紅白—red and white

We’re watching the New Year’s Eve TV show called 紅白歌合戦 kouhaku uta gassen—the red and white song contest. This is the 66th annual contest. It’s a variety show featuring all kinds of music from this year’s J-pop hits to enka ballads to hard rock.

IMG_0342
X-Japan “Born to be Free”

Many of the participants appear year after year; it’s Arashi’s 7th time to perform and some stalwarts have been on the show for 30 or even 40 years.

It's Perfume's 8th time to appear on Kouhaku
It’s Perfume’s 8th time to appear on Kouhaku

The show is structured as a competition between the akagumi “red” team (female performers) and the shirogumi “white” team (male), red and white taking turns to perform, with the result decided by popular vote. The staging and light shows are reminiscent of the Eurovision. I would have liked to see cross-dressing death-metal wrestler Ladybeard included, but inexplicably there is no sign of him in this year’s line-up!

Most of the performances are on stage in a concert hall in Tokyo, but one song was an outside broadcast from Nagasaki.

Misia performing at the Peace Park in Nagasaki
Misia performing “Tears of the Orphans” from the Peace Park in Nagasaki

You’ll see from the screenshots that the lyrics are shown in subtitle for all of the songs. This is very helpful for a struggling Japanese learner like me!

The most prestigious spot is the last to perform and is called 大とり ootori. This year the ootori slot is awarded to “eternal idol” Seiko Matsuda.

SMAP were ootori in 2010; this year they are 5th from the end
SMAP were ootori in 2010; this year they are 5th from the end

Then the show finishes Japanese-style with an ensemble finale performance of Hotaru no hikari (“Auld Lang Syne”).

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蛍の光

Update: This year the red team (the girls) won by a tiny margin: 356,000 votes to 346,000.

Happy New Year everybody! 明けましておめでとう!

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5 thoughts on “紅白—red and white

  1. I guess watching the Japanese song contest makes a welcome change from the usual home fare —
    celebrities talking out the old year before counting in the New Year.

  2. Though I’m not familiar with most of the artists you’ve mentioned, I guess I’m proud that I could recognize Sekai no Owari from the last picture. LOL.
    This must have have been a great practice session for you.

    And thanks for the follow!

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