Your Input, In a Nutshell

I really do want to thank you guys for throwing your votes and thoughts into that rather open-ended poll dealy from the other day.

The way that the poll itself shook out was really interesting. I expected a good percentage of votes for BiSH, for instance, because it’s starting to look inevitable that, with their momentum, Watanabe will want to test the waters (as pointed out in the comments); what I didn’t expect was the large amount of support for Guso Drop, who claimed the plurality of specific votes. And, for what it’s worth, the #1 vote was for Other, which suggests that sentiments around the ability of particular groups to break through and become A Thing outside of Japan are even more varied that I thought.

For what it’s worth, the loose plurality of support in Other was for Kamen Joshi, with THE SPUNKY, BiS (I had a feeling!), Deathrabbits and — the biggest surprise — Arrow Heart picking up multiples of support.

I’m withholding comment on those results for the time being, but I want to address the comments that a number of you contributed.

The #1 thing, and I can’t stress this enough, was that we were actually able to have something of an open debate on the subject of whether there even is an element of viability. I think that’s really important: Some of us (WHAT’S GOT TWO THUMBS …) take it for granted in a way that other people will like this stuff that we do, in a mass way; after all, if we like it enough for it to be normalized into our lives not as a fad or WTF throwaway element, but an active interest, then it must have some interest value to others, too.

And I’m not going to say that isn’t true. The Babymetal example came up a lot, as it should have, both as a plus and a minus, but the #1 reason that Babymetal was able to happen to worldwide audiences was because of “Gimme Chocolate!!”. I know plenty of people, both fans and non of J-music, who were aware of Babymetal prior to that, but it was the sheer virality of that video that shot them into public consciousness. It’s impossible to know now (and not worth spending brain cells on, because either way it worked) if Amuse was already starting to work their PR machine on Team Rock and others up to that point, if they were already casting covetous eyes on the large markets in Europe and North America, but that was the launch pad, and it worked, regardless of the behind-the-scenes strategy employed.

The video worked because it was quirky and fun and the song was catchy as hell, so that people who never cared about metal could appreciate it at the same time as the less-braindead elements of the metal scene could be glad to have something to dance to. But the other big element in Babymetal’s favor was the simple high quality of the overall production, from the composition to the stage performance. It sounded good, it looked good, and it fucking felt good, and now three Japanese teenage girls in gothic lolita stage costumes are one of the biggest things in international rock.

So then the question is, can somebody else duplicate that? Not the results, but the process, and reasonably hope for it to succeed? I mean, in a very general sense, yes, but this is just a smattering of the negatives working against them:

  • None of them have Amuse’s resources
  • “Babymetal clones” perception (people are dumb)
  • Niche/scene audiences can be insular to a fault
  • The fuck is this pop singer bullshit?

That’s very simplistic, and one could probably go on for a long time on reasons why not (some of the best comments on the original article were pointed at the negatives). The most common need cited was a live band, and I agree strongly while also feeling like it isn’t that insurmountable an obstacle.

For now, it’s mostly food for thought. Those of you who commented, thank you again — you got me thinking about things I hadn’t considered, or you validated things I was already thinking about. Those of you who voted, thank you again as well — this range of opinions is really informative.

I’m going to put out another ask for input over the weekend, so please do be on the lookout. It’s a little bit more of an ask, so I’ll tease it out: Of the group/s you think can have broader international appeal, which popular artists would you relate them to? In other words, it’s word association — if I say “Guso Drop,” fans of which well-known Western artists do you think would respond well to them? And though this part of the question will be voluntary, it’s important: Why? Note: “Because they’re awesome,” while potentially true, isn’t a good answer.

I’ll publish that Saturday morning. In the meantime, again, thank you, and enjoy the rest of this genuinely batshit week.

9 thoughts on “Your Input, In a Nutshell

  1. BiS actually had an article in Vice about them, so that’s some international coverage I guess, lol.
    Actually, I think a music video by BiS would be the group most likely to go viral, but I don’t know about longevity in the western fandom. That said, Babymetal originally got big bc one of their music videos went viral, and they managed to surprise everyone by sticking around and getting people hooked.

    • I HATED that VICE article tbh (and don’t like VICE in general). It was very good at projecting the biases of the author when the subject of the piece was literally right there. If you have questions or don’t understand something, why don’t you just ask?


  2. I was off the grid for most of this, and I forget who I voted for, but it’s a tough call. I’ll share some thoughts this evening while I’m getting caught up on that sweet, sweet content.
    In some ways I wanna say BILLIE IDLE would be a good bet, not only because of NIGO’s attachment, but they’d have to really change their marketing strategy from the zero English outreach that they do now.

    • Every time I see Billie Idle live, I think they’d have a really tough time cracking a lot of the “obvious” avenues, like Warped Tour or whatever, but I could see them latch on as a supporting act for the likes of Faith No More and be a hit within that milieu. They’re fun, they sound plenty Western (80s, but still), they have loads of personality.

      • Having a familiar western sound is definitely in their favor. I’d actually imagined someone like their pal Pharrell giving them a bump on social media, and them finding a following with hype beasts and expensive clothes nerds, a-la Chester French.
        There are loads of hurdles, too many to list. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I don’t see anyone in the list above particularly having any crossover success. “Idols” are thought of so differently in the west, there’s not even a market for traditional idol units in the west, much less ones with metal influences.
        I’m really rooting for Suiyobi no Campanella, and I could daydream about BRGH or Especia getting a small foothold over here, but we’ll have to wait and see what becomes of both of those groups.
        Maybe Phase 2 warrants a forum thread, btw. It’ll be a steep uphill hearts and minds campaign for sure 😛

  3. Live band for Rock/Metal/Punk- Aesthetic idols, sure. Makes sense. I think maybe just as important, maybe some stability is needed. Allow me to elaborate.

    Turnover. The first year is understandable or even expected in any “western-style” band. Western sensibility peeps seeing it in Idol probably isn’t a huge deal. See what works, who works well with whom, etc.

    Unfortunately, or if you prefer “The fleeting beauty of Idol”…
    A fair amount of Idol groups have one or more members of the “mandatory school age”. Often, the demands of school and “work” are too much. Even the university aged ones can find incompatibility between the two. Compounding that, the habit of some management (or the predisposition of the talent) of graduating out’ “old for new” may be productive for attendance to shows, but is a poor model for developing talent that can often improve your recordings and live shows as well as media image. Sometimes I think the stage clothes changes are there more so you don’t notice the lineup changes, in older photos, and less for the staleness of wearing the same thing two or three times a week.

    Now, If we can assume every Idol on a stage wanted worldwide attention (Many? Most?) as much as we can assume the Management does, where do we start?
    If a wave of support came from “wherever”, would the “cast of characters” be recognizable after a few months? Would the Unit still be around?

    The latest BellHeart announcements were actually shocking. I felt they could be large in any upcoming “next wave” of Idol.

    • I’ll take that another step — who you break through with as members, management had better be committed to for a little while. I think idols could get away with a little bit of turnover (Gen 2 Babymetal fans, for instance, got well-acquainted with idol stuff pretty quickly because of Sakura Gakuin), OR they’d need BiS-level stuff and bill it as a quirk of the group. People in and out all the time, or the dreaded full makeover, those would probably kill the attraction for most people.

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