Kohaku Uta Gassen, more commonly known as simply Kohaku, is an annual music show on New Year's Eve produced by Japanese public broadcaster NHK and broadcast on television and radio, nationally and internationally by NHK's networks and some overseas (mainly cable) broadcasters which bought the program. The show ends shortly before midnight.
Literally "Red and White Song Battle," the program divides the most popular music artists of the year into competing teams of red and white. The "red" team or akagumi is composed of all female artists (or groups with female vocals), while the "white" team or shirogumi is all male (or groups with male vocals). The honor of performing on Kohaku is strictly by invitation, so only the most successful singing acts in the Japanese entertainment industry can perform. In addition to the actual music performances, the costumes, hair-styles, makeup, dancing, and lighting are important. Even today, a performance on K¨haku is said to be a big highlight in a singer's career because of the show's large reach.
The songs and performers are examined by a selection committee put together by NHK. The basis for selection are record sales and adaptability to the edition's theme.
At the same time, a demographic survey is conducted regarding the most popular singers for each and what kind of music people want to hear. This and the song selection explain the amalgamation of the musical genres and its artists.
There are, however, exceptions to the process. Yamaguchi Momoe chose to sing her favorite song "Hito Natsu no Keiken" with its suggestive lyrics during the 25th edition, despite NHK's pick of a different song.
When the show was first broadcast on radio in 1951, each team had a few performers, all of whom would perform within an hour. Since 1989, the program goes on for at least four hours as both teams, each having at least 25 performers, perform their songs.
At the end of the show, the audience and a panel of judges¡ªnotable celebrities who may or may not have a connection to the music industry¡ªvote to select the winning team. In the past, the audience vote has been composed of a head count of the venue audience members, who can vote for either team (NHK Hall, which has been the venue for most Kohaku editions since 1971, can seat 3,000 people). This counted as one vote.
As of the 54th (2003) and 55th editions (2004), viewers who watch the program through ISDB-S on NHK BS Hi-vision could vote by having their own head count in their respective households. Although it is still sketchy to determine in the 55th, the audience vote is counted as two votes: one for the venue audience and one for ISDB-S viewers.
The audience vote(s) are added to those of the judges who each have to vote for one team. The team with the most votes wins.
The above process was done differently for the 56th edition (2005). Instead, the NHK Hall head count, the vote count from cellphone users and the vote count from ISDB-S viewers each counted as one vote. As stated above, the team that got at least two votes won.
In the 57th edition (2006), aside from cellphone and ISDB-S viewers and the NHK Hall audience, 1seg users voted. Its format had been reverted to the ball voting system¡ªfrom the audience head count and the judges' votes.
From the 58th edition (2007) onwards, the winner was determined through an overall head count, all from cellphone, ISDB-S viewers, 1seg users, and the NHK Hall Audience (including guests).
Aside from the performances, there are special performances where certain performers do their act together, and the so-called "Ring Show" where performers from both teams take part in a "singing exercise."