This decade of Jrock cannot come to a close without covering its most unique creation. Which is to take the cuteness of a Japanese idol group and back them with a heavy metal band. An idea so crazy that it should not have worked—but it did! Thus, “Kawaii Metal” has been a curious and interesting new trend of the 2010s. We present some of the groups who stood out and made a mark in this new genre.
No doubt the foremost innovator, BABYMETAL has been incredibly successful and rose to prominence around the world. Their internationally viral song, Gimme Chocolate!! has over 110 million views which helped them break records in becoming the first Asian artists to have a number one album on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart. All this started from an idea by Key Kobayashi in 2010 to combine three singers from the idol group Sakura Gakuin with a metal band in the Heavy Music Club. Moreover, even casual music listeners have been drawn to Kawaii Metal as well as other Jrock thanks to this conception. Most notably, the song that kick-started the domination of BABYMETAL has to be their first chart-topper Megitsune (メギツネ).
This group had a few strange twists on the road of rock. At first in 2013, two idols began creating YouTube videos with Ladybeard, the Australian cross-dressing professional wrestler and singer. But when Ladybeard left a few years later, they changed their name and became The Idol Formerly Known as Ladybaby. Then in 2018, with the addition of two new vocalists, they once again became LADYBABY and made a few popular songs—the most noteworthy being Riot Anthem and Haten ni Raimei (破天ニ雷鳴). Unfortunately, they recently announced a suspension of activities in 2020 when their current tour wraps up. Instead of saying goodbye to them, let’s leave it with an endless end Hello.
Starting off as an idol group in 2013, PassCode added a heavy backing band and joined the Kawaii Metal bandwagon. Yet, they have been able to stand on their own with songs that bend electronica styles with the hard contrast of growly loud rock. For example, their hyper-kinetic Taking you out which was a collaboration for racing game Asphalt 9. But, they really level up in the catchy and hardcore MISS UNLIMITED.
When Gacharic Spin’s lead vocalist left in 2012, they found vocalist Fuki to form DOLL$BOXX and debuted with the modestly successful album DOLLS APARTMENT. They would weave together an insanely fun mashup of heavy metal, EDM, and pop. They took time off to work on other projects and came together again in 2017 for the EP high $pec, which reached 21 on the Oricon album chart. While Gacharic Spin remains active, Fuki is currently the lead vocalist for Unlucky Morpheus, which leaves future DOLL$BOXX music in question. Anyways, the best example that these ladies are here to rock while looking cute is in Take My Chance as they blow away these guys at a gig!
Trying to prove it’s better late than never, IRONBUNNY is the latest to place three idols in front of a rock band. While easily dismissed as a BABYMETAL clone, they do distinguish themselves. First, their sound is more power metal and classic rock inspired. And they have that mascot, “Ediee Ironbunny” who claims to be a cyborg from the future sent back to save rock music. Perhaps, to paraphrase The Dark Knight, he’s the rock cyborg we deserve, but not the one we need.
As a new decade begins, will this be a passing fad or continue to entertain fans for years to come? Many hope that it does grow as it brought new life to two separate genres that were beginning to stall. Whichever the case, no Jrock playlist would be complete without a little Kawaii Metal.