The Piña Colada Song – A Translation Guide for Millennials

Rupert Holmes Pina Colado Song

(Updated 6/1/2015)

What is the link between Guardians of the Galaxy and Shrek?

Well, Rupert Holmes’ Piña Colada song of course from 1979. Officially called Escape (The Piña Colada Song). For anyone born after 1990, their connection to this song is mainly the chorus, which is darn hard not to like and comes at a perfect times during these movies. It is catchy and downright addicting.

However, those who only know the chorus are missing one of the truly twisted love songs of our time. Well, at least of my time, but that gets me to my point.

I suddenly realized that those Millennials who get beyond the chorus may not even understand the rest of the lyrics. The lyrics seem simple enough, but they are a time machine dealing with relationship problems in a pre-digital era.

Here, we will breakdown the lyrics in a translation guide for millennials:

> I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long. Like a worn-out recording, of a favorite song.
Translation: Guys getting tired of their lady still happens (not in my house fortunately) but wearing out a recording doesn’t happen with digital copies. This refers to records. You know, those black discs that played on a record player? There was a time you could play those enough to wear them out. The same could be done for 8-tracks and cassettes as those tapes only lasted so long.

record player

> So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed
Translation: Newspapers were in their prime and delivered to people’s homes each morning. Yes, that meant there was only one news cycle per day. In 2000, 47% of Americans read a newspaper daily. In 2012, it was just 29% and more than 350 daily newspapers have gone away in the last 30 years. A 2015 study reported that worldwide newspaper readership is down 25% over the last four years.

reading newspaper in bed

> And in the personals column, there was this letter I read
Translation: Newspapers (see above) also had personal columns. Think of them as an old-school Tinder. It took days to get a response. Personal sections in newspapers are dead. Tinder usage has exceeded 50 million users and more than a billion “swipes” per day.  An elaborate short-hand was developed long before texting and tweeting simply to save costs and character count in the limited newsprint space.

personal ad

> If you like Piña Coladas
Translation: Outside of beach communities, I don’t think Piña Coladas were ever big, but today it’s about the craft beer industry which is now a $19.6 billion business and wine. Costco is now the world’s #1 importer of high-end French wines.

> and getting caught in the rain.
Translation: What’s the point of getting caught in the rain with Uber and Lyft? Uber now has more than $500 million in revenue yearly.

> If you’re not into yoga, if you have half a brain
Translation: Millennials feel they invented yoga. Not true, actually. But they sure did make the clothes cooler with lululemon. You can even wear them shopping.

Yoga pants shopping

> If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape
Translation: I’m not even sure what that means. (Note: the dunes on the cape part, but it sounds sandy and gross).

Dunes of the cape

> I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me, and escape.
Translation: Letter writing was the pre-cursor to texting. Now, letter writing is at all-time low according to the U.S. Postal Service and the USPS has lost more than $45 billion since 2007. In 1987, most U.S. households received 1.6 pieces of personal mail per week. By 2012, it was 0.7. Most of that has to be holiday cards. Plus, 41% of elementary school teachers polled said they don’t even teach cursive any longer.

Cursive writing

> I didn’t think about my lady, I know that sounds kind of mean. But me and my old lady, had fallen into the same old dull routine.
Translation: That still happens. As long as we are guys, we will be self-absorbed and insensitive.

> So I wrote to the paper, took out a personal ad
Translation: Writing AND paper. You have a better chance of spotting Sasquatch.

> And though I’m nobody’s poet, I thought it wasn’t half bad
Translation: Not everyone got a ribbon, so we had to congratulate ourselves. Today, selfies make up 30% of the photos taken by 18-24 year olds, according to Samsung.

> Yes, I like Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain, I’m not much into health food. I am into champagne.
Translation: Whole Foods was created in 1980, shortly after the Piña Colada song was released but started expanding more in the 1990s and 2000s, so we had to shop with other commoners for fruit and vegetables at traditional super markets. Kale was big in the 90s and made a resurgence in 2012-13. Champagne usage has had incremental growth since the 70s also.


> I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon, and cut through all this red tape.
Translation: FaceTime, Snapchat, Periscope and Meerkat make it possible to connect this instant. You had to wait until the next newspaper (see above) to get messages.

> At a bar called O’Malley’s, where we’ll plan our escape.
Translation: Irish pubs haven’t changed fortunately.

> So I waited with high hopes, then she walked in the place. I knew her smile in an instant, I knew the curve of her face.
Translation: Cell phones didn’t exist, so he was actually looking up and taking in the world around him.


> It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “Oh, it’s you.” And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew”…
Translation: Recognizing people is far easier today due to selfies and Instagram.

> That you liked Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain. And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne. If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.
Translation: Still confused, but moving on from this one.

> Repeat chorus.

If you have further translations, please add them to the comments below. Or, just share this blog instantly using your cell phone.


Categories: Marketing, Personal

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11 replies

  1. Fun to find this after getting that song stuck in my head! One thing to add is that in the 70s, “health food” was not about the vegetables at all. Health food was more like white Midwestern food – bland, highly processed, low variety, but with wheat germ, spirulina, textured vegetable protein, cottage cheese, granola, carrots or beets and cabbage on everything. Allegedly better for you than all that fifties food like hot dogs and hamburgers, but you’d have to be a gullible hippy-dippy trendoid to be “into” it, and the songwriter is saying he’s too authentic and hedonistic for that.

  2. What a condescending twat you are.

  3. Okay….when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s we thought “health food” was only for the very rich. Health food for us was growing your own garden and foraging (mushrooms, wild onions, blackberries, etc.)!
    Oh, about the “dunes of the cape”. Seriously?

  4. I cannot believe this song needs to be explained. It ain’t hard.

  5. The “dunes on the Cape” should be capitalized (I know it’s not on Google Play Music), it refers to the sand dunes on Cape Cod, specifically the Cape Cod National Seashore, likely in the town of Truro, Massachusetts.

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  7. “1. It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “Oh, it’s you.” And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew”…
    Translation: Recognizing people is far easier today due to selfies and Instagram.

    2. > That you liked Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain. And the feel of the ocean, and the taste of champagne. If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape.
    Translation: Still confused, but moving on from this one.”

    1. It was the same woman from the beginning of the song (my own lovely lady). Both had gotten bored in the relationship, and secretly put out singles ads in the paper. That’s why she said “Oh it’s you.” because they already knew each other. The reason they laugh is that they still ended up choosing one another, again, via singles ads in the paper this time. Then he says “I never knew”, which leads to 2 below.

    2. These are things they never knew about each other, despite being together for so long. So even though they felt the relationship had grown stale from being together too long, the reality was that they actually hadn’t gotten to know each other well enough yet, and were perfect for each other.

    This is pretty much the moral of the song, so it may be important to include in your translation lol. Hope this helps!

    P.S. Take it easy on millennials. I was born in 1991 lol.

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