"Escape", also known as "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)", is a song written and recorded by American singer Rupert Holmes. It was released in September 1979 as the lead single from his album Partners in Crime. It was the last U.S. 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, as it has become routine and his wife and he never talk. One night, he reads the personals, and spots an ad that catches his attention: a woman who is seeking a man who, among other little things, must like piña coladas. Intrigued, he writes back and arranges to meet with the woman "at a bar called O'Malley's", only to find upon the meeting that the woman is actually his current wife. The song ends on an upbeat note, showing that the two lovers realized they have more in common than they suspected, and that they do not have to look any further than each other for what they seek in a relationship.
After its release as a single, the song became immediately popular, though initial sales were slow due to the song's actual title, "Escape" going unnoticed in the place of the oft-repeated cocktail. Holmes reluctantly agreed to rename the song "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)". The song shot up through the charts, becoming the last number-one Billboard Hot 100 hit of the 1970s. Although some sources list this song as the first number-one hit of the 1980s, this is not true; the first chart of that decade, dated on January 5, 1980, was topped by "Please Don't Go" by KC and the Sunshine Band. "Escape", which was number 2 that week, returned to number 1 for an additional week on the January 12 chart, thus having the distinction of being the only single in the US to rise to the number 1 position in different decades.
Background and writing
Recorded for 1979's Partners in Crime, 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 2005 Cast of Characters box set, and were inspired by a want-ad he read while idly perusing 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 originally was going to be "People Need Other People" which was written years earlier for Holmes' own amusement.
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 he could think of. When Rupert recorded the vocal, he did it just once as a scratch track for his lead guitarist, Dean Bailin. He also ad-libbed a harmony track a third above himself on the chorus, then left the song and came back the next day to record the proper vocal. When he came back to do the perfect vocal, he could not get the energy, excitement and enthusiasm he had singing it that one time straight through.
Holmes regards the song with a mixture of pride and chagrin; while it has made him wealthy and famous, as one of his friends described it, it is "the success that ruined his career", drawing too much attention from his more serious musical works. He does not care for the drink; he once said on the Uncle Floyd Show that they tasted like Kaopectate.