The 59th edition of NHK's New Year's Eve show, the Red and White Singing Contest, an industry-leading program, bounced back after two years of slipping ratings.

It scored a 42.1% audience share rating in the Kanto (Tokyo) area for the second half of the four-hour and 25-minute show, and a 35.5% rating for the first half of the program.

This returns the extravaganza to the heady days of 2005 when it was able to pull in 42.9% of the viewers for the second half. The results for the 59th edition represent an increase from 39.5% for the second half of the previous year's broadcast, and an increase from 32.6% for the first half of the 2007 broadcast.

The 59th edition focused more on pop instead of traditional Japanese ballads and saw performances from almost all the 2008 chart toppers in Japan, including Exile (live from the Sapporo Dome), Thelma Aoyama (Featuring Soulja), Kubokuro, and a host of other Japanese acts.

Nine year-old Nozomi Ohashi became the youngest performer ever on the program when she sang her popular theme song "Ponyo On The Cliff" (Yamaha Music Communications) from Hayao Miyazaki's animated film "Ponyo On The Cliff By The Sea."

In addition, Enya performed live from Ireland to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her track "Orinoco Flow," and one of the mega-stars of J-pop, Ayumi Hamasaki, managed to open the show despite falling and requiring surgery on her wrist four days earlier.