The former LADYBABY duo prove that they’re an outfit that can’t be licked…
The initial success of LADYBABY was something of a surprise to all parties concerned. ‘Nippon Manju’, the song that propelled the 3-piece idol outfit to global attention, clocked up over 16 million views on YouTube after its arrival in 2015. Aside from the insanely catchy tune that the song had, there was certainly something of a novelty factor about LADYBABY that might have inspired doubts for their staying power.
The combination of the bearded crossdressing metal singer Ladybeard with the diminutive Rie Kaneko and Rei Kuromiya were certainly visually arresting. But rather than call it a day after the initial shockwaves that ‘Nippon Manju’ generated, the threesome followed it up in 2016 with the equally catchy ‘Age-Age Money’ and Renge Chance’.
Appearances at events outside of Japan also followed, including a special showcase at London’s Hyper Japan in 2015. Things came to a crashing halt however when Ladybeard made a statement announcing a parting of the ways. Although the exact details for the split have not been revealed, there was a rapid change of plans behind the scenes as both Rei and Rie continued as a duo.
Rebranded as The Idol Formerly Known As LADYBABY, there was some initial scepticism from some camps that the pair could continue without the imposing presence of Ladybeard (who has since become part of Deadlift Lolita). But it’s unlikely that any drama is capable of stopping a powerhouse like Rei Kuromiya in her tracks. Having already demonstrated her chops under the umbrella of her own rock outfit BRATS, it was always clear that there was an energy there that is far from being diminished.
Their first output under the guise of The Idol Formerly Known As LADYBABY with ‘Sanpai！Gosyuin girl☆’ seemed to be a departure into more conventional idolpop territory. The addition of some death metal vocals à la Ladybeard seemed to be more of an afterthought, with the focus on Rei and Rie’s vocals front and centre.
That brings us neatly to their latest release in the form of ‘Pelo’. Now signed to the King Records label, ‘Pelo’ (which is onomatopoeia in Japanese representing the sound of licking) is a song with lyrics discarding the past and moving forward, making it a topical tune for the duo.
‘Pelo’ opts for a much harder rock sound than previous tunes and appears to be tacking closer to the idol metal of BABYMETAL, which shouldn’t be that surprising as these groups, which include the likes of Death Rabbits, have all long been dabbling in the same pool.
As with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, The Idol Formerly Known As LADYBABY has also taken a crack at an Easter song in the form of ‘Easter Bunny’, which is included with ‘Pelo’. The seasonal tune is more of a pop-orientated affair, illustrating that the pair can slip easily between genres.
‘Pelo’ has also been licenced for release via JPU Records. This domestic release also has some additional extras for UK buyers, including a T-shirt and a poster
Pelo is out now on JPU Records. More details: www.jpurecords.com/ladybaby_pelo
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