Escape (The Piña Colada Song)

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"Escape (The Piña Colada Song)"
A photo of a man's hands in handcuffs
Standard picture sleeve
Single by Rupert Holmes
from the album Partners in Crime
B-side"Drop It"
ReleasedSeptember 17, 1979 (1979-09-17)
GenreSoft rock[1][2]
Length4:36 (album version)
3:50 (single version)
Songwriter(s)Rupert Holmes
  • Rupert Holmes
  • Jim Boyer
Rupert Holmes singles chronology
"Let's Get Crazy Tonight"
"Escape (The Piña Colada Song)"

"Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" is a song written and performed by British-American singer-songwriter Rupert Holmes taken from his fifth studio album Partners in Crime (1979). As the lead single for the album, the pop song was recommended by Billboard for radio broadcasters on September 29, 1979,[3] then added to prominent US radio playlists during October–November.[4] Rising in popularity, the song peaked at the end of December to become the final US number-one song of the 1970s.


The song speaks, in three verses and three choruses, of a man who is bored with his current relationship because it has become routine and he desires some variety. One day, he reads the personal advertisements in the newspaper and spots an ad that catches his attention: a woman seeking a man who, among other little things, must like piña coladas (hence it being known as "the piña colada song"). Intrigued, he takes out an ad in reply and arranges to meet the woman "at a bar called O'Malley's", only to find upon the meeting that the woman is actually his current partner. The song ends on an upbeat note, showing the two lovers realized they have more in common than they had suspected and that they do not have to look any further than each other for what they seek in a relationship.

Background and writing[edit]

Recorded for Holmes's Partners in Crime (1979) album, the song came from an unused track for which Holmes wrote temporary or "dummy" lyrics. This version, "The Law of the Jungle", was released as part of his Cast of Characters (2005) box set and was inspired by a want-ad he read whilst idly scanning the personals one day. As Holmes put it, "I thought, ‘what would happen to me if I answered this ad?’ I'd go and see if it was my own wife who was bored with me." The title of the song was originally going to be "People Need Other People", and was later to be revealed that it was a true story.[citation needed]

The chorus originally started with "If you like Humphrey Bogart", which Holmes changed at the last minute, replacing the actor with the name of the first exotic cocktail that came to mind and fit the music.

The original lyrics said, "If you like Humphrey Bogart and getting caught in the rain."…
As I was getting on mic I thought to myself, I’ve done so many movie references to Bogart and wide-screen cinema on my earlier albums, maybe I shouldn’t do one here.
I thought, What can I substitute? Well, this woman wants an escape, like she wants to go on vacation to the islands. When you go on vacation to the islands, when you sit on the beach and someone asks you if you’d like a drink, you never order a Budweiser, you don’t have a beer. You’re on vacation, you want a drink in a hollowed-out pineapple with the flags of all nations and a parasol. If the drink is blue you’d be very happy. And a long straw. I thought, What are those escape drinks? Let’s see, there’s daiquiri, mai tai, piña colada… I wonder what a piña colada tastes like? I’ve never even had one.
I thought that instead of singing, "If you like Humphrey Bogart," with the emphasis on like, I could start it a syllable earlier and go, "If you like piña-a coladas."

— Rupert Holmes[5][6]

Holmes said in 2019 that he still does not drink piña coladas.[7]

Reception and legacy[edit]

The song shot up through the US charts, becoming the country's last number-one Billboard Hot 100 hit of 1979 and of the 1970s. "Escape" was knocked out of the top spot but returned to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the second week of 1980, having been displaced for a week by KC and the Sunshine Band's "Please Don't Go".[8] It was the first pop song to ascend to #1 on the Billboard pop chart in two different decades.[9] The song was the US's 11th-best-selling single of 1980 on the Billboard Hot 100.[10]

Credits and personnel[edit]



Sales certifications for "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[22] Platinum 600,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[23] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum. SpinMedia. May 31, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  2. ^ "10 Soft Rock Songs People In The 70s Fell In Love With". I Love Classic Rock. Retrieved November 12, 2022.
  3. ^ "Top Single Picks". Billboard. Vol. 91, no. 39. September 29, 1979. p. 74.
  4. ^ "Singles Radio Action: Playlist Top Add Ons". Billboard. Vol. 91, no. 45. November 10, 1979. p. 21.
  5. ^ Holmes, Rupert (September 19, 2003). "Rupert Holmes ("Pina Colada Song")" (Interview). Interviewed by Carl Wiser. Songfacts.
  6. ^ Holmes, Rupert (October 15, 2012). Rupert Holmes at Rockers On Broadway talks about & plays Escape (The Piña Colada Song). 3B Productions (on YouTube). Archived from the original on December 12, 2021.
  7. ^ Howard Heithaus, Harriet. "Rupert Holmes brings piña coladas, other sweet surprises to TheatreZone show". Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  8. ^ "The Hot 100". Billboard. January 12, 1980.
  9. ^ If a decade is measured instead by the traditional definition of a ten-year period starting on January 1 in a year whose last digit is "1" and ending on December 31 in a year whose last digit is "0", then Chubby Checker's "The Twist" is the first pop song to ascend to No. 1 on the Billboard pop charts in two different decades, once on September 19, 1960 (inside the decade January 1, 1951 – December 31, 1960), and again on January 13, 1962 (inside the decade January 1, 1961 – December 31, 1970).
  10. ^ "Top 100 Songs of 1980 – Billboard Year End Charts". Retrieved October 15, 2016.
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 141. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  12. ^ "Radio2 top 30: 15 oktober 2016 | Radio2". Archived from the original on April 9, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2016.
  13. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Rupert Holmes" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  14. ^ "Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Piña Colada Song)". Top 40 Singles.
  15. ^ "SA Charts 1965 – March 1989". Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  16. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  17. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (July 17, 2013). "Image : RPM Weekly". Library and Archives Canada.
  18. ^ "Kent Music Report No 341 – 5 January 1981 > National Top 100 Singles for 1980". Kent Music Report, via Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  19. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on April 25, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  20. ^ "Pop Singles" Billboard December 20, 1980: TIA-10.
  21. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  22. ^ "British single certifications – Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  23. ^ "American single certifications – Rupert Holmes – Escape (The Pina Colada Song)". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 1, 2019.