Man, the things you can learn when doing a blog...
I was wondering which song to write about tonight when I decided to pull out the 1978 discs from the "Seishun Uta Nenkan"（青春歌年鑑）series, and second from the top on the CD 1 list was Candies'（キャンディーズ） "Hohoemigaeshi". Coming across a Candies' entry on the 1978 disc was a bit surprising since I had been under the impression that Ran, Su and Miki had already hung up their mikes a couple of years earlier, and the title didn't ring any bells. I had actually thought that there was a figurative baton passed between Candies and Pink Lady, but as it turned out, there was quite an overlap between their eras.
Then on listening to the song, I realized that it was something that I have heard a few times at least in the past. It was still the jaunty and perky Candies song, this time by composer Yusuke Hoguchi（穂口雄右）, that I was accustomed to hearing, but as it turned out, it was their 17th and final single from February 1978. And it's from here for the remainder of this paragraph that things get a little shaky in the telling since a number of statements in the source article in J-Wiki have been hit with the "citation required" tag. So, basically, this is not set in stone. Although Candies and their fans strongly consider "Hohoemigaeshi" as the final single, there was an 18th single which was released in November of the same year to supposedly great protest from the trio but the decision was made by higher-ups. And so, "Tsubasa"（つばさ...Wings）was released at the end of 1978.
But if indeed this was true, then I don't blame Candies and their fans one bit for their resentment at the recording company. "Hohoemigaeshi" has all the hallmarks of being the swan song of a trio which grabbed the hearts of fans hard for over half a decade. Lyricist Yoko Aki（阿木燿子）may have set her words to sound like the slightly sad but overall cheerful story of a young couple making their move to a new home, but there was so much crammed into Single No. 17 to not hint but pretty much bludgeon the listener into realizing that this was the end of an era. There are lyrical shoutouts to past Candies' hits such as "Heart no Ace ga Detekonai"（ハートのエースが出てこない）and the even more famous "Haru Ichiban"（春一番）that Aki incorporated as a gift to the fans according to radio personality ANNA on a 2009 bayfm show. And the title means Smiling Back....perhaps as the ladies walk off into kayo kyoku history. I don't think you can get more goodbye than that. The fans had known for several months that Candies would be breaking up but this song must have still stopped hearts.
The other surprise that I received in digging for information for "Hohoemigaeshi" is that for all of their famous past hits, this song was the one that got Candies their first...and last...No.1 on the charts. There probably wasn't a dry eye among Miki, Su and Ran on learning that. This would be the trio's most successful hit with close to a million records sold, and an eventual achievement of No. 5 in the 1978 Oricon annual charts. The song was also a track on their third and final live album, "Candies Final Carnival Plus One" which was released in May 1978. That album would also reach No. 1 and become the 35th-ranked release of the year.