Sunday, August 19, 2018

Songs that, Perhaps Surprisingly, We Don't Hate: Rupert Holmes, "Escape (the piña colada song)"

Don't worry; I'm not going to try to defend this song on the merits. It is bad and dumb. But, while I know there's kind of a cottage industry devoted to hating it, for me to really hate a song it has to somehow outrage my sensibilities. But this doesn't; it just kind of amuses them. I certainly won't, like, go out of my way to hear it or anything, but if it comes on the radio--as it does--I won't change the station. Boom.

So you know the plot of the song, presumably; he's bored of his marriage so he answers a personal ad in the paper, only to find that it was actually his wife trying to cheat on him! Doh! Holmes seems to have a kind of insane idea of how personal ads work, but that is neither here nor there. So, sing along:

If you like piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain,
If you're not into yoga, if you have half a brain,
If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape,
I´m the love that you've looked for, write to me, and escape.

...or don't. Yeah, there's no denying it; these people are pretty insufferable. But I have to say, I always laugh at the "if you're not into yoga" part (and also the "I'm not much into health food" bit in the response), because holy shit this is the most painfully, intensely seventies thing ever (and ALSO ALSO, re "I'm not much into health food, I am into champagne": hmm...are you sure you're not actually into WD-40?  'Cause you sound like some kind of robot).

There's another thing I kind of like about it, too, reading it against itself: all of these things--being into fruity drinks, getting rained on, etc--are clearly meant to be a vision of a genuine alternative; a life removed from the humdrum. And yet, I can't help reading it in terms of this kind of mid-century white male with a petite bourgeois lifestyle that they can see on some level is destroying them, but that they can't remotely conceptualize how to, ahem, escape, so you just get these little signifiers that don't remotely come together into something coherent--like Rabbit Angstrom or someone. We're supposed to read the denouement as the two of them realizing that they all they really need is each other after all? NO. All it does is prove to them with a grim finality that there is no escape; they're stuck in this white-picket-fences hellscape until they die. The song's a lot more tolerable thought of in those terms, I find.


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