NHK released the lineup Thursday for the 66th edition of its annual “Kohaku Uta Gassen” yearend song contest.
The contest, which airs on the network from 7:15 p.m. until 11:45 p.m. on Dec. 31, is set to include a total of 51 performing acts this year. The program, whose title translates to the “Red and White Song Contest,” features a “red” girls’ team and a “white” boys’ team, which will be headed by actress Haruka Ayase and pop artist Yoshihiko Inohara (of V6) respectively. The main emcees will be actress Tetsuko Kuroyanagi and announcer Yumiko Udo.
Pop stalwarts such as Arashi, Exile and AKB48 are set to appear, and making their “Kohaku” debut will be Superfly, Bump of Chicken and Nogizaka46.
Indie-rock band Gesu no Kiwami Otome is also set to perform on the show for the first time as well. Lead singer Kenta Kawatani, who goes by the name Enon, told the media, “We never thought we could appear on NHK with this kind of name for our band.”
There will also be a special performance by classic rock act X Japan, who is set to release a new album in March.
While “Kohaku Uta Gassen” showcases the year’s most popular music acts, many viewers are more interested in the enka artists. In fact, enka singer Shinichi Mori is slated to take part this year for his 48th time. Meanwhile, Sachiko Kobayashi, a “Kohaku” favorite who is known for her elaborate costumes, will not be taking part in the actual competition. NHK said, however, that she will still perform as part of a special intermission show.
Some surprising names were left off of this year’s “Kohaku” roster. Harajuku queen of kawaii (cute) Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and idol act Momoiro Clover Z will not be performing. Kyary responded to the news via her Twitter account saying she was sad, but will try hard to get back on the guest list next year. The five young women of Momoiro Clover Z announced they were putting on their own yearend event instead.