Near the end of 2015, I decided to get really imaginative (the Chateau de Thunderbird helped!) and come up with my own list of a Fantasy Kohaku Utagassen in tribute to the upcoming NHK New Year's Eve special for both the Red (women's) and White (men's) teams. Well, 4 years later, I've once again opted to go for a second collection for a reason that I will explain in the next article for the White team. But for now, let me provide my Fantasy Red team list.
Compared to the lists that I provided back in 2015, these lists will be shorter since frankly I didn't want to exhaust my remaining brain cell any more than necessary. However, the same rules will basically apply:
1) I will pick anyone who is still with us or has left this mortal coil already.
2) The choices will be singers who have not ever appeared on the program.
3) Alternately, if the singers have appeared on the program, then I will go with songs that they have never performed on the Kohaku.
Without further ado then, and some tongue firmly planted in cheek, here is my list for the RED team.
1. Takako Mamiya -- Love Trip
As the saying goes, a person can dream, right? When kayo fans somehow fantasize about a miraculous return of Momoe Yamaguchi（山口百恵）onto the NHK stage after four decades (which is why I included her on the first list), then I can fantasize about having the Greta Garbo of City Pop appear in front of a cool backdrop of downtown skyscrapers and star-filled skies to sing the title track from her one-and-only 1982 album.
2. Junko Yagami -- Mizuiro no Ame
Unlike Ms. Mamiya, Yagami（八神純子）has appeared once on the Kohaku to sing "Purpletown" but even more than her now-globally famous Bay City tune, I would love to have her perform "Mizuiro no Ame", the original snazzy version from 1978. It's the first song that I had ever heard by her and this particular amazing tune provided me with one of the first examples of proof that kayo was not restricted to enka and aidoru tunes alone. Admittedly, though, there are so many choices of song that I would have loved to have her perform on the show.
3. Bird -- Life
Now officially, it's Mondo Grosso with "Life" featuring Bird. However, if MG and Bird can agree to swap billing just for this appearance, then I would be awfully grateful. As it is, I am also grateful for this wonderful song which has always had me doing a samba in my seat...which would also explain the several typos that I've had to correct typing this paragraph. Once again, I'm letting my mind come up with the setting on the Shibuya stage: a dedicated band for Bird with a lot of Carnaval dancers and even audience participation.
4. Keiko Fuji -- Shinjuku no Onna
The late Keiko Fuji（藤圭子）appeared on the Kohaku a total of 5 times between 1970 and 1976. However, she never performed one of her trademark tunes, "Shinjuku no Onna", during any of those appearances. It would bring back the feeling of the older Kohaku and also the sensations of pub crawling in East Shinjuku. There probably wouldn't be any need for a fancy backdrop setting for Fuji: just set the lighting low, focus the spotlight on her, and have her step down the grand staircase onto the stage.
5. Yukiko Okada -- Dreaming Girl
80s aidoru Yukiko Okada（岡田有希子）never got her invitation to come to the Kohaku but I'm sure that had she lived, she would have gotten her chance. If she had, I would have loved to have seen her perform one of my favourite songs by her, "Dreaming Girl". It's so breezy and cheerful. Her suicide affected all of her fans and it even became one part of the interview with Mariya Takeuchi（竹内まりや）, who had written a few of her songs, during a recent NHK documentary.
6. Pizzicato Five -- Tokyo wa Yoru no Shichi-ji
It's a pity that I could only find one video that featured this song and original performer Maki Nomiya（野宮真貴）. Not paying too much attention to the Kohaku Utagassen in the 1990s, I never knew whether Shibuya-kei had gotten its due in the hall where the special is held, despite the fact that it was literally in the same neighbourhood after which this eclectic genre was named. As far as I know, Pizzicato Five has yet to make its inaugural appearance but then again, perhaps in its heyday, the group probably felt themselves too cool and different to show up on stage. But wouldn't it have been quite the thing for Nomiya and Yasuharu Konishi（小西康陽）to perform "Tokyo wa Yoru no Shichi-ji" on New Year's Eve before the year of the next Tokyo Olympics?
7. Lindberg -- Ima Sugu Kiss Me
The band Lindberg actually made one appearance on the Kohaku in 1992 but it wasn't to perform this song, which could arguably be their most famous contribution, "Ima Sugu Kiss Me". If vocalist Maki Watase（渡瀬マキ）and the rest of Lindberg ever came back onto the Shibuya stage to perform this one, the nostalgia quotient would just leap over buildings in a single bound. There would even probably be several middle-aged folks in the audience pumping fists into the air.
Now, on to the WHITE team...
In the meantime, if there are any collaborators and/or commenters who may want to put up their own fantasy teams, they have my blessing.