I don’t know if a band has ever gotten consistently better live over time than Babymetal. It’s astonishing to see how far they’ve come from the days of three girls dancing to a track of Doki Doki Morning. This is the last performance of Mikio, who died tragically in a freak accident one month after the Hiroshima concert. It’s a subtle tribute, but when Su sings “Nidoto ae-nai” which means “we shall never meet again”, you can see the camera switches momentarily to Mikio.

Apparently this song has only been performed live five times, never outside of Japan. Su’s voice keeps getting stronger over the years, and while one of the guitars are a bit sharp in the first solo, the additional layers provided by the live piano and strings make this my favorite version yet. Although Leda did the original arrangement, I think I like it best when Mikio and Ohmura play it together.

It’s always intriguing to see the way musically sensitive people react to this song. It’s not unusual for them to cry despite having no idea what the lyrics are or what the song is about. And understanding them really does not help at all….

We shall never meet again but I never want to forget you.
If the dream continues, I hope I never wake up from it.

Babymetal goes Indian

This is actually my favorite so far of their new songs off Metal Galaxy. Kano is no Yui, but she appears to work with Su and Moa better than the other two girls they’ve tried. And this new Indian theme, in combination with their shows with The Hu, makes me suspect that Koba-metal is actually attempting to conquer the world.

RIP Rick Ocasek

Another leading musician of the ’80s is gone:

The lead singer of The Cars has died at the age of 75 after being found ‘unconscious and unresponsive’ in his Manhattan townhouse.

Ric Ocasek was discovered by estranged wife Paulina Porizkova at around 4.14pm inside his Gramercy Park home in New York, Page Six reported.

The frontman was pronounced dead at the scene and appeared to have died from natural causes.

The Cars were my first favorite band as a teenager. Their sound was definitely new and different, as they bridged the gap between guitar rock and synth pop in a way that pretty much defined the New Wave.

Song of Women

The palm tree grows and flowersAs she sings softly my soul retainsHonorable ladyCompassionate and delicateThe Argali springs and flies in the mountainsHer fondness melts me languidlyHonorable ladyCompassionate and lovelyThe birds sing and tweet in the blue skyThey are happy and joyful in their soulsHonorable ladyCompassionate and mesmerizingWith the precious words of your forefathersWith the milk blessed road of your mother’s, the true pathWith the power of love for your motherlandHave a fighter spirit in your body, be steadyAs if you were a sword with a sharp bladeAs if you were an arrow ready to shoot, spring and fly, ride and rise

This. So very much this.

The invaluable Nate explains how Generation X has killed The Beatles for good.

GenZ has never heard the Beatles and likely never will… because GenX hates them and never played them for their kids in GenZ.

He’s absolutely right. Neither Spacebunny nor I ever played any of their songs for our kids. Prince, yes. AC|DC, yes. David Sylvian, absolutely. Handel, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, The Eagles, The Beach Boys, and even Duran Duran, yes. But no Beatles, no Rolling Stones, and they are far more familiar with The Hu than The Who.

In the amusingly damning words of one GenZ metal guitar player, “The Beatles will be around about as long as Justin Bieber.”

Some things never change

A Boomer booms about how rock and roll is dying with his generation and nothing will ever be that good or important again:

Jazz died off as a mass genre for two reasons. First, as Mark Gauvreau Judge wrote in his fun 2000 book, If It Ain’t Got That Swing, postwar economics and the rise of bebop as a counterforce in jazz greatly killed off the big bands of the 1930s and ‘40s, but the complexities of bop led many teenagers in the 1950s to seek out rock and roll as a simpler music style to dance along with. Capitol Records putting the full force of their PR team behind The Beatles when they arrived in America in early 1964 cemented rock and roll as the dominant musical genre for teenage whites, as Nat “King” Cole, who helped make Capitol a dominant force in America in the 1950s, discovered to his horror when he called their flagship Los Angeles office that year and the receptionist answered “Capitol Records – home of The Beatles!”

However, by the beginning of the 21st century, rock’s dominance was already on the wane when first Napster and then Apple’s iTunes radically altered how consumers access music. MTV, which gave rock a new lease on life after music industry fears in the early ‘80s that video games would replace their product as teens’ primary consumer spending good, was itself a spent force by the mid-to-late 1990s.

Hence, the nostalgia that many rock fans feel, with little or no new product that’s equal to the material produced during rock and roll’s heyday.

There is some truth concerning the way in which the atomization of culture is preventing the monocultural dominance by whatever the mainstream media corporations decided to push on teenagers. But the idea that there is little or no new music that is equal to that produced during what Boomers consider to be rock’s heyday is patently absurd.

Today little Japanese girls wearing maid outfits not only rock harder, they play their instruments much better, than all the rockers of the 1960s and the vast majority of those of the 1970s. And there isn’t a single guitarist of that generation who could ever shred as well as the average YouTube guitarist today.

Boomers like the author simply don’t understand that the fact music isn’t being played on the radio or on the evening television variety shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

Solving the current crisis

While Babymetal has tried a number of different approaches for replacing the irreplaceable, none of them has come even close to working. I refer, of course, to the absence of Yui; they always had a guitarist to spare, so as much as “the smiley guy” is sorely missed – and who did not notice Ohmura playing his late friend’s red guitar instead of Pink-chan at Glastonbury – they have always had more than adequate options on hand.

However, in light of the third iteration of Ladybaby, there are two solid possible replacements. The more obvious one is Fuka, who actually bears some resemblance to Yui and has a similar low-key stage presence. But a more intriguing possibility is Rie, who has become the leader of Ladybaby as it has made a transition similar to the one that Babymetal went through when it ditched the Babybones dancers in favor of the brilliant musicians of the Kami Band.

Speaking of the Kami Band, if that guitar riff from Haten Ni Ramei was any more Onedari Daisuken, they’d have had to put the guitarist in a sheet and paint his face white. Although it is a pity that with the addition of the live band, Ladybaby didn’t retain much of the kawai dance.

Anyhow, as this live version of Nippon Manju shows, Rie has the energy and charisma to keep up with Su, and although her voice isn’t as strong, it has a nice and identifiable sound to it. And it would be interesting to see Babymetal pair someone up with Su rather than Moa.

Actually, there is a third option that might actually be the best one. What is Rei doing these days? Okay… was really not expecting that.