It's gonna be a soggy New Year's Eve going into 2019 unfortunately but compared to the deep freeze last year that curtailed a lot of the celebrations, I think people won't mind too much this year. Just bring the umbrellas.
This will probably be my final article for "Kayo Kyoku Plus" for 2018 since in a little more than an hour from now, the re-broadcast of the Kohaku Utagassen will be starting up. NHK has rather made December 31st a half-day of Red-and-White festivities comparable to all of the lead-up on Super Bowl Sunday. Along with the shortened 15-minute 7 pm broadcast of news just before the start of the special, there are the warm-up programs on the network on the 30th and 31st to get viewers into the mood.
Of course, No. 69 also being the very last Kohaku Utagassen of the Heisei Era, things have taken on an especially auspicious tone, and the Japanese do love to look back on everything. For the episode on the 30th, there was a long retrospective on each of the Kohaku starting from 1989 to 2017 featuring the big names that appeared in each special.
One such act was rock band L'Arc-en-Ciel which had its debut appearance on the Kohaku 20 years ago with their hit "HONEY" (yes, indeed, time flies by). This was the band's 10th single released in July 1998, and even though I'm not a huge rock fan, listening to hyde and company and their fast jangling guitars once more brought a good measure of nostalgia back.
One reason for the natsukashii feeling was that I used to hear "HONEY" all the time on the music ranking shows. The song was written and composed by hyde, and it hit No. 1 on Oricon and became the 7th-ranked single for 1998, as it broke the million-seller barrier and went Platinum, selling around 1.2 million copies. "HONEY" was also included in L'Arc-en-Ciel's 7th album "ray", released in July 1999. That album reached No. 2 on the charts and also became No. 7 in the yearly rankings.
According to the J-Wiki article on the song (the original source was the liner notes from the 15th anniversary Expanded Edition for "ray"), it was one of the more atypical entries since L'Arc-en-Ciel was apparently known for quite a bit of production on their tracks, but in the case of "HONEY", the recording was kept to basically the trio of guitar, bass and drums. In fact, the recording was wrapped up so quickly during the time that had been scheduled for just pre-production that the producer and even the band members apparently don't have any memory of the recording session at all. Maybe simple is indeed best.