The final day of 2012 features state television broadcaster NHK's 63rd Kohaku (“Red/White”) Uta Gassen ("sing-off") between the sexes, women on the red team, and men on the white.
Appearing on Kohaku is the most public sign of entertainment success in Japan, and most of those appearing in any one year have appeared several, or numerous, times before.
First appearances among the Ko (Red) women's team are SKE48, one of the six “48” girl bands, this one based in Nagoya; Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (officially “Caroline Charonplop Kyary Pamyu Pamyu”) representing everything chic, off-beat and Harajuku; Princess Princess, the 1980s/90s girl pop/rockers back together after a 16-year break; Momoiro Clover Z, comedy bubble-gum popettes; YUI, the multitalented singer-songwriter; and Yuki (surname, Isoya), the 40-year-old ex-Judy-and-Mary lead singer who went solo in 2002. At the other end of the scale is hoarse-voiced super Kohaku veteran, the Japanese-Korean “Empress” (or “Jotei”) from Osaka, Wada Akiko, who is making her 36th appearance.
The Haku (White), men’s team has the Kohaku veteran of veterans, Kitajima Saburo, the born-a-poor-boy enka singer-songwriter from Hokkaido who is easily Japan’s most famous singer. At the other end, the men’s first-timers are Kanjani Eight, another of those genki-genki-genki boy bands with bad hair, managed by the crappop kingmakers Johnny & Associates; Golden Bomber (AKA “Kinbaku”), air rockers (yes, you read it right: only one of them sings, the other three lipsync) who nevertheless have 12 singles and 9 albums to their name; Saito Kazuyoshi, the talented, streety singer-songwriter of J-pop who made his debut in 1993; Sandaime J Soul Brothers, seven packets of six-pack who sing, pout, and dance 1980s metrosexual cheese; Naoto Inti Raymi, a smiley 33-year-old star who worked his way from the streets as a busker with a fierce pearly white pair of canines and a repertoire of happy, lovey-dovey pop; and finally perhaps the most interesting “newcomer,” the 77-year old Miwa Akihiro, a singer-songwriter-theater director-author (20 books) and openly gay drag queen who reads public figures, first made it big way back in 1957 with his profanity-laced hit song Meke-Meke, and whom mainstream Japan only just now sees fit to honor now that he’s grown gray locks.
The Sixty-Third Kohaku Uta Gassen will be broadcast on NHK between 7:15pm and 11:45pm on December 31 2012.
Below is a list of the team members.
RED (“Ko”) team - women
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
Momoiro Clover Z
WHITE (“Haku”) - men
Sandaime J Soul Brothers
Naoto Inti Raymi
Funky Monkey Babys
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Thursday, December 13, 2012
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