“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes

Few would argue that Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” is not an American classic.  However, like many other timeless tracks, fans may be familiar with its catchy chorus but not the storyline it is actually relaying. In fact if anything, on the surface this song reads as if it is promoting piña coladas, an exotic cocktail drink associated with the tropics (and the sale of piña coladas in the United States skyrocketed as a result). However, in reality this is an unorthodox love song with a strange twist.

The track begins with the singer in a romance with a lady whom he is “tired” off. He has been with her for “too long”, and their relationship is wearing him out. So, even while she lies next to him sleeping, he consults “the personal columns” of a newspaper he’s reading. That is to say that he is shopping for a new partner. And while perusing the ads, he comes across one where a lady is looking for a male who, amongst other things, “like(s) piña coladas”, thus the subtitle of this song.

So after concluding that he fits what this particular advertiser is looking for, he decides to respond. And indeed he is quite anxious to meet this lady, again not as any disrespect to the one he already has but rather due to a strong level of romantic boredom.

So finally in the third verse, he meets up with this lady. And the surprise twist is that it is the selfsame girlfriend whom he has grown bored of in the first place. They both get a hearty laugh out of the irony of the situation, and together they “escape”, which brings us to the proper title of the song. It is expression that concludes all of the choruses, as “escape” is what both the singer and the lady (who again turned out to be his girlfriend) were looking for all along via their personal ads. In other words they both wanted relief from the dullness they had been suffering from via their romance. And apparently, in a somewhat-unexpected way, they achieved this goal.


Facts about “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”

  • Holmes admitted that he had never actually had a piña colada before writing this song and rather chose this expression due to the drink’s exoticness (as in alluding to a vacation or “escape”). Furthermore, he chose this cocktail because of the fact that it sounded cool in the chorus.
  • Indeed when this track was originally conceptualized, it was entitled “People Need Other People”. And the lyrics went through various stages, including “if you like Humphrey Bogart” (instead of “piña coladas), before becoming the song we all know and love.
  • When this song was first released, its title was simply “Escape”. However, Infinity Records added “The Piña Colada Song” as its subtitle for marketing reasons. They did so because that is how most fans referred to the track when they went looking for it in record stores.

A very successful song

“Escape” was a huge hit, peaking at number 1 in America (the Billboard Hot 100) and also in Canada (the Top Singles’ chart). The song also made it upon the top 10 of music charts in Belgium, Ireland and New Zealand. Additionally it made an appearance on the UK Singles chart, reaching a peak position of 23.

Throughout his super successful career as a songwriter, Rupert Holmes wrote numerous songs for various top-name artists as well as a number of popular Broadway plays (in their entirety). However, none of these songs achieved the immense success “Escape” achieved. As a matter of fact, this track has proven to be the signature piece of Holmes’ career.

Due to the success of this track, piña coladas (including the non-alcoholic variety) became a popular drink sold throughout the United States, whereas previously they were not.

Furthermore, the song went on to enjoy an enduring presence in American popular media throughout the decades. It has appeared on several television shows and movies such as “Will and Grace”, “The Simpsons” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” (with the “Guardians of the Galaxy” soundtrack reaching number 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2014).

Release Date of “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”

This Rupert Holmes classic was originally released by Infinity Records on 21 September 1979. It was the lead single off of Holmes’s hit album Partners in Crime.

Topped the Hot 100 charts in multiple separate decades

The song made it to number 1 on the Hot 100 near the latter part of 1979. However, it lost the position to KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Please Don’t Go”. But then it regained the top spot again during the second week of 1980. In doing so, “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” became the first song in history to have topped the Hot 100 in two separate decades.

Who wrote “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”?

This hit song was written and co-produced by Holmes, with the other co-producer being Jim Boyer.

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