The rise of “cute metal”


It happened in the mid-1970s, then the early 1980s, then the early 1990s, and now it’s happening again: underground metal is splitting away from what the mainstream will tolerate. Except that now the window has moved so that mainstream metal includes many things once reserved to the underground.

The rise of “cute metal” exemplifies this condition. “Cute metal” is any metal that you cannot admit in public that you do not like, because to do so would violate an assumption of its innocence or moral defensibility. Cute metal does not make you like it because of the music. Cute metal makes you “like” it because of the social focus on it, and because not liking it would appear to others to be cruel on the level of kicking kittens.

History will record the progenitors of “cute metal” as saccharine concoction Babymetal (which you must like or you hate preteen girls). With the rise of Unlocking the Truth, cute metal goes into overdrive (and you must like it or you hate black preteens). The term “cute metal” and the picture come from the second article.

This situation occurs any time metal becomes popular enough that there is financial incentive to turn it into a product. Speed metal like Metallica originally shocked and offended plans, but once people saw their girlfriends toe-tapping along to “One,” a new market formed. Next stop: “Enter Sandman,” which is so mellow that you can play it at your high school and adults will say how cute it is and how it reminds them of their own youths in the turbulent 1960s. Old people music.

Cute metal takes the same position. Wouldn’t it be nice to have underground metal that you could play at your desk at work, or show around at the neighborhood watch meeting? Cute metal offends no one; in fact, it is offensive to dislike it. You must join the herd and buzz with the hive about how precious it is, how unique it is, and how different it is… in fact, you can buzz about anything except its musical qualities, which are forgettable.

Emerging from this will be a new notion of what it is to be underground. It will operate on the converse idea of cute metal: the underground distrusts whatever “most people” think is a good idea, because most people are always wrong. They indulge in fantasies and look at the surface instead of the underlying structure, and use those visions to socialize instead of experiencing a more intense vision of reality. But in the meantime, cute metal presents another twee abomination to dodge when it comes on the radio.

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11 thoughts on “The rise of “cute metal””

  1. Tralfamadorian says:

    So basically Metal for people with no interest in metal other than using it to make themselves appear eccentric and eclectic to their friends.

    Dethklok seems to fit the bill for cute metal. thankfully that fad has ran its course and will soon be forgotten, just like every other cute metal

  2. veien says:

    Dude, is there like a top five ‘cute metal’ albums or something for when I get really messed up and could punch my own mother in the face??

  3. EDS says:

    Or, it’s cool to turn your death metal band into a media whoring stunt, such as performing in an air tight box until the band runs out of air…

  4. Doug Vance says:

    When people ask “what’s so terrible about modernity and its music??”, I just don’t know what to tell them!

  5. Arvath says:

    Israthoum – Monument of Brimstone
    Musically, Monument of Brimstone competes with the best of its generation. This disc may never approach the all-seeing personality of a Beherit, but stands neck-to-neck with the new Profanatica.
    Israthoum – Monuments of Brimstone

  6. Shambler says:

    We live in a world with Deafheaven and Ulver: where emos playing emo is now “black metal”. I think mankind has about 80 years left (at most).

    Fathers of time
    Behold and forsake
    Bring an end to our timeless existence

    1. Shambler says:

      Also, file this under “cute metal”:

      Someone here mentioned Deathklok. Overall, today was a bad day.

      1. TREND PREDICTOR says:

        Ahahaha this sounds exactly as I thought it would!

  7. amber the hammer says:

    Sony is genius. They sign these boys to a 1.7 million dollar deal knowing 1. baby metal is gaining momentum and 2. most metal bands last 2-4 albums before running out of ideas. These kids don’t have six albums in them, so they’ll never get the full contract.

    Just wait until Disney gets into the action.

  8. trystero says:

    Aw come on, Babymetal is just a j-pop girl band. The less than auto super successful ones always need a gimmick in order to succeed (which the loud noises – not calling it metal – in Babymetal is).

    The way they are both spread around on the internet and weakly marketed outside Japan appropriates metal though, true to the article. Within Japan this is otaku food and outside its hipster nourishment.

  9. E says:

    Gallhammer anyone?

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