The 10 Moments That Made BABYMETAL Global Superstars
By now, everyone knows BABYMETAL. Whether you’re on board with the Fox God or are still baffled by the idea, it’s impossible to ignore their dramatic rise to superstardom. Forming in 2010 (yes, that long ago), the Kawaii metallers have since released two studio albums, toured the world, played the biggest festivals and racked up millions of streams on YouTube and Spotify. But… how? We look back at the 10 moments the defined BABYMETAL’s career and made them one of the biggest bands in modern metal.
1. SU-METAL Gets Possessed By A Haunted Neck Brace
This wasn’t the band’s first video. Doki Doki Morning and Iine! had already given the world a taste of BABYMETAL’s brilliantly bonkers mix of J-pop and metal, but even better was to come. In the video for their first commercially available non-split single, SU-METAL is possessed by a haunted neck brace that transforms her into the windmilling Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!! of the title. Extra kudos for the J-horror references that see a creepy figure that looks like Sadako from The Ring joining in the fun.
2. Slaying The UK Festivals
BABYMETAL made their first ever UK appearance at Sonisphere in 2014. Sandwiched between Alestorm’s pirate metal and cockney geezers Chas & Dave, they might have initially been viewed as a novelty act by a sceptical crowd, but they proceeded to blow all expectations out of the water. It was a resounding success, with huge pits, a wall of death and chants for more that set the scene for more triumphs to come. They have since stormed stages at Reading & Leeds, as well as two memorable Download appearances – three if you count their surprise appearance with Dragonforce in 2015.
3. Winning Over Celebrity Fans
When BABYMETAL made that first huge UK appearance at Sonisphere, everyone wanted their pics taken with the band. There are snaps of the girls with Slayer, Deftones frontman Chino Moreno (who was photobombed by Joey Belladonna from Anthrax!) and even the grizzled and grumpy Jeff Walker from Carcass. Search now and you’ll find pictures of the girls with Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson, All Time Low, Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga – who also took them out for a leg of her ArtRave tour. When it comes to celebrity fans, BABYMETAL span those genre boundaries.
4. Headlining Wembley For The First Time
When BABYMETAL headlined Wembley in April 2016 they were aged just 17 (SU-METAL) and 16 (YUIMETAL and MOAMETAL). That’s quite a trajectory for a bunch of teenagers who had made their UK debut less than two years previously. The show was as spectacular as you might imagine, with a temple ruins theme and huge pyrotechnics. It reportedly set a venue record for the most merchandise sold in a day and also birthed a Live At Wembley album.
5. Supporting The Red Hot Chili Peppers
It might have seemed an unusual choice, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers were the first stadium rock giants to take BABYMETAL out on an extended tour. The two bands had been introduced at the Fuji Rock Festival and the girls recalled how surprised they were to find the Chilis watching their performance from the side of the stage. In 2016 BABYMETAL supported the veterans on The Getaway World Tour, including a UK leg that took in two shows at the O2 in London.
6. Playing Huge Shows With Metallica And Guns N' Roses
The Chilis might have been the first but they weren’t the last, as Metallica and Guns N’ Roses also invited BABYMETAL to open for them. “Metallica are like gods to us,” SU-METAL gushed as they prepared to open for the metal legends in Seoul in 2017. Metallica had, in fact, played the first metal show the girls had seen, back at Japan’s Summer Sonic festival in 2013. 2017 also saw them supporting the revitalised GnR on the Japanese leg of their Not In This Lifetime tour.
7. The Well-Chosen Guest Appearances
When it comes to guest appearances it’s about quantity but quality. In London on the Red Hot Chili Peppers tour, drummer Chad Smith joined BABYMETAL onstage (in full Kami Band make-up and stage gear) for a run through of Judas Priest’s Painkiller and Breaking The Law. They also got to perform with the Metal God himself Rob Halford at an awards show, but the one with the biggest impact was when they made a surprise guest appearance with Dragonforce at Download in 2015 – technically their first DL appearance. Dragonforce guitarists Herman Li and Sam Totman had played on the track Road To Resistance, but it was a rendition of Gimme Chocolate!! that drove the Download crowd wild.
8. Appearing At The K! Awards
In 2015 BABYMETAL won the Kerrang! Spirit Of Independence Award, which was disinterred after a five-year absence to mark the band’s unique and innovative vision. Whatever you think of BABYMETAL, after all, there’s no denying that their genre-splicing approach was initially entirely baffling to mainstream and genre fans alike. In 2016 they won Best Live Act, although that was perhaps overshadowed by Skindred frontman Benji Webbe’s somewhat odd hosting and the online kerfuffle that followed it.
9. Ending An Era In Spectacular Fashion
In typical BABYMETAL fashion, the band closed one chapter and celebrated SU-METAL’s 20th birthday (a coming of age milestone in Japan) with two huge concerts, dubbed Legend S: Baptism XX, in her hometown of Hiroshima. The entire crowd was dressed in matching robes, amulets and masks that lit up at certain points of the show. There was a huge Fox head that moved the length of the arena and at the end SU-METAL appeared to ascend to godhood. Now that’s how to celebrate a birthday.
10. The Chosen Seven Era
Enter the new and current era for BABYMETAL. There’s something about seven metal spirits, BABYMETAL’s darker side and, well… frankly we’re not always entirely sure what’s going on with the Fox God narrative. What we do know is that they launched their own record label, the tracks released last year – Distortion and Starlight – did lean further towards the dark side and they also put out a graphic novel, Apocrypha: The Legend Of BABYMETAL. The one thing we can be sure of going forward is that we can expect the unexpected and for the spectacular to be commonplace.
Words: Paul Travers