The Real Backstory Behind Escape (The Piña Colada Song)

Every music fan has at least one song that they're hesitant to admit that they like. While the history of popular music is filled with songs of unfathomable depth and meaning — such as The Beatles' "Yesterday" or Green Day's "When September Ends" — there have also been quite a few that border on being insipid. Call them "guilty pleasures" -– songs that are obviously silly and lack meaning, but you love them anyway, as Complex explains.

One of the biggest guilty pleasure songs of all time is Rupert Holmes' 1979 hit "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)." The song explores infidelity in a relationship and invokes a comedic twist at the end. And its sexy hook that introduces the chorus ("If you like Piña Colada") begs to be sung at the top of your lungs. It should come as no surprise that, four decades after it was released, the song continues to exert an influence on popular culture.

'Piña Colada' sounds way better than 'Humphrey Bogart'

As Musicholics notes, back in 1979, Rupert Holmes was working on his fifth album, and he and his backup musicians eventually came up with a melody punctuated by an unorthodox drum beat -– Holmes called it "upside down Reggae." He and his crew then painstakingly cut the tape with a razor (this was decades before the process could be done digitally) and eventually had a "loop" that formed the musical foundation for an as-yet-unwritten song.

As Songfacts explains, Holmes tried to pin a variety of lyrics to the melody, without success, before taking inspiration from the personal ads. He began imagining himself in the position of a person who was compelled to take out such an ad. Eventually, Holmes hit on a lyric: "If you like Humphrey Bogart and getting caught in the rain." 

He was just about to sing it to his band before he decided, on the spot, that the Bogart reference wasn't right. Instead, he thought about the first thing a couple on a romantic escape would do, and he decided they'd drink a tropical adult beverage. The words "piña colada" had the right meter, and the rest, as they say, is history. "I had never had a piña colada in my entire life," Holmes admitted.