So, today, I have been working on adding further reviews to Texihabara. There’s a bit of a technical issue I have to iron out where not all of the reviews are accessible, but I suppose that’s something that I can iron out with a bit of support and elbow grease.
Anyway, the two songs I did so far were Koi no Dance Site, and Happy Summer Wedding. Now I’m not going to lie and tell you that I think they were great and wonderful songs, because I don’t. But I do think they were remarkable. They were remarkable because Morning Musume seems to have decided to experiment with different cultures and musical styles. “Koi no Dance site”, for example, had a very pronounced middle eastern theme, and “Happy Summer Wedding” seemed to be a pastiche of different wedding traditions, but primarily Indian. Most of the time they were wearing indian themed belly dancer costumes. They were absolutely gorgeous costumes, of course.
Now, if you are a fan of Babymetal, you know what kind of genre hopping they’re known for. They’re not really experimental in the same way Morning Musume was, but it’s the same spirit of experimentation. Morning Musume didn’t genre hop as much as they culture hopped, while keeping a JPop core. Babymetal kept a metal core, but underneath they hopped across as many genres as they could get their cute little hands on. It’s the same spirit.
I have a feeling Babymetal fans are going to bash me for this post. I don’t really care.
So I really do like Babymetal’s music, but lately I haven’t been loving it. It feels like there’s something just a bit off about it. I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the very thing that makes it wonderful is also its achilles heel. There’s only so far you can take their schtick. Their schtick was young, cute girl voices against hard metal, and their genre hopping is what made that continue to be interesting. But I think they’ve pretty much run their course. The older and stronger Su’s voice becomes, the less effective the schtick actually is – it’s not cute anymore. Su is a beautiful woman with a strong voice – but she’s no longer kawaii.
It’s like Morning Musume – in their golden years, they continued experimenting with different styles, such as Big Band (Mr. Moonlight) and other types of songs. I think this was the secret to their success at the time. When they became more comfortable and less edgy with their style, and the founding members graduated out, they lost their mojo. They’re still around and still fairly popular, but they’re not what they once were. They might never be again until they can replicate what made them great. I don’t think they will. The current members are standing on the shoulders of the founding members.
And that’s fine. But it’s what’s happening.
Babymetal has announced their “sealing” after ten years. I think it’s the right time to hang it up.
Will there be something to take their place? Maybe. There always is. The Japanese love to experiment and mishmash things up, and eventually they’ll come up with another winning formula, which I kind of hesitate to speculate on. Hentaimetal? Wouldn’t put it past them, tbh. I dunno. We’ll find the next great thing to come out from there, start up a new fan base from scratch, talk about how great Japan is, and then the cycle will repeat.
Japanese pop groups always seem to get their start by being shocking. Babymetal did this, Morning Musume did this in their own way, Ladybaby did it in their own inimitable way too. Band-Maid has a quite obvious schtick, and I’m not too familiar with other groups to give more examples, but that seems to be how it always works. They experiment, they don’t so much find something that works but force something to work that shouldn’t, milk it dry, and then move on to the next thing. That’s Japanese pop culture in a nutshell. I’m interested to see what else comes out of Japanese pop culture over the next few years, but for right now, I feel like they’ve kinda run out of ideas, and I’m ready to move on from Babymetal.