody else.
Of course, the notion that PassCode’s sound is easy is kind of weird, but they hit a lot of unique notes on the way to making a song theirs, so much so that there really isn’t mistaking one of their songs.
They’re pretty good at this, is what I’m saying.
Me too, guy. Me too.
Musically, it’s a pretty clean 1:1 blend of pop punk and digital hardcore. On HTML, that doesn’t sound particularly attractive, but think of the unifying elements being the tempo and beats, with heavy synths and bouncy vocals. Also breakdowns. And chiptune. And screams and growls.
Yep. PassCode is one of the idol groups that has a screaming member (Yuna). She’s tiny and she’s terrifying.
I’ll admit that PassCode probably isn’t for everybody, but they also have a little bit of something for everybody and a nice, big catalog at this point, so take the time to explore their music a little bit and find the sweet spot that works for you.
What they sound like
The music you wish would play when your SO drags you out to the club for a night of dancing; synth-driven digital popcore with breakdowns.
You’ll like them if
“Iine” is your favorite Babymetal song, or you’ve ever wished that Perfume would do a collab with Skrillex.
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.