Japanese trio is equal parts goth and giggles
Babymetal are unlikely ascendants to the black-metal throne, to say the least. They're a girl group, Japanese and each barely 5 feet tall. (The pigtails add an extra inch.) Oh, and they smile. And dance. But they're racking up millions of YouTube views, selling out shows and opening for Lady Gaga. They name-drop the band Anthrax, as in, "We were talking with Anthrax backstage in London, after we performed for 10,000 people, and..."
Their novel brand of music - which they call "kawaii" (meaning cute) metal - combines the fire and fury of Slayer with the vocals, choreographed dance moves and apple-cheeked innocence of tween J-pop. "We have a song called 'Headbanger,' " says lead singer Su-Metal, through a translator over Skype, before checking herself: "Well, it's a baby headbang. Instead of doing it forwards, we do it from side to side, to make it cute."
If you ask Babymetal how it came together, the girls giggle about being placed on Earth by "the Fox God," a being they say they came upon by mistaking metal's devil-horn hand sign for the ears of a fox. (Metal has always loved its mysticism, after all.) In reality, Suzuka "Su-Metal" Nakamoto, 16, started off as a cog in one of Japan's manufactured "idol" pop groups. Neither she nor vocalist/dancers Yui "Yuimetal" Mizono and Moa "Moametal" Kikuchi (both 15) had even heard metal before being recruited by Key "Kobametal" Kobayashi, the producer behind the group.