Riho Sayashi to join Babymetal?

Did Riho Sayashi join Babymetal? Maybe. No one knows at this point. What we do know is that the ex-Morning Musume ace performed with the metal-idols at their June 30th Glastonberry Festival performance, with no announcement or introduction made prior to or during the show. Sayashi’s appearance made the group a trio again, and allowed them to perform their routines as choreographed prior to Yuimetal’s departure.

Sayashi danced sans-microphone, leaving the backing chants to Moametal alone. Speculation about status of Riho’s membership in Babymetal immediately burned-up H!P and BM corners of the internet: is she a permanent member, or was this just a one-time stand-in? The answer is still murky, but it appears as if Sayashi is one of three rotating members to take the stage in Yui’s place. Current Sakura Gakuin leader, Kano Fujihira, is another member of this Babymetal bullpen, with the third being unknown to me at this time.

Further speculation would suggest that group management is looking for a full-time replacement for Yui, has narrowed the field of candidates to these three girls, and that these performances are a way to hold working auditions. I hope that’s the plan, anyway. I mean, they have to pick a third permanent member, don’t they? Part of the charm of following a group/band like Babymetal is buying into the fantasy narrative that is built around it, and rotating three part-timers would seem to break that connection with fans to a large degree. There is an odd psychology to pop music fandom that I touched on briefly in my LoVendoЯ essay, and it applies even more with BM, but for different reasons. Generally speaking, though, fans want a set lineup. I think there’s an almost sports-fan “team” mentality at the core of idol fandom (and let’s not forget that at their core, Babymetal is an idol group; metal music is just the thing that sets them apart), and BM’s makeup is not conducive to having a nameless, single backup dancer. She needs to be part of the team.

Babymetal could hardly do better than Riho Sayashi to round out their team. Her dance skills are strong (as you can see in the video above), she has experience performing in front of large audiences as a center, she has name recognition from her time in Morning Musume, and she looks the part. Honestly, she’s perfect for the job. Amuse may wish to keep the spot for one of their own home-grown idols, though, which would be a bummer, because joining Babymetal would instantly make Riho the most successful ex-Musume ever.

For her part, Riho acquitted herself well at Glastonberry. You can tell she’s not used to the rigors of a small-unit rock show, where there are no MCs or costume-changes to catch your breath, and she’s clearly winded by the end of the show. Stamina can be built, though, and she danced hard and with precision despite the dyspnea.

When do I get to make inane banter with the girls and take a breather?

Even if offered the job, though, Riho would have to want to join Babymetal full-time, and that’s another thing we can only speculate on. This performance could simply be the realization of what she said in her Morning Musume 20th Anniversay interview: “I love being on stage. It’s not like I’ve forgotten how to express myself there, but I just need time to get myself fully prepared. Also, I don’t want a life that reads like it has a storyline. I don’t want to give up that control. If I do get up on stage again, I’d want to appear all out of the blue. That’d be the most ‘me.'” So who knows. This could just be a lark for her, or a quick paycheck. Or she might really want the gig. I hope it’s the third choice, because Riho Sayashi sure looks like she’d be the perfect third member for Babymetal.

Concert screen-grabs from Ahornbjörn at Hello-online.org

2 thoughts on “Riho Sayashi to join Babymetal?

  1. This whole write-up looks at the situation from a Riho Sayashi POV. This is not the right way of looking at what has happened, given this is an international Amuse act and Riho, for all her popularity in Japan, is an unknown quantity, both to Amuse and Babymetal’s enormous international fanbase.

    “Did Riho Sayashi join Babymetal? Maybe. No one knows at this point.”
    No. She’s just one of three anonymous Avengers, there to give Su and Moa a helping hand and make things work, as a trio, on stage.

    “Current Sakura Gakuin leader, Kano Fujihira, is another member of this Babymetal bullpen, with the third being unknown to me at this time.”
    The third avenger is Momoko Okazaki, ex-Sakura Gakuin. BTW, Kano isn’t Sakura Gakuin’s leader; she isn’t Sakura Gakuin’s ace, ether. Both those positions are redundant when it comes to Sakura Gakuin. She is not necessarily the eldest member of the group. She is simply the President of the Student Council. The Student Council sees that things are running smoothly within the group and the President of the Student Council is the head honcho of the group and has a lot of powers and responsibilities within the group, unlike other idol groups.

    “Amuse may wish to keep the spot for one of their own home-grown idols, though, which would be a bummer, because joining Babymetal would instantly make Riho the most successful ex-Musume ever.”
    Amuse would, in all probability wish that one of their home-grown idols take that third spot. It is extremely telling that two of the three Avengers hail from Sakura Gakuin. They may also wish to give that third spot it back to Yui, in case she changes her mind. Though, there is every indication that they will give Koba a free hand and let him decide what to do as Babymetal has been his baby from the start.

    “Even if offered the job, though, Riho would have to want to join Babymetal full-time, and that’s another thing we can only speculate on.”
    What Amuse and Koba wants comes way before what Riho wants. Amuse will want what Koba wants, and, after the Yui episode, Koba will simply want to keep Su and Moa happy (given that they are the ones who will have to work with the third person concerned and the last thing he wants is either or both of them walking out, like Yui did) and they might not be willing to share with outsiders what they, together with Yui, have worked so hard to build up since they were teens. My guess is that this is the very reason for the existence for the Avengers.

    “Further speculation would suggest that group management is looking for a full-time replacement for Yui, has narrowed the field of candidates to these three girls, and that these performances are a way to hold working auditions. I hope that’s the plan, anyway. I mean, they have to pick a third permanent member, don’t they?”
    To answer your question: No, they do not. Perhaps Koba’s catering to the needs of Su and Moa, who, may not feel the need to share Babymetal with any outsider – that includes all the avengers. Let’s be honest, here: The avengers have not been formally introduced by Amuse or Brand Babymetal. They’re not given mics and not allowed to be present for interviews. Heck, they’re not even allowed to be photographed with the two permanent members. Notice anything strange with this picture: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/ECLJm3lU8AEprod?format=jpg&name=large or this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE0goaxIzOg ?

    “Babymetal is an idol group; metal music is just the thing that sets them apart”
    According to most normal human beings, perhaps. To Amuse and Koba, no. Koba’s done everything he possibly could to keep them apart from idols and j-music. He’s kept them away from TV. They’re not allowed to do collaborations with any idol act, including Sakura Gakuin! Rumours abound about an offer being made for a Kouhaku appearance in 2016 by NHK which was refused by Koba.

    “Babymetal could hardly do better than Riho Sayashi to round out their team. Her dance skills are strong (as you can see in the video above), she has experience performing in front of large audiences as a center, she has name recognition from her time in Morning Musume, and she looks the part. Honestly, she’s perfect for the job.”
    I feel that Kano Fujihira and Momoko Okazaki’s performance skills are as strong as Riho’s, when it comes to dancing, being highly familiar with Mikiko’s particular style of choreography.
    Whilst they may not have the experience of performing in front of large audiences, the same has never deterred the original Babymetal trio and it will not deter the two SG avengers who share the same DNA as Su, Moa and Yui. Don’t forget that Su and Moa were Presidents during their final year in SG, as is Kano Fujihira, this year.
    As for name recognition? Try telling that to Koba, who has done everything he possibly could to keep Babymetal apart from idols and j-music. Do you think for a second that this guy wants Japanese Hello!Project wotas?
    As far as looking the part goes, let’s be honest: no she does not, not when placed side by side with Moa and Su who look trim, fit and toned like international superstars. To be honest, neither do Kano and Momoko.

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