Friday, March 7, 2014

BABYMETAL -- "Give Me Chocolate!!" (2014)

I can have a bit of chocolate, can't I?
I think so, don't you?  
It's so good  
I'll be so happy and can work hard
So, chocolate  
I can have a bit of chocolate, can't I?
I think so, don't you?  
Just a little bit  
I'll eat just a little bit of chocolate

I don't waste as much time fiddling about on Facebook as some people I know.  Which is not to say that I don't waste a lot of time fiddling about on Facebook.

My Facebook time is generally spent doing one of three things:

1.  Hitting "I don't want to see this" or "Hide all from [fill in the blank]" when my Facebook friends invite me to play some dumb game or they post some inane piece of political nonsense (i.e., anything liberal).

2.  Taking those annoying Buzzfeed quizzes, like "Which U.S. President Are You?" (I got Ronald Reagan) and "What City Should You Live In?" (I got Capetown, South Africa, which makes zero sense) and "What State Should You Live In?" (I got Wisconsin, which makes even less sense).  

3.  Clicking on the really odd links that my friends post.

Which is how I learned about BABYMETAL, a three-girl offshoot of the Japanese female group Sakura Gakuin ("Cherry Blossom Academy").  BABYMETAL's eponymous first album -- which includes today's featured song, "Give Me Chocolate!!" (also rendered as "Gimme Choco!!" or "Gimi Choko!!") -- was released only about a week ago.

You think American teenagers are crazy?  Japanese teenagers are REALLY crazy -- if you don't believe me, let me tell you about Japanese idols.

Japanese idols are media personalities (usually although not always girls) who are really, really cute.  They don't have a very long shelf life -- maybe a few months, maybe a year -- but for that short period they will be everywhere: in teen magazines, on television shows, etc.

Many idols are Japanese pop ("J-pop") singers, who are generally known as much for their appearance and pop-culture ubiquity as they are for their music.  Think of a combination of Kim Kardashian and Dino, Desi, and Billy.

(Many of my readers won't know who Kim Kardashian is.  Others won't know who Dino, Desi, and Billy are.  An uncomfortably large number will have never heard of Kim, Dino, Desi, or Billy.)

The idol phenomenon started in Japan in the 1970s, supposedly inspired by the appearance of the female Bulgarian-French singer Slyvie Vartan in a 1963 French movie.  (It all makes about as much sense as Kim Kardashian and Dino, Desi, and Billy.)  The 1980s were considered the golden age of Japanese idols, but they are still around today.

(It's b-a-c-k!)
Idols have to be cute and innocent -- female idols are ideally not only virgins, but girls who have never had a boyfriend.  Every so often, the Japanese paparazzi snap a photo of an idol holding hands with or (horrors!) kissing a boy, which is the end of that idol's career.  

The Japanese public is becoming more tolerant of idols who are a little less saccharine than idols used to be.  It's OK to be a little older these days -- the original idols were teenagers -- and a little more real.  Female idols can be a little less innocent, although getting knocked up by a rapper would certainly disqualify one from continued idolness.

Like many Japanese pop groups, the idol group Sakura Gakuin was formed by a talent agency.  It currently has ten members, none of whom are older than 15.  (When a member of Sakura Gakuin graduates from junior high school, she graduates from the group as well.)

BABYMETAL consists of three current and former Sakura Gakuin members, who go by the names SU-METAL, MOAMETAL, and YUIMETAL.  (SU-METAL, who is 16, does most of the singing.  The other two members -- who are 14 -- mostly dance around and shriek.)

BABYMETAL mixes J-pop and heavy metal, and the resulting combination is no less bizarre than you would expect.  "Give Me Chocolate" starts off sounding like classic Metallica, but then the girls start singing and you don't know what the hell hit you.  I don't know if they have LSD in Japan, but I can't imagine you would encounter anything weirder than BABYMETAL if you dropped acid in downtown Tokyo.

Here's an interesting analysis of the message behind "Give Me Chocolate!!" that I found on a Japanese fan blog:

It's Natural for 13-15 Yr. Girls to Grow Fat

This is a song of a girl who likes chocolate and worries about gaining weight.  Roughly speaking, girls in their preteen and teenage first grow tall, second grow fat, and finally become shaped up without special efforts.  Girls need not worry much if they grow fat in this second stage.  It's just because of the unstability in the growth stage.

But girls' problem is rather that the fat is stored in undesirable positions in the process of storing the fat in desirable positions than eating too much, so they can eat far less than needed if they hope to reduce undesirable fat only by dieting.  Not to be trapped by this, I wish girls to acquire the correct knowledge of the growth stage and shaping-up.

When boys (and men) say "you've grown fat," they say just as they see and don't mean "you've become ugly" in most cases.  But the Japanese women and girls tend to think "fatty is ugly" severer than the Japanese men's and boys' valuation.

The same Japanese blogger deserves credit for the English translation of the lyrics from "Give Me Chocolate!!" that appear at the beginning of this post.  Click here for the complete lyrics.

Here's "Give Me Chocolate!!"  Scoff at if you please, but I think BABYMETAL is indescribably fabulous.  (This video has been viewed almost two million times in one week.)

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