The Kohaku Uta Gassen is a Japanese New Year’s Eve tradition, where a “red” team of musical artists compete against a “white” team of…uh…other musical artists. It is a relatively big deal, as my teachers and students are already talking about it. I’ve never seen it, as so far I have spent every New Year’s back home in America stuffing my face full of burritos and preparing for my university’s annual college football bowl loss (Go ‘Cats!). But people watch this thing, and getting invited to sing on it shows that you’ve had a big year and/or you are a very respected Japanese pop star.
The line-ups for this year’s incarnation have been revealed, and feature some nice surprises. The K-Pop invasion of 2011 gets a victory lap at Kohaku Uta Gassen this year, as KARA and Girls’ Generation appear. Joining them will be domestic folks like Perfume, Shiina Ringo, Ayumi Hamasaki and Koda Kumi. And obviously AKB48, who stand tallest of all (they can stand on one another’s shoulders). Also popping up – super young kid Ashida Mana! She’s cute in a way that covers up all the annoying music. For the other gender – oh man, a lot of bad acts. A cavalcade of Johnny’s doofs (NYC, TOKIO, SMAP…Arashi end up being the best of the lot eeeeep), EXILE, some “rock” and OH BOY Funky Monkey Babys. Guess you need to provide time for people to warm up the mozzarella sticks.