the quality of being cute, or items that are cute.
Heavy metal and Japanese pop. Two genres of music. One consists of down tuned guitars, lightning fast double bass pedals, harsh guttural vocals, nihilistic lyrics, and often demonic imagery. The other? Dance-y beats, young girls in colorful outfits, rehearsed choreography, and mass amounts of synth-y pop. Surely, there’s no scenario imaginable in which these two things would share a stage?
You’d be very wrong in that assumption.
Hardcore, metalcore, mathcore, deathcore; this list goes on and on. But we’re taking a look at its most recent and incredibly polarizing addition: kawaiicore. The idea first caught hold of mainstream attention last year with the introduction of BABYMETAL; a heavy metal three piece oddly consisting of three Japanese teenage girls.
BABYMETAL was initially met with incredibly mixed reviews. Many metal fans felt their sacred genre of angst and brutality was under attack and rejected the idea with disgust. Heavy metal isn’t meant to be cute! Or happy! Or be written about the struggles of chocolate consumption! However, others were not so cynical and found something strangely charming about the trio.
The outside world was just getting initiated, and naysayers be damned. BABYMETAL was already selling out arenas (as well as starting walls of death) all across Japan.
As the band’s videos went viral outside of Japan, it was inevitable that they would begin playing abroad. The band debuted in the UK at last year’s Sonisphere Festival, playing alongside legendary and long established metal bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, and plenty more. Before long they were touring the United States, opening for Lady Gaga, writing songs with members of DragonForce, and most recently spread their kawaii charm at this year’s Rock on the Range Festival in Columbus, Ohio.
Love them or hate them, BABYMETAL are a bubblegum force to be reckoned with. Of course, something so bizarre could only be successfully done once, right? “Kawaiicore” had to be a fluke. Lightning never strikes twice regardless of how adorable it might be.
Wrong again, faithful reader.
Meet LADYBABY. Erupting across the internet this week, LADYBABY appears to be the second contender in the kawaiicore craze. Another Japan-based three piece, featuring two young girls and… an adult Australian professional wrestler man cross-dressing as a school girl? Yeah, why not? That’s LADYBEARD, and he’s kind of been doing this for a couple of years now.
Joined by Rie Kaneko and Rei Kuromiya to form LADYBABY; the band released their debut single, “Japan Manju” this month and like predecessors BABYMETAL has been similarly disturbing/delighting viewers all over the world. The song is a seemingly upbeat endorsement of local Japanese shops and products, with an occasional dose of death metal influence.
While LADYBABY aren’t selling out arenas just yet, they’re gathering quite an audience and plan on releasing a full-length album on July 29th.
No matter where you can find kawaiicore, it seems to leave fiery debate in its hot pink footsteps. However, hasn’t innovation in the music industry always lead to controversy? Often those who resist the next big thing are susceptible to being left in the dust (pixie dust, in this case perhaps). With two viral sensations already under its belt, kawaiicore threatens to break free of its novelty roots and pierce the heavens of mainstream legitimacy.
Whose side are you on? What is your take on kawaiicore? An otherworldly abomination not meant for human consumption, or a surprisingly enjoyable mash-up of disparate musical genres? Is it okay for metal to be fun? Cute? Will you be picking up LADYBABY’s debut later this month? Let us know in the comments below! Try to keep it civil, and more importantly… kawaii.