And the people did boo! I’m going to admit that I created this category as a cop-out. Honestly, what do you do with indie/underground/musically diverse/topically idiosyncratic groups like You’ll Melt More! or Devigel? You make a different website for them, basically, but there are groups that either rock the hell out or are seriously kind of scary within the ill-defined borders of alt-idol, so we’ll have a little home for them.
I was torn over whether I even wanted to include this here, given my overall opinion of the genre and the groups and bands that do it, but I’m going to wind up referencing them from time to time, and I’m aware that I’m not the be-all-end-all of taste and some people really like this, so.
Death pop! For the uninitiated, imagine a pop song with death vocals mixed in, possibly somewhat on the harder/industrial side, but still definitely a pop song.
I will point out that every group I’ve ever seen associated with death pop has had a man doing the harsh vocals while the girls/women do clean, whereas idolcore outfits like PassCode do the harsh on their own, but I promised to not completely run down death pop here, so I won’t.
The melodies are sometimes catchy, and these groups do tend to be rather arresting, visually. And I’ll even cop to not totally hating a few of the songs. It’s just …
Well, you be the judge.
Holy crap, I’ve written more about something that I don’t like than everything else that I do.
In the beginning, there was BiS. Now, there are probably several dozen groups doing a combo punk/hardcore/metal-like musical blend with idols at the center. There are also groups of very like sound that I’m not including under the idolcore banner.
Why? Because I look at idolcore as primarily attitude-based. These are groups that, even if they aren’t as mission-statemented as BiS was, are still out there to cause a ruckus and fuck shit up. The music is still the core* of it, though, so POP and others that like to make a mess and inspire wild fan responses don’t fit here if their music doesn’t.
People have been smashing together various metal genres and idol vocals for a while, but the real-deal rise of what’s genuinely emerging as a genre unto itself, as far as I can tell, genuinely goes back to Babymetal’s founding in 2010. This is one of the easier categories to define: Take metal (and pick your genre, seriously), add idols; profit.
Just like the entirety of the international metal scene at its root, idol metal is incredibly, stupidly diverse, and sometimes so well put together that it’s virtually indistinguishable from “just metal.” (See: “Akatsuki”) However, thankfully, and despite the inevitable objections of many tr00 fans (read: idiots), metal is pretty easy to identify even if you can’t pick out the specific flavor right away, so just focus on the fact that there are plural young women handling the vocals while simultaneously dancing.
Basically, idol metal is the bee’s knees.
What distinguishes this from idolcore, you ask? The fact that this is straight-up punk rock, I say. It may have a poppier vocal melody, but it’s unmistakenably punk rock, and the groups usually style and present themselves as such.
“BUT IDOL BY DEFINITION ISN’T PUNK!” says some 50-year-old anarchist crust enthusiast. I will point out to this fictitious-in-this-instance-but-probably-actually-out-there-somewhere person that punk and punk rock had their origins in uncomplicated rock & roll (see: The Ramones), and the scene and subculture were artifacts of that.
Plus, young women going into punk rock while not really running from the whole idol thing? That’s punk as fuck, dude.
It’s pretty uncomplicated. It’s also a pretty good time.
I remember the first time I heard an idol group do an actual, no-frills rock song, and I liked the hell out of it. Of course that was supposed to be a thing!
So what do we have here? Rock songs and idol. Sometimes it’s hard rock that borders on metal, and sometimes it’s soft rock that borders on standard-issue J-pop, but it’s rock & roll music with idol vocalists (note the key distinction from woman-led J-rock). That gives us lots of diversity and a deep roster, plus a good bit of history.
To avoid writing a treatise just to describe a not-quite-a-genre of music, I’ll be oblique, and we can hash it out in the comments if necessary: Kawaiicore is musically similar to idolcore, except that the performers tend to be on the younger side, and the songs tend to be a little more youth-friendly. There’s a bit more pop to kawaiicore, too, than in other idolcore.
Oh, and the performers are doing some iteration of kawaii. That’s kind of important.
I’ve been back and forth in terms of placing certain groups here or in other places (PassCode, for instance, or Guso Drop), so it’s certainly possible that I’m making this up as I go even moreso than in the rest of the site.
And that’s okay! It’s the music that matters.
Included here: Party Rockets GT