Babymetal Credit: Courtesy the Artist

Babymetal have really just one joke, but it’s a solid one. Since the band’s self-titled debut album in 2014, their formula has become familiar: Suzuka Nakamoto (Su-metal) sings chipper Japanese J-pop while dressed in gothy black dresses, and metalhead producer Key Kobayashi (Kobametal) provides a background of chunky death riffage and lightning-fast technical guitar solos. On the recent singles released ahead of their forthcoming album, Metal Galaxy (BMD Fox/Toy’s Factory/Amuse, Inc.), Babymetal don’t diverge from the blueprint—but they do demonstrate again why it’s been so successful. On the English-language version of “Elevator Girl,” Su-metal sings with adorable menace, “Hey lady . . . no matter what you say or what you do / You’re going da da da da down.” It’s a glimpse into the bleak, horror-movie heart of pop—an uncaring machine that inevitably grinds all resistance beneath it in its quest for world domination. As the catchy chorus kicks in (“Girl! We’re going up! / Girl! We’re going down!”), you realize that metal was always supposed to be about rainbows and puppies and Cthulhu plush toys. Purists may be irritated that Babymetal’s novelty has become an institution, but everyone knows metal bands tour forever—it’s best to just raise those Hello Kitty lighters and enjoy it.   v