On October 20, NHK’s Director-General Satoshi Masashi held a regular press conference at the station in Shibuya, Tokyo, and mentioned that enka singer Hiroshi Itsuki (73) had stated at his concert on October 17 that he would not participate in the Kohaku Uta Gassen on New Year’s Eve.
According to reports in various sports newspapers, Masashi prefaced his comments by saying, “There is nothing decided at this time about the performers,” before commenting, “I am grateful for their great contribution, having participated in the show 50 times until last year.
When asked about the decreasing number of enka singers participating in the contest, he explained, “We ask for singers who are appropriate for each year, and we don’t think about each genre.
“Recently, Kohaku has been tasked with capturing the viewership of the younger generation. For this reason, we select singers who have recorded hits on music distribution sites and artists who have been buzzing on YouTube. As a result, enka singers, who the younger generation is not interested in, were left out of the selection process,” said a producer at a major record company.
As for this year’s Kohaku, some sports papers have already reported that actor Ikusaburo Yamazaki (35) and pianist and YouTube star Harami-chan (age undisclosed) have been confirmed to participate in Kohaku.
Yamazaki gave a great performance in the TV series “Yale” and sang the song “The Crown Shines on You” by composer Yuji Koseki, who was the model for the main character in the drama, in the special program at last year’s Kohaku. This summer, she sang the song a cappella at Koshien Stadium, and it became a hot topic on the Internet.
She is currently appearing in the role of Hirobumi Ito in the historical drama “Ao Ten wo Tsuke,” and her contribution to NHK has been immense. Harami-chan is expected to make a guest appearance instead of a slot in the Red Team. We hear that she is considering performing with big-name musicians and improvising on songs requested by the audience.
The other candidates for the first time are also interesting. The first name that came to mind was singer/songwriter Yuuri (27), who had a hit with “Dry Flower.
The song, which was released in October last year as a limited distribution service, exceeded 100 million streaming views in its 13th week of release, the fastest ever for a solo male singer.
In March of this year, “Hide and Seek” surpassed 100 million total views. This is the first time in history that two songs have surpassed 100 million views in just eight months since their major label debut in August last year.
“She is one of the most iconic singers of this year, but her three-way relationship with a former idol this spring is a pretty big minus point. The public has already forgotten about it, but it will be interesting to see how NHK evaluates her. Nevertheless, Yuuri is a member of Sony Records, which is the most promising company in Japan right now with artists such as YOASOBI, LiSA, and Creepy Nuts, so we can say that she is almost certain to participate.
One of the candidates is Ado (19), a female singer who has been working without revealing her identity, and who got her big break with her major label debut song “Ussewa,” which was released in October last year.
The music video for the song has surpassed 100 million views in 148 days since its release on YouTube. In January of this year, Ado made her first appearance on TV when her phone interview was aired on TV Asahi’s “Music Station,” and in April, she appeared in an interview on TBS’s “Sunday’s Hatsu-mimi-gaku” without showing her face.
The mixed-gender four-piece band Green Yellow Society is also a strong contender. In April of last year, they started downloading and streaming their first full-length album “SINGALONG” from a major label. As of April this year, the song “Mela!” has been played more than 100 million times on streaming, YouTube, SNS, and other related content. In addition, “LITMUS” was used as the theme song for the TV drama “Emergency Investigation Room,” and the band has become so popular that they have won tie-ups at every turn.
“The only concern with Ado is that they are not allowed to show their faces. However, there is already a precedent with the male band “GReeeeN” in Kohaku. Also, Yuuri, Ado, and Green and Yellow have all made some contribution to NHK, but that may no longer be a major factor in the selection process. How to increase the number of young viewers will be more important.
It has been announced that this year’s Kohaku will be held with an audience for the first time in two years, but we are still waiting for the announcement of the contestants.