Even in the years when there were no talents, Mr. Johnny was still doing it”… Looking back on the history of “Johnny’s” and “Kohaku”. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Even in the years when there were no talents, Mr. Johnny was still doing it”… Looking back on the history of “Johnny’s” and “Kohaku”.

Kohaku Uta Gassen: That Day, That Time - Michito Goda, "Dr. Kohaku" Author and President of the Singers' Association of Japan, speaks about the Kohaku Uta Gassen.

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Jun Matsumoto of “Arashi” who was considered a surefire host of the white group

This year, Jun Matsumoto of Arashi” was considered a sure thing to host the white team due to his leading role in the historical drama “What to do with Ieyasu”. Is Arashi back in this spot? How many other Johnny’s will appear? and so on.

However, due to the revelation of the sexual assault scandal involving the late Johnny’s Kitagawa, for the first time in 44 years since 1979, none of the talent from the former Johnny’s office (SMILE-UP.) will appear on the show. However, there is no doubt that the kingdom created by Janie Kitagawa has been a driving force in the Japanese music industry. Let us take a look at the history of “Kohaku” and the former Johnny’s. The Johnny’s office was established in 1962 as “Kohaku” (the “Kohaku” in Japanese).

Johnny’s began operations in 1962 as an affiliate of Watanabe Productions. The first talent was the eponymous Johnny’s. He appeared as a mascot boy in NHK’s “Yume de Aimasho” and “Young Seasons,” in which many of Nabepro’s actors appeared.

He was also a back-up dancer for Yukari Ito’s “Locomotion” at the “Nichigeki Western Carnival” stage. Ito recalls with a laugh, “I was really annoyed that the newspapers gave more prominence to Johnny’s than to me.

The first “Kohaku” of the “old Johnny’s” was also called Johnny’s…. The photo shows the press conference for the dissolution of Johnny’s. From left to right: Hiromi Maie, Ryo Nakatani, Teruhiko Aoi, Osami Iino (PHOTO: Sankei Shimbun)

In December 1964, Johnny’s made its debut as a singer with “Young Tears,” the song of the month from “Yume de Aimasho” (“Let’s Meet in a Dream”), and in 1965, it proudly made it to the “Kohaku” in Japan. The first “Kohaku” performance by Johnny’s dates back 58 years.

The following year, the group went to the U.S. for full-fledged dance lessons, and although the group broke up after that, no one appeared in the Kohaku the following year, the Four Leaves, who had been Johnny’s backing dancers, made their debut.

Two years later, in 1970, they made their first “Kohaku” appearance, winning the number one bromide sales prize. This was the first “Kohaku” appearance by Johnny’s in five years. The song he sang was “Ashita ga aruku” (“Ashita will be born”).

The composer of this song, Tomohiro Kajisawa, was Mitsuo Kaji, who had a hit with “Seishun no Shirokamachi. He later became a world-renowned jewelry designer and is still active today. A few years ago, Kaji and Toshio E gi, one of the members of the Four Leaves, sang this song together at the “Japan Singers Association Song Festival. At that time, Egi said, “In Kohaku, there was only one microphone for the four of us. When we danced during the prelude and interlude, we spread out, and when we started singing, we gathered around the microphone, and those were the days,” he recalled.

From this point on, the Four Leaves participated in Kohaku for seven years. Hiromi Go joined the group in 1973, but in 1975, Hiromi Go moved to Burning Productions. In 1975, Goh moved to Burning Productions. Since then, she has been the face of “Kohaku” and has continued to make a record number of appearances in the show. From this point until the beginning of the 1980s, there was once again a three-year gap between the members of the Johnny’s office and the rest of the cast of Kohaku.

When I spoke with a former producer of “Kohaku” who had already retired, he told me, “Even if the singers from the office no longer appear in “Kohaku,” Mr. Janney would still show up at New Year’s Eve and rehearsals, saying, “I still want to bring up singers who can appear in Kohaku next year. He said, “I want to bring up singers who will participate in the Kohaku next year.

At the time, “Kohaku” was considered a “national event. To send a contestant to the Kohaku was a sign of being a first-rate singer. It was a time when the competition was nothing compared to what it is today.

Toshihiko Tahara, Masahiko Kondo, and Shibukitai

In 1980 (’80), Toshihiko Tahara made his first appearance on NHK’s “Let’s Go Young” with “Aisoshideito”. The following year, in addition to Toshi, he was joined by Match and Masahiko Kondo with “Gingira Gingira Gingira ni Sasashisarete”. The next year, in 1982, Shibukitai appeared with “100%…SO maybe! The next year, in 1982, the group Shibukitai appeared at the NHK Hall with “100%…SO MAMONEE!”, winning the Best Newcomer Award at the “Record Taisho Award”, the program preceding the “Kohaku” for the third consecutive year.

Until then, they had appeared as idols in the first half of the show, but in 1958, Match was the top performer in the second half, and Toshi joined veterans such as Saburo Kitajima and Hiroshi Itsuki to sing in the last corner. After four more years of Shun, Match, and Shibugaki, Shonen-tai made their first appearance in 61 (’86).

Yuzo Kayama’s introduction “Shonen-tai no Kamen Rider! became famous that year. At New Year’s, President Janey turned to Shonen-tai and said in a good mood, “You guys, now all Japanese remember us.

The first appearance of SMAP, which had just debuted, was in 1991. Masahiro Nakai hosted the show for five years from Heisei 9 (’97) (PHOTO: Shinji Hasuo)

Shonen-tai, Hikaru Genji, Otoko Togumi… The Golden Age Begins

In fact, when the members were announced that year, Shonen-tai’s senior members of the same type, Shibugi, were not selected because they were going to be in the group. Although there was no rule that stipulated “how many members from the same office could participate,” two days before New Year’s Eve, it was discovered that Saburo Kitajima and Joji Yamamoto, who were scheduled to participate, had attended a gang’s New Year’s party the previous year and had to withdraw from the show. Sibugitai was called in from Hawaii, where they had been on leave, to sing in costumes for the New Year’s concert, resulting in an unprecedented appearance by four groups.

The following year, however, not only Shibuki, who had saved the day, but also Toshihiko Tahara, who had participated seven times, were eliminated because of “low support among idol groups. In 1988, however, Toshichan starred in the drama “Teacher Binbin Monogatari,” and the theme song “Dakishimete Tonight” became a big hit, so he was chosen to make a comeback. However, she withdrew from the contest one week after the announcement, perhaps due to a lingering grudge from the previous year.

This year also marked the first appearance of new idols Hikaru Genji. They performed a medley of four songs, including “Glass Jyudai” and “Paradise Galaxy,” while skating on roller skates as the top batter, another unusual measure. Shonen-tai, making their third appearance, took second place in the white group. The third performer was Otoko Togumi, a junior member of the office, who was chosen to replace Tahara. The fourth place went to Match and four other Johnny’s members.

The following year, however, Match and his rumored girlfriend, Akina Nakamori, were eliminated, reportedly due to Akina’s attempted suicide in Match’s room in July. However, they held a press conference together during the backstage of “Kohaku” and said, “We have nothing to do with each other,” putting an end to their love affair. It would be eight years later when Match would next appear in “Kohaku,” and 14 years after that for Akina.

SMAP appeared on the stage… “Kohaku” with Arashi

The Heisei Era had come and gone, and in 1990, Ninja, and in 1991, SMAP, who had just made their debut, finally appeared on the stage. In 1997, when Masahiro Nakai hosted the show for the first time, it was his seventh appearance.

In his second year as host, he came in third from the back with “Yozora Nomukou” (Night Sky Nomukou) against Yoshimi Tendo in the 49th contest. In 2003, he performed “One and Only One Flower in the World” as the last performer. This was the first time that a group singer performed at the last round. This was the day he became the undisputed top singer in the Japanese music world.

Since 1994, there had been basically only two groups, SMAP and TOKIO, participating in the festival due to a conflict with Johnny’s annual countdown live performance, but the composition changed and Johnny’s presence increased dramatically in 2009 when Nakai became the host for the fifth time. However, the composition of the show changed and the presence of the Johnny’s grew dramatically from 2009, when Nakai’s hosting duties had already taken hold for the fifth time. Arashi, in their 10th year, made their first appearance, and the NYC boys joined them for a total of four groups. From this point on, “Kohaku” started with Arashi until their hiatus.

Since the 61st Kohaku (’10), his second appearance, Arashi has hosted the white team for five years in a row. In 2014, the year of the first Kohaku, the first time the audience was treated to a medley of “Kangetsu Kangeki Ame Arashi” and “GUTS!”, the group had already included Kanjani 8 for the third time ,Sexy Zone for the second time, and V6 for the first time. This was the largest number in the history of the festival at that time.

The following year, in 2003, V6 member Inohara Yoshihiko was selected as the host of NHK’s popular program “Asaichi,” based on his performance as the main anchor, and Kondo Masahiko made a comeback as the third host. From the following year, ’16, the members of Arashi were to host the show one by one. Last year, Sho Sakurai was the overall host. From this lineup, Matsumoto Jun, who had never hosted the white team alone, was considered a strong candidate to host this year’s event.

From ’16, the members of Arashi will host one by one (PHOTO: Shinji Hasuo).

And “Kohaku,” which is all about Johnny’s

JUMP in ’17, King & Prince in ’18, and Kis-My-Ft2 in ’19. In ’20, when Arashi was suspended, the number of entries was the largest among Johnny’s siblings, with seven groups, including SixTONES andSnow Man (who withdrew that year due to a corona infection), who were scheduled to participate for the first time.

Last year, in addition to these groups, Naniwa Otoko made their first appearance, and Kinki-kids also returned to the stage, making the “Kohaku” show a Johnny’s-only affair for the past several years. Not only “Kohaku,” but they have been at the center of all media.

In any case, this year is a year of purification. Whether or not they participate in the festival, something will be said either way. I feel that not having all the members participate in this year’s festival would be more graceful and pleasant.

There was a five-year gap between Johnny’s and Forleaves. I would like to see the boys of SMILE-UP. in “Kohaku” again next year after taking a year off. Either way, it will be a new step forward for “Kohaku.

  • Text by Michito Goda

    Michito Goda made his debut as a singer-songwriter with Watanabe Productions in 1979 while still in high school. Since then, in addition to composing and directing music programs, hosting TV shows, and supervising and commentating on CDs, he has also written for newspapers and magazines, composed poetry, and served as a radio DJ, demonstrating his versatility in a variety of fields. His books include "The Mystery of Doyo," "The Mystery of the Shrine," "The Mystery of Showa Songs" (Shodensha), and "The Truth of the Monster Program Kohaku Uta Gassen" (Gentosha), and his current book "The Mystery of the Doyo Who Sang Seasonal Poems" (Kasama Shoin) is a hit. The program of the Japan Singers Association, of which he is the president, "New Year 12 Hour Song Festival" will be broadcast on BS TV TOKYO on January 2, from 12:00 to 24:00 noon.

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