Friday, February 28, 2014

Babymetal vs. John Zorn

John Zorn liked to talk about composing in "blocks" and Stockhausen, etc. Now here comes Babymetal:

Compare to a typical Zorn piece, Osaka Bondage (below, from Naked City's Grand Guignol). Zorn is more grating, but the juxtaposition of genres is actually much clearer in the Babymetal piece, which also includes a visual aspect. Note that this is not Zorn-bashing. I've seen him play New Years Eve shows at Tonic. But does it make a difference when someone is doing the same thing mostly for commercial reasons, and not talking about theory, or for that matter selling to people who care about it?) The point is made that Zorn was doing this 25 years ago, but it's interesting that it's now J-pop with the label confidence implied by an obvious budget.

Performances that seem to be deliberately written to fit into certain genres also force us to ask, what differentiates genre self-consciousness from straight parody? Are we sure that John Zorn and Babymetal's songs were not written by Key and Peele? As the world gets wealthier we're swimming in more art and each generation will be better at picking out the essential aspects of each genre, for ridicule or otherwise.

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