Babymetal (Japanese: ベビーメタル, Hepburn: Bebīmetaru) (stylized in all caps) is a Japanese kawaii metal band consisting of Suzuka Nakamoto as "Su-metal" and Moa Kikuchi as "Moametal". The band is produced by Kobametal from the Amuse talent agency. Their vocals are backed by heavy metal instrumentation, performed by a group of session musicians known as the "Kami Band" at performances.
The band was formed in 2010, with the original lineup of Su-metal (vocal and dance), Moametal (scream and dance), and Yui Mizuno as "Yuimetal" (scream and dance), with the concept of creating a fusion of the heavy metal and Japanese idol genres. Originally a sub-unit of the Japanese idol group Sakura Gakuin, Babymetal became an independent act in 2013, following Nakamoto's departure from Sakura Gakuin.
Babymetal released their eponymous debut album in February 2014. Their second album Metal Resistance was released worldwide in April 2016. Babymetal has also embarked on several tours, with a majority of their tour dates taking place outside of Asia. The group released their third album Metal Galaxy in October 2019.
On October 19, 2018, Babymetal announced that Yui Mizuno had decided to leave the band due to poor health, following her absence from live performances since December 2017. Since her departure, the band has performed with backup dancers at live performances. In 2019, the band introduced three backup dancers called "Avengers" who performed in rotation at each live show to form a trio with Moametal and Su-metal.
In 2009, Kobametal, the band's producer and long-time heavy metal enthusiast, started planning the launch of an idol/heavy metal fusion group after he was impressed by Suzuka Nakamoto's performance with her previous group Karen Girl's, thinking she would be suitable as the lead vocalist for the new group. The band was formed in 2010 in Tokyo, Japan, as the heavy music club (重音部, Jūonbu), or sub-unit, of the female idol group Sakura Gakuin, which was also newly formed that year. The band's name is a combination of "baby" (ベビー, bebī) and "heavy metal" (ヘビーメタル, hebī metaru), and the Japanese pronunciation rhymes with "heavy metal". According to Kobametal, Yui Mizuno and Moa Kikuchi were added to complement Nakamoto's "unique stage presence" with their smaller statures, dancing around her "like angels". None of the three members were familiar with metal music before the inception of the band.
Babymetal's first live appearance was on November 28, 2010, at Sakura Gakuin's first solo concert, Sakura Gakuin Festival ☆ 2010. In July 2011, Babymetal premiered the song, "Ijime, Dame, Zettai" ("No More Bullying"), at a Sakura Gakuin concert, but it would only be performed during live concerts for the time being. The band's first single, "Doki Doki Morning", originally appeared on Sakura Gakuin's debut album Sakura Gakuin 2010 Nendo: Message, released on April 27, 2011. A music video for the song was uploaded to Toy's Factory channel on YouTube on October 12, 2011, and was released as a DVD single in late 2011, under the independent Toy's Factory sublabel Juonbu Records. The music video totaled over 1 million views by the end of 2012.
Babymetal's first CD single was a collaboration with the band Kiba of Akiba, titled "Babymetal / Kiba of Akiba". Released in March 2012 by Juonbu Records, the single ranked at number three on the Oricon weekly indie chart, and number one in the Tower Records Shibuya weekly indie ranking. In the summer of 2012, the band released a music video for their next single, "Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!!", directed by Hidenobu Tanabe. In August 2012, Babymetal debuted at Japan's Summer Sonic Festival, becoming the youngest act ever to perform at the festival, at the average age of 12. The same year, Babymetal performed outside of Japan for the first time at the 2012 Anime Festival Asia in Singapore.
2013–2015: Major label debut and Babymetal
On January 9, 2013, the band debuted on a major record label with "Ijime, Dame, Zettai". Released under the main Toy's Factory label and Juonbu Records, it sold 19,000 copies in its first week and debuted at number six in the Oricon Weekly Singles Chart. In the spring of 2013, Nakamoto graduated from junior high school and therefore had to "graduate" from Sakura Gakuin (a group of elementary and junior high school girls). However, their management decided that Babymetal would not dissolve and would continue its activities as a band. The group released its next single, "Megitsune", on June 19, 2013, under Toy's Factory and the band's new sublabel BMD Fox Records.
On August 10 and 11, 2013, Babymetal again took part in the Summer Sonic Festival, performing in Tokyo and Osaka. Later, in October, Babymetal also became the youngest artists ever to perform at the heavy metal music festival Loud Park. In November, Babymetal released a promo video for the Japanese premiere of Metallica's movie Through the Never, and released its first live music video Live: Legend I, D, Z Apocalypse, which debuted at seventh place in the weekly Oricon Blu-ray Disc charts, and at second place among music Blu-rays. In December, Babymetal performed at Anime Festival Asia Indonesia 2013 and performed for a second time in Singapore.
On February 26, 2014, Babymetal released its first, eponymous album. It contained thirteen tracks and was also available in a limited edition that included a DVD with music videos and live footage. The album was well received by music critics as well as the public, selling over 37,000 copies in Japan its first week, debuting at number four on the Oricon Weekly Album Chart, and number two in Billboard Japan. It also topped iTunes Metal charts in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, and reached number 187 on the US Billboard 200 chart on March 22. Their album also made it into the Heatseekers chart at number four. On March 1 and 2, 2014, the band gave two concerts at Budokan. With the average age of 14.7, they became youngest-ever female act to perform a show there. The two concerts were attended by 20,000 people. On April 3, 2014, an episode of the Fine Brothers' YouTubers React show was uploaded to YouTube, covering the band and the music videos of "Doki Doki Morning", "Iine!", and "Gimme Chocolate!!"; the band members' own reaction to the video would later be released in 2016.
At the end of their March 2 Budokan concert, Babymetal also announced their first world tour, the Babymetal World Tour 2014, initially performing in Paris and Cologne. UK's Sonisphere Festival was subsequently added to the tour, after being formally invited to play following a successful fan-driven campaign entitled "Babymetal For Sonisphere UK 2014", which Sonisphere later acknowledged on its website. After the UK leg of the tour, the band went on to make their debut appearance in the United States on July 27 with a headlining show at The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. They played Heavy Montréal 2014 in Canada on August 9 alongside Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax; and also performed at Summer Sonic 2014 in Japan on the Mountain Stage with bands such as Avenged Sevenfold and Megadeth. Babymetal was also the opening act to five of Lady Gaga's concerts in her ArtRave: The Artpop Ball 2014 tour in August along the western United States. Babymetal also released their second live album Live: Legend 1999 & 1997 Apocalypse on October 19, 2014, featuring their live performances at both the NHK Hall and at Makuhari Messe Event Hall from 2013.
In August 2014, it was announced that the band would return to England to play another show at London's O2 Academy Brixton on November 8, their final European show of the year as part of the group's "Babymetal Apocalypse" phase. It was later announced that the band would also return to New York City, which they had visited earlier in the year without giving an actual performance, performing at the Hammerstein Ballroom on November 4. At their Brixton performance, the band debuted a new song titled "Road of Resistance." Later revealed to be a collaboration with Sam Totman and Herman Li of prominent power metal band DragonForce, the song was subsequently released as a bonus track of their first live album Live at Budokan: Red Night, released simultaneously along with the band's third live video album Live at Budokan: Red Night & Black Night Apocalypse on January 7, 2015, and later released as a digital single. Li later revealed via Twitter and Facebook posts that he and Totman had been working on the song's guitar parts since 2013. In 2015, they re-released their eponymous album via earMusic and RAL/Sony Music Entertainment. Ahead of their performance at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards on June 15, the trio made a surprise appearance during DragonForce's set at Download Festival, performing "Gimme Chocolate!!", despite event organizer Andy Copping stating that he would never book the band.
2016–2017: Touring and Metal Resistance
During the band's headlining shows at Yokohama Arena in December 2015, announced a second studio album to be released on April 1, 2016, as well as a world tour starting in London at the Wembley Arena, and concluding in Japan with a debut at the Tokyo Dome. On January 15, 2016, the second album's title was revealed to be Metal Resistance.
Their second album had shown differences from their debut album. Yuimetal states that "compared to the first album and definitely the second album they challenged themselves to a lot of new, different types of genres of music, even more than before." Another difference is that there is more use of positive lyrics than ever before. The band made a point to provide a wide variety of styles to attract a wider audience and performed a full song in English.
The band came up with the album title Metal Resistance because they believed it represents who they are and what they do as Babymetal. Su-metal said that "it's about them exploring new, different aspects of what they can do."
On March 13, the band's producer, Kobametal, received an Excellence Award from the Association of Media in Digital (AMD) in Japan for his success in promoting the band internationally. On April 2, one day after the release of Metal Resistance, Babymetal became the first Japanese act to headline Wembley Arena, with the largest sale of merchandise for a single day event in the venue's history, coinciding with the highest ever entry for an album in the UK charts for a Japanese act. The Guardian gave their Wembley performance a rating of five out of five stars. On April 5, Babymetal made their U.S. television debut, performing "Gimme Chocolate!!" on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Babymetal were added as a character skin in the Wii U video game Super Mario Maker in 2016.
On May 26, 2016, WWE's Triple H announced on Twitter that Babymetal's song "Karate", along with A Day to Remember's "Paranoia", would be used as official theme songs of NXT TakeOver: The End. On July 18, the band made a special appearance at the Alternative Press Music Awards where they performed "Karate" before being joined onstage by Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford. Halford, along with Nakamoto and the Kami Band, performed an abridged version of "Painkiller", followed by a performance of "Breaking the Law" where they were rejoined by Mizuno and Kikuchi on guitars. On July 27, Metal Hammer readers voted Babymetal's debut album as the best album of the 21st century. In September 2016, Warner Bros. announced that a hybrid live action-animation fantasy-adventure short form series featuring the members of the band was under development. The series would be developed by Blue Ribbon Content in collaboration with Amuse Group USA (an Amuse Inc. subsidiary based in the United States). The band's producer, Kobametal, is also involved with production of the series.
On September 19 (Red Night) and September 20, 2016 (Black Night), Babymetal ended their Babymetal World Tour 2016: Legend Metal Resistance by performing at the Tokyo Dome, with both nights sold out and approximately 55,000 people attending each night. These included fans from Japan and many others from around the world. Yuimetal admitted she was "still in shock" that she was playing at the venue. Moametal felt the same, calling it "a big challenge for young girls of our age to stand on that stage". Su-metal explained that "In Japan we have played many big venues like Budokan and others, but Tokyo Dome was always a place that I have been dreaming of performing at." In December 2016, Babymetal supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers during The Getaway World Tour in the UK. During their final show on the tour, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith joined Babymetal onstage to perform their covers of Judas Priest's "Painkiller" and "Breaking the Law". After the performance, Smith thanked Babymetal for being on tour with them and led the audience in singing "Happy Birthday" to Su-metal.
In January 2017, Babymetal supported Metallica for their WorldWired Tour at Gocheok Sky Dome and also appeared in Japan's performance of the Guns N' Roses' Not in This Lifetime... Tour as the opening act. In April 2017, Babymetal supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers during The Getaway World Tour in the US. In June 2017, Babymetal performed at the KISW Pain in the Grass music event in Auburn, Washington. During the summer of 2017, they supported Korn on their Serenity of Summer Tour. Afterwards, they commenced their The Five Fox Festival in Japan tour.
In October 2017, Babymetal were officially revealed as the performers of the "Unikitty Theme" for the Unikitty! TV series. On December 2 and 3, 2017, Babymetal performed at the Hiroshima Green Arena, with the shows billed Legend "S" Baptism XX. This was the first time the group performed in Su-Metal's hometown of Hiroshima, and it was an early coming of age celebration for her, since December 20, 2017 was her 20th birthday (as hinted in the show title), the age of majority in Japan; the lyrics to "Headbangeeeeerrrrr!!!!", about a girl's fifteenth birthday, were even modified for the occasion. This was also Babymetal's first performance without all three members, as Yuimetal was unable to perform due to illness.
On December 30, 2017, Kami Band guitarist Mikio Fujioka fell from an observation deck; he died from his injuries on January 5, 2018. Babymetal released a eulogy on Twitter on January 9, commemorating his work with the band.
2018–2020: The Chosen Seven era, departure of Yuimetal, Metal Galaxy
On April 1, 2018, Babymetal posted a video to YouTube entitled "Metal Resistance Episode VII – The Revelation". In the video, it is explained that a "dark side" of Babymetal exists, "with seven metal spirits", and that a "new era is about to begin". A graphic novel entitled Apocrypha: The Legend of Babymetal was also announced in the following days. Written by "the Prophet of the Fox God" and Illustrated by GMB Chomichuk, it was released on October 30 by Z2 Comics.
On May 1, 2018, Babymetal announced that they were launching their own record label, named Babymetal Records. On May 8, just ahead of the Babymetal World Tour 2018, the band released a music video for a new single, "Distortion". Yuimetal was absent from Babymetal's tour of the United States in May 2018, with no advance warning. Amid fan speculation on Mizuno's status with the group, a representative of 5B Management, the American management company representing Babymetal, replied to an inquiry from Alternative Press Magazine by saying that "Yuimetal remains a member of the band, but she is not on this current U.S. tour." The reply also hinted about "a new narrative for the future of the band which is currently evolving" and a "storyline" that "has changed."
Yuimetal remained absent for the rest of their tour, until their agency announced at a shareholders' meeting in June that she had been in poor health since December 2017, and was "currently recovering". On October 19, 2018, shortly before the Japan leg of the tour, the band released a new single, "Starlight". On the same day, the band officially announced Yuimetal's departure from the group. Afterward, Mizuno released a statement explaining her decision and her desire to pursue a solo career. During their tour, Babymetal also performed at Rock on the Range in Columbus, Ohio, the Download Festival in Donington Park, United Kingdom, and the Rock am Ring and Rock im Park festivals in Germany. On July 9, 2018, the band was declared champion of the Heavy Metal World Cup 2018.
On April 1, 2019, Babymetal announced that they would be releasing their third album later that year. On May 10, 2019, the band released the single "Elevator Girl". On May 29, 2019, it was announced that Babymetal would perform at the Glastonbury Festival in England on June 30, making them the first Japanese band to play on one of the festival's main stages. Babymetal also revealed plans for their first arena concert in the United States at The Forum in Los Angeles, CA, set for October 11, 2019. The date of the concert coinceded with the release date of their third studio album, Metal Galaxy. Their performance at The Forum was compiled into a live album, Live at the Forum, released in DVD and Blu-ray formats on May 13, 2020.
On June 27 2019, Babymetal released the single "Pa Pa Ya!!", featuring Thai rapper F.Hero, before their concert at Yokohama Arena the same day. The video, released on July 1, featured footage from their concert in Yokohama. It included touring member Kano Fujihira, one of three girls rotating in Yui's place - Kano Fujihira, Riho Sayashi, and Momoko Okazaki - who are known as the "Avengers". Following their performance, they announced the Metal Galaxy Wourld Tour to promote their new album, starting in September 2019, and closing out in March 2020. A scheduled performance at Clockenflap in Hong Kong in November 2019 was canceled due to the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests. Further concerts in Asia were initially postponed on March 4 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but were ultimately canceled in June. In April, they streamed two "Stay Home, Stay Metal" shows on YouTube during the pandemic, which consisted of footage from two prior concerts from 2016. Their performances at Makuhari Messe in January 2020 were compiled into the live album Legend – Metal Galaxy, which was released on September 9.
In October 2019, the band became the first Asian act to reach the peak of Billboard Top Rock Albums Chart. In 2020, Babymetal was featured as a guest artist on Bring Me the Horizon's EP Post Human: Survival Horror, on the song "Kingslayer".
On November 16, 2020, NHK announced that Babymetal would take part in the 71st NHK Kōhaku Uta Gassen on New Year's Eve, marking their first appearance in the competition. A poll conducted by Yahoo! Japan ahead of the airing determined that the most anticipated song of the night was Babymetal's performance of "Ijime, Dame, Zettai", with 26.3% of the vote. Participating on the red team, they won with 2,635,200 votes compared to the white team's 1,383,180 votes.
2021–present: The Other One
The band's first retrospective album 10 Babymetal Years was released on December 23, 2020. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the band's formation, their live videos were released in audio-only vinyl format on August 25, 2021. On October 11, 2021, the band released a cryptic video hinting a hiatus or end of the band with the message "The 3 metal spirits that have been shining since 2010, even if they were to leave Earth, would continue to shine forever in our hearts and across the Metal Galaxy. A legend turns into a myth which turns into a Living Legend… What lies ahead beyond the end of the stairway to becoming a Living Legend is something only the Fox God knows."
Babymetal announced their upcoming fourth album The Other One on October 11, 2022, which they revealed to be a concept album set to release on March 24, 2023. The lead single from the album, "Divine Attack (Shingeki)" (Japanese: Divine Attack - 神撃 -), was released on October 20, 2022. This is the first Babymetal song for which all lyrics were written by Nakamoto. The second single from the album, "Monochrome", was released on November 17 with a lyric video, a first for the band. On January 19, 2023, Babymetal released the single "Metal Kingdom", along with revealing the track list for The Other One.
On October 18, 2022, Swedish metal band Sabaton announced that Babymetal would perform at their shows for the European leg of their world tour alongside Finnish band Lordi. On January 28 and 29, 2023, Babymetal played at Makuhari Messe, marking their first live concert in nearly two years. They played a total of 13 songs, five of which were from their album The Other One. Footage from the concerts was used for the music video for "Metal Kingdom", which released on February 3, 2023. They released the song "Light And Darkness" on February 23 with an accompanying music video, which likewise consisted of footage from their concerts at Makuhari Messe. On the days prior to the release, they posted two teasers for the video to their YouTube channel.