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New Year's Eve Music

The New Years holiday is big in Japan. And while viewership has declined due to online streaming, the 紅白歌合戦 はくうたがっせん) is still the biggest TV music event of the year. The performers represent the best of the best for that year.

What Is It?

The 紅白歌合戦(こうはくうたがっせん), literally translating to "Red and White Song Battle," is a highly popular and iconic annual music show in Japan. Broadcast on New Year's Eve by NHK, the country's public broadcasting organization, the program marks the end of the year with a festive and competitive spirit. The show features a range of performances by popular musicians, idol groups, and ensembles, who are divided into two teams based on gender: the red team (紅組(あかぐみ)) representing women, and the white team (白組(しろぐみ)) representing men.

Each team performs various songs, ranging from traditional and enka to modern J-pop, rock, and beyond, showcasing the year's hits and sometimes special collaborations. The performances are interlaced with skits and entertainment segments. At the end of the show, a panel of judges along with audience votes determine the winning team. However, the competition aspect is often seen as secondary to the celebration and performances themselves. Kouhaku Uta Gassen is more than just a music show; it's a cultural institution, reflecting Japan's musical trends and the nation's mood as it transitions into the new year. It holds a sentimental place in many Japanese people's hearts as they watch it with family and friends, making it an integral part of New Year's Eve celebrations in Japan.

As a student of Japanese, getting to know Japanese popular culture will not only make learning Japanese more fun, it will also give you more interesting topics to discuss with your Japanese friends. If you are new to Japanese music, I would suggest spending a few minutes to listen to a short clip of each of the songs. Then pick one or two artists to get to know better.

Here are the playlists for the songs that will be played on the 74th annual 紅白歌合戦(こうはくうたがっせん) New Year's Eve on Apple Music and Spotify.


Now, here are links to YouTube videos of the songs each artist will perform and (when available) a link to more information on the artist in our Makoto+ Names Course. (More content coming soon!)

Anime singer holding a mic

紅組(あかぐみ)

First, let's look at the red team (the girls). The first column is the artist, the second is the song title, and the third has the links. The YouTube links will take you to the song (if available). The links on the names are to our Names Course detail pages (free for Shogun and Lifetime members).

あいみょん

(あい)(はな)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuyQQUqD64c

More on Names Course

(あたら)しい学校(がっこう)のリーダーズ

オトナブルー

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l446hUqQ7GY

More on Names Course

Ado

(うた)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgXpM4l_MwI

More on Names Course

ano

ちゅ、多様性(たようせい)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lec--FlSJ4

More on Names Course

石川(いしかわ)さゆり

津軽海峡(つがるかいきょう)冬景色(ふゆげしき)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Leiebo4V2cE

伊藤蘭(いとうらん)

キャンディーズ50周年(しゅうねん) 紅白(こうはく)SPメドレー

https://www.youtube.com/@CANDIES_OffcialChannel

坂本冬美(さかもとふゆみ)

夜桜(よざくら)(しち)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3cmggPaQMw

櫻坂(さくらざか)46

Start over!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJRFD1AdaUE

椎名林檎(しいなりんご)

㋚〜さすがに諸行(しょぎょう)無常篇(むじょうへん)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRQX-dpFt_osBpH71ItuuvA

JUJU

時の流れに身をまかせ

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6XufPOPYUXtBKJCFgkPkVA

More on Names Course

Superfly

タマシイレボリューション

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2tedgbqJJs

天童(てんどう)よしみ

道頓堀人情(どうとんぼりにんじょう)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbqUKuPtFBo

NiziU

Make you happy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeyDYcxkPPc

乃木坂(のぎざか)46

おひとりさま天国(てんごく)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Etq_BEjQE10

Perfume

FAKE IT

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fq138eWTdpw

More on Names Course

MISIA

紅白(こうはく)スペシャル2023

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzPBIyFM_VyXgG9At-1Il4Q

More on Names Course

MISAMO

Do not touch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woKq2sD8xho

水森(みずもり)かおり

日向岬(ひなたみさき)紅白(こうはく)ドミノチャレンジSP〜

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_gAIzPDsE4&list=PLX7kJJM9goinGTqzv9JtGbW47mJXD_6gY

More on Names Course

milet × MAN WITH A MISSION

コイコガレ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZUyKVE9dus

More on Names Course

YOASOBI

アイドル

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRtdQ81jPUQ

More on Names Course

緑黄色社会(りょくおうしょくしゃかい)

キャラクター

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulforNn47PM

More on Names Course

LE SSERAFIM

UNFORGIVEN (feat. Nile Rodgers) -Japanese ver.-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMddOrUGwDw&list=PLUnnlhhDy3ebuRkR7N-3ye1kS03kBaWNq


Looking to immerse yourself fully in Japanese culture and entertainment while building close friendships? Gaining a thorough understanding of Japanese names will greatly enhance your experience. If you're a Shogun or Lifetime member, this benefit is available to you at no extra cost! Samurai members are eligible for a substantial discount, or you have the option to purchase it outright.

Start learning names by clicking here.


白組(しろぐみ)

Now, let's look at the white team (the boys). The YouTube links will take you to the song (if available). The links on the names are to our Names Course detail pages (free for Shogun and Lifetime members).

エレファントカシマシ

(おれ)たちの明日(あした)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWHU2-WnZqc

大泉洋(おおいずみよう)

あの(そら)()(とう)のように

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9ORIp95U1Q&list=RDq9ORIp95U1Q&start_radio=1

More on Names Course

Official髭男(ひげおとこ)dism

Chessboard

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qo55wGLXcOQ

キタニタツヤ

(あお)のすみか

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuoVd2QNxJo

(ごう)ひろみ

2(おく)4千万(せんまん)(ひとみ)〜ブレイキンSP〜

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e0WG7Zwn8Q

More on Names Course

さだまさし

秋桜(あきざくら)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diXYx3xZzp4

JO1

NEWSmile

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID6TB4slrCQ

純烈(じゅんれつ)

だってめぐり()えたんだ〜NHKプラスver.〜

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snnlHivCp1E

鈴木雅之(すずきまさゆき)

(くみ)のひと

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWQojR1OsAo&list=PLSjWpcJaiPBSWPkoyAdTtgLjiIzDOTZss

すとぷり

スキスキ星人(せいじん)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmG1Sbb2n0A

Stray Kids

CASE 143 -Japanese ver.-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z-MPuOIBoM

SEVENTEEN

()()ちる(はな)びら (Fallin' Flower)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4iDL3c0T1c

10-FEET

(だい)ゼロ(かん)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsJGbHJyXYc

BE:FIRST

Boom Boom Back

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-IGI9yr4do

福山雅治(ふくやままさはる)

「HELLO~想望(そうぼう)紅白(こうはく)スペシャルメドレー

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYWdqfQNJwE

More on Names Course

藤井(ふじい)フミヤ

TRUE LOVE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aY11imwyvOQ

星野源(ほしのげん)

生命体(せいめいたい)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnQ4HiTdSDY

More on Names Course

MAN WITH A MISSION × milet

(きずな)奇跡(きせき)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZUyKVE9dus

Mrs. GREEN APPLE

ダンスホール

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2rvSf0STBM

三山(みやま)ひろし

どんこ(ざか)(だい)7(かい) けん(だま)世界記録(せかいきろく)への(みち)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYsbdxmxWTY

山内惠介(やまうちけいすけ)

(こい)する街角(まちかど)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wjkKcSD_PY

ゆず

ビューティフル

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nlag805C3bQ




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  • This sounds really fun! And such a big number of artists and songs, I guess the show fills the whole evening then. Do you know if it possible to watch the show from outside Japan? I see there are some related videos on the NHK website: https://www.nhk.or.jp/kouhaku/movie74/.
    Thank you for sharing the YouTube links to all the music videos! That is probably the main content of the show anyway. 🙂

    • TV Japan has it: https://tvjapan.net/en/ But since you have to bundle it with a satellite subscription, it’s very expensive and only available in the US and Canada.

      Another option is to use a VPN (Nord VPN is probably best since they have tons of Japanese servers) and sign up for NHK On Demand: https://www.nhk-ondemand.jp/

      Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way, but if you don’t mind using a VPN, NHK Ondemand has a lot of content and is cheap. It won’t have English subtitles, but most content has Japanese subtitles.

      • Wow, thank you, that looks awesome! I see NHK On Demand also has lots of other cool looking series, such as historical dramas and nature documentaries. I’m familiar with VPNs, so that shouldn’t be a problem. The Japanese is still a little bit intimidating though, but some exposure to native material doesn’t hurt. 🙂

        Also, I saw that NHK released some short videos with highlights of the show on https://www.nhk.or.jp/kouhaku/movie74/, so I watched those. I was surprised to see how big of a show they make, with so many people on stage. Really fun to watch!

        • This year’s show had the lowest viewership in history–however, it was really, really well done. Even the bands/singers I didn’t care too much for did an amazing job.

          If you use a VPN with a Japanese server (ExpressVPN and Nord (especially Nord) have servers in Japan), you can also watch tver.jp which is totally free and you don’t even have to sign up for it. Tver is a collaboration among several TV stations. They show this week’s episodes of dramas, comedies, and variety programs. It doesn’t have NHK content, but I think the Youtube playlist you found is good enough to enjoy kouhaku for free.

          The other thing is, if you have Netflix, use a browser plug in like Language Reactor. There is a lot of Japanese language content even with the US Netflix, but if you use a VPN, you can also access the Japanese Netflix. It might be easier to find a show you are familiar with that will help you at your level.

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