I was first introduced to “Kawaii Metal” a couple of years ago, when a coworker showed me “Gimme Chocolate” by Babymetal. My first thought was “What did I just watch?” And then I fell just a little bit down the foxhole. I don’t like all their music, but I like a significant amount of it.
Babymetal is somehow special. It’s not that they’re a metal band, because I don’t like metal all that much (though it’s growing on me a bit). It’s not that they’re cute, because on the cuteness scale I’d say they’re kind of middle of the road (they were cuter when they were younger, if I’m to be honest – but most people are). It’s not that their lyrics are meaningful – some are, but some are just silly and even, dare I say, vacuous.
But I have a search set on YouTube, “Babymetal reactions”, and every day or two I call it up to see what’s going on in that realm. I’ve found that probably the quickest way to grow a channel (though I wouldn’t do this myself) is to react to Babymetal, as hordes of people have the same search that I do and give people more information than they could possibly need or want. I’ve seen at least two grown men – one a tattooed rocker who’s probably had more women in a month than I have in my entire life – going back in time to when the girls were very young and pretty much cooing at how cute they were. Grown men, metal fans, who pretty much build their reputation on how tough and hardcore they are, felled completely by three girls who would as easily sing about gaining weight from chocolate and papaya fruit as about bullying and love. They make it badass to be cute.
I think that’s what’s special about Babymetal, and maybe kawaii metal in general. They worm their way into a metal subculture that’s built itself up on being rough and ready, and then spray sunshine, rainbows, and skittles all over it, and all the rockers can do is gush about how cute and badass they are.
Maybe the reason Babymetal, and kawaii metal, is so popular is that those girls give metal its heart back.