Like a lot of J-Pop loving folks out there, I did catch the 64th edition of the Kohaku Utagassen a few days ago. To be honest, my years of having my breath taken away by the annual NHK spectacular are now long in the past, but my family and I still view it just to see what has been going on in the music industry over the past year. Arashi was there again as the current hosts, and I have to admit that I was waiting to see how much more actress Haruka Ayase was gonna screw up....adorably, mind you.
It was nice to see that the producers were trying their best to have the worlds of J-Pop and enka, of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Saburo Kitajima (who has now supposedly retired...or graduated....from the program) meet congenially throughout the 4 hours plus, and it was a treat to see some of the old popsters such as Seiko Matsuda, Kyoko Koizumi and Hiroko Yakushimaru (mind you, the last two were in character from the NHK morning serial drama, "Ama-chan") show up.
But a couple of new acts stood out to me. One was NMB 48 with their performance of "Kamonegix" (had to look that one up), and then there was the band Sakanaction. There is a Wikipedia article on the group, which debuted back in 2005. It's apparently a band that is hard to categorize in terms of genre, but that's fine with me. When I started hearing their 8th single, "Music", it separated itself from a lot of the other acts that night even with Perfume at the Kohaku, Sakanaction's entry struck me as something that I wouldn't have expected at the New Year's Eve special. The song had this cool laid-back vibe as main vocalist/songwriter Ichiro Yamaguchi（山口一郎） sang in a strong but somewhat ethereal way which evoked an image of traveling through cyberspace. As I recall, Sakanaction received some pretty good applause afterwards....something that is no longer always guaranteed for performances at the Kohaku.
"Music" was actually released almost a year ago in January 2013. It peaked at No. 4 on Oricon and is also included on their self-titled album, "Sakanaction". As for the other band members, they are Motoharu Iwadera（岩寺基晴） on guitar, Ami Kusakari（草刈愛美） on bass, Emi Okazaki （岡崎英美）on keyboards and Keiichi Ejima（江島啓一） on drums.