Controlling the Hype

Media hype is an unusual thing.  In the last year or so we’ve seen organisations like Team Rock throw their weight behind bands like King 810 and Babymetal, two groups that arguably couldn’t be more different.  Yet, both apparently have the dubious honor of being worthy of taking their place as a ‘hyped band’.  Whether they would have succeeded with or without that is of course impossible to say, but there’s no denying that they will have come to many people’s attention through the mainstream rock press.

And yet the question has to be raised, why them?  Why these two bands, who I actually quite like, ahead of the hundreds of other great rock and metal bands currently plowing their way through the underground?  Is it because they both have, for lack of a better word, a gimmick?  Babymetal are a cynically put together Japanese pop band, no matter how heavy the riffs are, and King 810, however real it may be, have used their backgrounds to market themselves very successfully.  To make it in 2015, do you need a story?

Because isn’t that against the point?  The heavy metal community prides itself on not being like that.  We don’t have X-Factor sob stories, we are here for the music.  So why are these bands being pointed to as shining examples of heavy music in 2015?  Babymetal are mildly amusing and have some great musicians, but you can’t tell me with a straight face that they are actually a better band than the likes of Palm Reader, who are consistently overlooked by these publications?  I mean I guess you could tell me that, but you’d be wrong.

It seems that in 2015, where countless albums are released on a daily basis, bands feel the need to have a selling point.  Something that makes them unique.  Whether that is dressing like Ned Flanders or being from Flint, Michigan, it’s just become the way of it and it threatens to overwhelm the bands that are just releasing good music.  I’ve been listening to the new EP from Creeper and it’s great, but there are no bells or whistles on it.  It’s good punk rock and it makes me smile.  Now Creeper do seem to be building up one hell of a reputation at the moment and I’m ten times more interested in them than I am a Ned Flanders band, but I have heard a lot more about them than I have Creeper.

Hype of course doesn’t make a career and a lot of bands have been declared the second coming and ended up being taken round back and having a bullet put between their eyes.  While on the flip-side, bands like Bring Me The Horizon have been dismissed by the world at large and gone on to be one of the best acts we have.  However, what hype does do is bring people’s attention to bands they might have missed otherwise and I can’t help feeling the British rock press is going with the wrong groups.  Babymetal don’t need our help, they’ve got the machine behind them.  Some of these young British bands don’t have that pleasure and if we could donate a few inches to them, it might just make all the difference.

If you do fancy some good music chat that tries to ignore the hype, then I suggest you check out Stephen Hill and Terry Bezer’s new podcast, That’s Not Metal.  I’ve got nothing to do with it and apart from once briefly meeting Hill before a comedy gig he did at the Edinburgh Fringe have never even met the guys, but it’s two passionate bloke talking about music and is well worth a listen.

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