When the news came out that Uika and Nozomi from BiS were going to form a new group, I honestly wasn’t sure what my expectations were. They were a pretty unlikely pair so I had a hard time imagining what kind of concept they’d be going with for this new project.
Of course when I heard the group was going to be called “Bille Idle” I immediately got the reference to 80s rock star Billy Idol. I like a good play on words as much as the next guy, but that didn’t really clue me into what direction the group would be heading in. I don’t know, maybe they’d be doing glam rock inspired idol songs or something. That’s about all I had at that point.
My memory is pretty hazy if I’m honest but I’m pretty sure around this time they announced the other two members who would be in the group, Yasui Yuuhi and Momose Momo. They were both pretty plain looking girls and I guess they still kinda are to this day, but that’s besides the point. The main thing is, Billie Idle didn’t really make that strong of a first impression on me.
So we kick the can a little bit further along the timeline here and the group releases their first song which is titled “Anarchy in the Music Scene”. A fairly provocative title I’m sure you’d agree, and the song was certainly…different, but also familiar somehow. I can’t quite place it, but I’m sure I’ve heard something in a similar vein before. I really liked it anyway.
With the release of “Anarchy in the Music Scene”, the concept of the group began to take a more defined shape. They were being promoted as a “counter-culture” group, something that at the time (less than 12 months ago) was still a fairly fresh concept as far as idol groups go. Oh what a difference a year can make, but that’s a topic for another day.
For the uninitiated, counter-culture is basically a movement whose ideals and behavior differ significantly to those of the mainstream. I guess in a way it’s almost like hipsters decided to re-brand themselves and this was the result. I can’t say it’s a brand of Kool-Aid that I myself personally drink, but I can see the appeal of it to a certain subsect of society.
With the group’s identity beginning to take shape, along came another new song in the form of “Be My Boy” and also a debut album titled “Idle Gossip” in April. Yet another amusing play on words that got a chuckle from me, and up to this point I’d been pretty excited to hear more of what this interesting new group had to offer. Unfortunately, that hype train would suffer a not so insignificant derailment at this juncture.
I’m not saying that “Idle Gossip” is a bad album, but I think most people would agree with me when I say that Billie Idle led off with their strongest material. Sure there’s some bright spots with songs like “Konin Todoke wa Tomaranai” and “Po Pe Pa”, but nothing on the album really comes close to the two aforementioned songs for me. It wasn’t the biggest letdown I’ve ever experienced in this fandom, but I really was hoping for a bit more than what I ended up getting.
Things went a bit quiet for a few months as the group focused their efforts on building their fanbase (they even have a fanclub you can pay some skrilla to join) and performing a number of live shows. Then at the end of August, it was announced that they would be releasing another album. Two albums full of new songs in the space of a couple of months? Totally unheard of in the idol world.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Idle” ended up being the witty title for this release and at this point I’m wondering just how many more “Idle” related puns they have left in the tank. As for the album itself, it was billed as a retro (god I feel old) 80s pop inspired offering and that’s definitely what we got. It had a number of enjoyable songs, “Be-Bop Tu-Tu” and “Loco☆Moco” just to name a couple, and I found myself enjoying it a lot more than their debut album.
Overall, Billie Idle are a bit of a mixed bag for me. There’s some of their songs that just completely miss the mark with me, but then again there are some that really hit the mark. That’s the best and worst thing about music and art in general, not everything is going to suit the tastes of every single person.
One thing I do worry about though is the shelf life of this whole retro aesthetic thing. We kinda saw it play out with idol groups who performed rock-oriented songs. It was hot for a decent while there but then it got over-saturated and the quality suffered for it. I can see the same thing happening with this retro revival over the course of 2016.
Speaking of 2016, I’m not really sure where I want Billie Idle to go next. I’m pretty sure another album won’t be happening for a while now, so I kinda want to see what a regular old Billie Idle single would be like when not under the constraints of what have essentially been concept albums up to this point.