The New Years’ television special announced the cast for this year’s battle.

As the end of the year fast approaches, people in Japan are already starting to get ready for one of the biggest television events of the year — the New Years television special Kohaku Uta Gassen, or the Kohaku Song Battle. The show, which has aired every year since its debut in 1951, showcases the best of Japanese music as popular artists are invited onto the show to battle it out.

The singers are split into two teams — the Red Team, consisting of female vocalists/groups, and the White Team, made up of male vocalists/male-lead groups. After all artists have performed, studio celebrity judges and the public vote, and a winning team is announced just before the new year begins.

The artists competing are all well-known artists — many of them being artists who have had popular songs over the past year — and for Japanese musicians, getting to perform on the programme is when you know you’ve really made it.

In a year that seemed to lack any overwhelmingly successful pop hits, people have been speculating who will make up the 2021 line-up this year, and the participating artists in both teams were released earlier this week. In total, 43 acts will be participating in the contest this year, which will take place on December 31.

The Red Team

Sayuri Ishikawa
Awesome City Club
Mone Kamishiraishi
Fuyumi Sakamoto
Yoshimi Tendo
Toyko Jihen
Seiko Matsuda
Kaori Mizumori
millennium parade × Belle (Kaho Nakamura)
Hiroko Yakushimaru

▼ YOASOBI released a lot of English versions of their songs this year, like their huge smash hit ‘Monster’.

The White Team

King & Prince
Hiromi Go
Masayuki Suzuki
Snow Man
Kiyoshi Hikawa
Dai Hirai
Masaharu Fukuyama
Gen Hoshino
Tomoyasu Hotei
Mafu Mafu
Hiroshi Miyama
Hiroji Miyamoto
Keisuke Yamauchi

▼ Despite veteran Johnny’s idol group KAT-TUN being active since back in 2001, this year marks their Kohaku debut

As usual, the lineup is a solid mix of artists currently popular with the younger generation, with some enka singers for the older crowd. Some Kohaku regulars are amongst the cast, such as enka singer Sayuri Ishikawa, who has appeared on the show over 40 times.

This year looks to be a pretty solid lineup, so if you’ve got no plans, why not snuggle up under your kotatsu and settle down for an evening of excellent Japanese music? You never know, some special guests might even make an appearance, like the time that KISS performed at Kohaku with Japanese rock legend Yoshiki.

Source: Twitter@nhk_kouhaku via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
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