So I woke up this morning to see this floating around on my Twitter timeline
“Minanokodomochan has completely shifted from a dual unit to a band system. All live performances will be performed as a band in the future except for the currently booked shows.”
Hmm I thought, another idol group that’s decided to blur the lines between idol and band, now that I’m thinking about it we’ve seen quite a bit of this recently haven’t we?
Broken By The Scream noticeably playing with a band more often than not and performing at non idol lineup shows, BABYMETAL the would be pioneers of using a backing band to gain legitimacy amongst the west and then there are those who are kinda doing the whole ‘backing band’ thing right in my opinion, but I’ll talk about those later.
I’m left wondering why the sudden choice for so many groups to have a backing band or portray themselves as something they are not? Is there some financial gain or other benefits to be had by doing things a more band oriented way whilst still fundamentally operating as an idol group?
Using BABYMETAL as my guinea pig I decided to open up a little poll in the Alternative idol group on Facebook and see what peoples opinions were; the question was simple enough – Do people care about the band being there enough for it to negatively impact their decisions to go and see the actual group when the band is not there?
I worded it in a hypothetical situation, sat back and waited for the inevitable shitstorm.
But none came.
Instead I received comments from people that didn’t really care either way and would be happy to see the group regardless as well as some other interesting opinions and perspectives, I’ll post a few comments and address them down below:
“Provided I can afford it yes, i’m into idols, can’t expect everyone to have a live band”
“As awesome as the Kami band is, the music and 3 members are the focus!”
“Yes, 3 girls over Kami any day. Even though they would be able to find alternate musicians. The Kami are good, but good session musicians are not that hard to find.”
“it probably depends on where in the US they go. I’m not really willing to travel further than NY or Philly for Babymetal at this point.”
Seems to me the most important things that dictate whether or not someone is willing to go to a show these days are still the common sense stuff: time, money and how much effort is required to get there and make it happen. If people are still willing to go see BABYMETAL without their “godlike” backing band then just how much do ‘idol‘ fans really care about backing bands at all?
Some other interesting points other people brought up included:
“for the record, having a band doesn’t always make the concert more enjoyable. (Necronomidol) *cough cough* ”
This is a good point for a couple of reasons I’ll talk about in a bit (though for the record I do personally enjoy Necronomidols band sets), my first thought was when idol groups move over to a more band like approach and work within a live music setting how do they replicate older material that didn’t involve live instrumentation?
Do they simply bastardise the older material and make it work with the new style of performance and instrumentation or do they just drop it from their setlists all together? In Necromas case they usually drop the older more synth heavy songs when doing band sets in favour of songs that match with that particular style of performance, for those who love their more metal oriented songs I’m sure this is preferable but for those who enjoy a lot of Necromas older synth heavy music this may leave them a bit disappointed on the setlist at the show.
Luckily Necroma’s band sets are usually for ‘special occasions‘ and they still regularly perform with just playback so fans can experience the whole spectrum of musical styles Necroma has to offer, they also make no bones about being an idol group and specifically mention the backing band as the “Necroma Band” or have a preexisting band perform on backup duties like they did with Zeroshiki on the US tour, all in all I’d say Necronomidol are one of the groups along with the likes of Oyasumi Hologram, Tsurezure..etc I think that are actually doing the whole ‘backing band set’ thing pretty well in my book at least.
Anyways back to those comments!
“Lets pretend I’m hardcore fan of BM. Then yes, its normal thing in idol world after all. But price of ticket should be normal. With band 1300czk, without band 700czk.”
An interesting thought; does having a backing band mean the show should cost more money?
There are a few things to think about here, are people thinking about this from a logical standpoint and taking into account the cost of bringing a band and equipment and so on, or is it that we place more value on something that has live instrumentation?
Personally I understand one might cost more than the other to organise and put on as a show, but taking that out of the equation I honestly think both shows have equal entertainment value and should cost the same, let me know what you think in comments below!
Another interesting take;
“Yes because it’s still fun, just more cheesy fun than ‘we have a band therefore we’re legitimate in the west’ which is basically why the kami band are there in the first place.”
I’ve spoken about how I feel like the word band gets given some sort of superiority over the term idol group at length, so I shouldn’t need to give my opinion to much on this but here it is:
Idol clearly isn’t a recognised respectable term in the west (I’m not even sure the majority of everyday people in the west even know exactly what an idol is) and the only exposure some people have had with ‘idol‘ is probably some news article or documentary all about the ‘dark side‘ of idol or some other inflammatory piece trying to point fingers at Japan for ‘this and that‘. There’s also the misguided notions and connotations associated with idols which put people off describing something they like as idol (forced graduations at certain ages happen in every group! It’s all just a front for the teen sex work and exploitation!) and so on and so forth.
All together this kind of thing has kinda made people well I’m just going to say it; ashamed to admit they like idols and leads to trying to pass them off as something else where possible to friends and curious eyes to avoid awkward questions.
Now this leads into the whole ‘legitimacy in the west‘ thing quite well, idol groups that are performing styles well established in the west by bands will undoubtedly face opposition and judgement based on how things work in the west when trying to perform abroad, if that idol group does not conform to what westerners know to be the ‘norm’ they’ll be mocked and face criticism as I think a lot of us saw in the early days of BABYMETAL‘s exposure in the west, especially within the metal community.
Luckily for BABYMETAL they seem to have won over enough people that they are a bit more accepted now, I mostly attribute this down to them having the Kami-band with them, so does this mean if other idol groups want to find success and be considered ‘legitimate‘ (whatever the hell that really means) in the west they have to do so with a backing band? An interesting thought for sure.
All in all the idol vs band debate will rage on, some groups will continue to blur the lines and others will make it clear they are idol group that occasionally uses a backing band, ultimately how you decide to describe what you like and listen to is down to you, but consider this;
What are we afraid of when it comes to public speaking about idol music?
Why do people shy away from the label and drift more towards ‘band‘?
Does it seem like an embarrassing hobby because we’ve made it that way?
How exactly can we change that?
My answer is as it always has been; good music and good conversations with people.
Educate people about what’s good about idol music,
show em all the cool stuff you like!(lord knows you all have enough of it by now!)
Honestly people speak better when it’s about the things they are passionate about, watching someone talk about something they enjoy can really tell you all you need to know about a person and who knows? you might even broaden their horizons or show them a whole new world of music and experiences they never knew existed!
Well I’ve rambled on long enough already!
Let me know what you think on the subject and also let me know if you enjoy reading stuff like this! I’m eager to know whether people would be interested in segments like this from me more often.