Thursday, December 7, 2017

NTV ベスト・アーティスト 2017: A Review [Part 1 of 2]

As a way of getting back into the habit of writing--and testing how much interest there would be in a Japanese music podcast--I thought I would try to write up the big end of the year music shows. One of the things I really enjoy about following the Japanese music world is that they still have things like giant end of the year special music shows and enough mainstream acts to fill them all.

I’ve been watching these kinds of shows for about six or seven years now and my impressions have changed as I learned more about the industry in general. When I first began paying attention I only knew one or two groups and found the amount of unknown music somewhat overwhelming but as the years have gone on, a steady diet of the weekly live music show Music Station (or Mステ for short) has helped given me a pretty good understanding of who everybody is and where they fit into the music scene. This kind of context is necessary since a not insignificant part of these shows assumes that the audience knows exactly who such-and-such singer having their 35th anniversary is or how idol group A relates to idol group B and so on.

But what I enjoy the most about these end of the year specials is both the sense of celebration and the sense of closure. Nothing puts a bow on a one hit wonder than dragging him or her out for one last rousing performance of the song that had us all hitting repeat in like March.

The first special to air every year is NTV’s Best Artist (ベストアーティスト). Hosted by Arashi’s Sakurai Sho (who is also a regular contributor to NTV’s news program News Zero), as well as familiar tv presenters Hatori Shinichi and Miura Asami,  Best Artist tends to be the most relaxed and unpredictable of the specials. Not only is there a enthusiastic audience brought in but the hosts stand at the far end of a long wing off to one side of the main stage and they remain there during the performances. The camera will sometimes cut to the hosts so the viewers at home can see them dancing along. It helps add a relaxed feeling to the show. It’s an NTV party and we’re all invited!
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