Photo: Pakutaso

Lineup for end-of-year Kohaku song contest 2021 revealed

By Katie Pask, SoraNews24

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 Red and White Song Contest. 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 program 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 Dec 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 among 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

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Was there no “Song of 2021” in Japan?

-- New take on traditional Japanese “osechi” is a sweet way to ring in the new year

-- Japanese hip hop group Rishiri Boys boasts local pride, mad skills, and an average age of 82

© SoraNews24

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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My wife, who is a local thinks that the NHK end of year musical is a dirge, not watched by the young, only by a few old fxxts.

Surely NHK could think of something more appropriate and entertaining for the year end to suit all tastes!

3 ( +8 / -5 )


3 ( +9 / -6 )


2 ( +6 / -4 )

Absolute waste of time.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Not one decent artist. Deary me.

There are loads of great singers and bands here. Get them on the bill!

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Kohaku is terrible. It's all manufactured music to start with, but it's then placed in an NHK straightjacket of overdressed and overpolite people, like the Music Station straightjacket but with twice as many buckles, saying how wonderfully exciting it is in the most unconvincing way possible. I saw bits of it last year and it was actually a relief when Keisuke from the Southern All Stars came on and started jumping around. His music is as middle of the road as it comes, but at least he has some enthusiasm.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )



Absolute waste of time

Kohaku is terrible

Mods, all these comments are ok, but my zzzzz comment was deemed ‘rude & offensive’ !?

6 ( +10 / -4 )

From the lineup, I can see it's business as usual at NHK.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Cool. Can't wait.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

All you need to know about the state of music in Japan. And they wonder why none of them become popular in Western countries.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Christ, I'd rather watch Eurovision, and that's saying a lot.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Full of oo46 and Johnny's. Yawn

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Tokyo Jihen is alright and...that's about it.

Never particularly enjoyed any of the Japanese new years stuff. Whether it is Kohaku or watching the same comedians getting smacked with rubber bats, it always seems like the pinnacle of bad variety programming in a country full of bad variety programming.

I'd sooner watch MAMA or just the massive amount of streamed programming available these days.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Oh dear. Looks like Commander Bond will be on duty again in my neck of the woods.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I'd rather pluck my eyebrows one by one all night than watch this banal drivel.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

How can people watch this dross? It is only for those who have no understanding of what decent music is, regardless of genre.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Give me Babymetal, Band-Maid, Lovebites, Nemophila, Asterism, and Ningen-Isu, then I may consider watching.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The thing that baffles me most is that sitting joylessly in front of this all night is considered "celebrating" New Year.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This year looks to be a pretty solid lineup, so if you’ve got no plans

No thank you. I will get a different plan. Nothing solid in this lineup completely decided by the industry and potential commercial benefits. Years by years, it shows how poorless is getting the main commercial music here.

There are many more solid artists, but unfortunately not in the front line.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This Kohaku is not a competition at all. No drama, no suspense, no reason for watching.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They don't even let them finish the song. Like, what does it matter? Half a song is as good as a full song.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Probably the most boring event on television at the time.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Looking forward to it!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I admit having watched it for a couple of years now, or at least tried to as most internet streams get axed as soon as NHK learns about them. I do like some of the performers but the glory of the late 70's/early 80's is definitely gone.

No way I would pay NHK just to watch it overseas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kohakuebisuNov. 22  10:30 am JST

Kohaku is terrible. It's all manufactured music to start with, .............

Are you saying that real talent like Aimyon produces "manufactured music"?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Harry Gatto

majority of the artists here are self made without any support from the so called talent agencies. the above comments are BS. only a few are johnny's or 46 groups.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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