Wow, I did not see this coming! I never thought I'd see the day where I've come to like a Momoe Yamaguchi (山口百恵) song, and yet here I am sharing "Yume Saki Annainin" with you guys. I don't dislike her, if that's what you're thinking. I just somehow tend overlook Yamaguchi most of the time, which is quite ironic since she had an enormous presence in the 70's Pop idol scene. But it may have been just that, and the fact that the 70's had lot's of good enka, Mood Kayo and kayokyoku that made me not bother to pay attention to her.
As to how I stumbled upon "Yume Saki Annainin", I managed to find an episode of "Music Fair" that aired early this year featuring Takashi Hosokawa (細川たかし), Ayako Fuji (藤あや子), and Kaori Kozai (香西かおり). The first segment had them singing Pop songs, starting out with Hosokawa rockin' out to "Julia no Heartbreak" (ジュリアに傷心) with the ladies (he's just so cool when he sings it!), it was then followed by Fuji's crooning of the forlorn ballad "Love is Over". To wrap things up, Kozai sung "Yume Saki Annainin" with the other two chiming in. It wasn't something I was familiar with, but I took a liking to its summery music quickly. I couldn't make out the name of the song as the title was all Kanji. Luckily, there were two huge clues given in the form of the songwriters' names: Yoko Aki (阿木燿子) and Ryudo Uzaki (宇崎竜童).
When I saw that the husband and wife duo were behind "Yume Saki Annainin", my mind immediately went to Yamaguchi since many of her singles were put together by the couple. But comparing some of Yamaguchi's hits I've heard from medleys to what Kozai had picked, a few question marks popped up in my mind. To me, this tune came across as something more on the line of kayokyoku... y'know, not something Pop idols sing, especially not one whom I've known for singing more aggressive stuff. Checking out Aki's repertoire on her J-Wiki page proved that it's indeed one of the stoic lady's singles, and a successful one to boot, peaking at 1st place on the Oricon weeklies and settling at 21st place by the end of 1977.
Despite the doubts I had, listening to the original finally made me relent. In fact (I still can't believe I'm saying this), I actually prefer it to the enka singers' rendition. Well, so much for the stigma I have about Pop idols. Yamaguchi's deep vocals gave the song a comfortable, laid-back feel to it, and together with the relaxing music that has an edge to it, the image of our protagonist having a whale of a time under the stars with her special one during a date comes to mind. Apparently, Aki's lyrics talk about the her wishing to ride on a gondola with the guy - got the meaning from J-Canuck's earlier article.
Anyway, as I've said somewhere up there, "Yume Saki Annainin" was well received, becoming her 4th number 1 single. And it allowed Yamaguchi to bag the bronze award and the Golden... um... Canary (?... カナリ) award at the 6th Japan Music Festival on the year it was released. The song was covered a number of times, most notably by Akina Nakamori (中森明菜), and of course, Kozai.