If you want pina coladas and getting caught in the torrential rain, will you get a hold of really love? | Music |


ou’ll understand track. That loping 70s riff, common from youth, a parent’s mixtape or the Magic FM playlist. The artist’s brilliant, breezy shipment. Then the attractive hook: “if you want pina coladas, and having caught in the torrential rain. If You Should Be perhaps not into yoga, along with half a brain … ”

We rediscovered
Break Free (The Pina Colada Track)
in 2014 as you’re watching Guardians with the Galaxy. I happened to be much more enraptured by the sound recording versus film. And this also particular track – an United States No 1 on the launch in 1979 (though it recharted in 1980, which makes it the actual only real pop track to keep the most notable spot in various decades) – quickly wormed the way into my mind, partially because it was actually thus snappy, partly because it ended up being so frustrating.

If, just like me, you’re the sort of person who sings along to a song despite having only the vaguest grasp of words (“Na-na-na PINA COLADA!”), it’s possible the complicated plotline of Rupert Holmes’s success has passed you by. Very allow me to summarise: Holmes sings of being tired of his girlfriend, and checking out the depressed hearts advertisements during sex as she rests next to him (we are able to keep aside the callousness of the until afterwards). One ad grabs his attention: a mystery girl is seeking one which wants pina coladas, acquiring caught in the rain, that isn’t in to yoga, and “has half a brain”. She also, acquiring certain, desires a person that “likes making love at nighttime, inside the dunes of cape”. Any man matching these needs, she claims, should create to the woman “and escape”.

Our very own protagonist, choosing this explanation suits him completely, spots your own ad as a result, indicating they meet at a club at noon. Not surprisingly strange time for a first date, she walks in – and, what do you are aware, it’s “his very own beautiful girl”. Instead of busting into a flurry of common recrimination, they laugh in the happenstance and mention every interests they never ever knew they shared – including an affair, apparently.

This story 1st maddened following intrigued me personally. I am a data reporter and found it hard in order to get beyond the absolute unlikeliness of your sequence of occasions. Not simply does Holmes’s protagonist occur to see his girl’s secret offer in a regional report, but he’s the


observe it and arrange a conference (we could think, because she actually is however readily available). And when they uncover each other’s infidelity, they just chuckle it well. I wondered, just what had been the possibilities?

I invested days gone by decade as an investigative reporter, digging through numbers behind from offshore financial records to your cleverness company documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Can you imagine I applied my personal analytical skills to the question? OK, whether or not the pina colada pair could have answered both’s adverts – right after which reconciled – may possibly not be the essential pressing problem worldwide, but as soon as the concept took place, i came across it tough so that get.

My personal seek out responses began with wanting to workout the amount of men and women might be eligible for the song’s “lovely girl”. This is made a little challenging by Holmes’s decision not to mention where in fact the tune is set any kind of time point in the words. Given the lack of info on contrary, we chosen Holmes’s home town of Northwich,
limited city in Cheshire dating back to Roman instances
. A pedant might keep in mind that Holmes moved to an area of New York as a child, nevertheless the tune title – avoid – had constantly evoked smalltown The united kingdomt, no less than if you ask me. I grew up a few dozen miles from Northwich. I understood precisely why, living truth be told there, the appeal of pina coladas and a fumble on a far-flung coastline might be enticing. Plus, the united kingdom has actually better archival information.

First, I needed to know exactly how many individuals might have heard of personal advertisement and how numerous might complement it. My personal kick off point ended up being the united kingdom Census – a nationwide work, every ten years, wherein every citizen is legally obliged provide the us government information about by themselves: how old they are, place alongside demographic data.

Escape premiered in 1979, only couple of years prior to the 1981 national census, based on which 17,098 folks lived-in the township of Northwich. After eliminating females and kids – we could think the secret advertisement was actually pursuing a man – the census had the numbers I had to develop.
About 21% associated with the populace at the time happened to be 15 and under, and about 18percent happened to be pensioners
, leaving 10,430 operating get older grownups. Of the, a little less than half will be guys: while much more male babies are created than feminine, the male populace in 1981 had been suffering from the 2nd globe conflict and ladies stay more than males. My personal number of men focused from the advertisement fell to 4,902.

There clearly was a lot more i possibly could do in order to slim down this crowd. While a bisexual man could however fit all of our pina colada-loving lady, a gay guy sadly wouldn’t. There can be small to compliment the commonly thrown-around figure that about one out of 10 of this populace is homosexual.
Proper scientific studies produce dramatically reduced numbers, of approximately 3%
, though these are apt to be underestimates – much larger rates are found among younger adults who possess grown-up with significantly less stigma. We had been dealing with 1981, however, so I excluded 3% of men, getting united states to 4,755 prospects.

Photographs: Getty; Alamy. Composite: Guardian concept team

To study your own offer in a paper, you need to be your readers of that newsprint. As Holmes inconsiderately does not label the paper – its practically as if he were purposely causeing this to be hard – I had to develop to complete some detective work.

Individual ads make a lot more good sense in an area papers than a national one; who would like to travel 200 kilometers to bond over a standard hatred of pilates? Therefore I had a need to know how a lot of neighborhood newspapers were sold whenever track arrived on the scene – a figure which, usefully, is collected and published on-line by
Community Marketing Research Centre
. Online can be killing news media, although it does be useful occasionally.

About 2.5 billion neighborhood and local everyday tabloids happened to be purchased in great britain each and every year during the time of the tune’s release, or around eight million magazines each and every day. Paper marketing study tends to assume about 2.5 individuals browse each backup, meaning 20 million men and women a-day would take a look at a paper. Because of the UK populace at the time ended up being 56.3 million this is certainly 36.1per cent, indicating regarding our very own 4,755 potentially qualified guys, 1,689 will have heard of advertisement.

Hang on one minute, you are likely to state. The way the hell do we understand those that liked pina coladas? Aside from acquiring caught in the torrential rain, therefore the sense in the ocean? Sadly, there isn’t any historic analysis about Northwich that addresses these questions – making me with only 1 recourse: a rigorous medical poll today’s Uk general public, in the hope that tastes have not moved as well radically previously 39 decades.

Miraculously, I became able to sway the polling organization YouGov to place these questions towards the community in a manner that would create serious responses. This is certainly sturdy information, describes YouGov governmental specialist Chris Curtis: “Unlike the ‘polls’ you notice on Twitter, whenever conducting investigation we promise the audience is choosing a representative sample on the Uk general public. Meaning we ask the most effective few old, young, middle-income group, working class [people].”

The guy found that ladies are inclined than men to savor pina coladas (by 44per cent to 34per cent). Normally reduced figures for a legendary cocktail: the nice pineapple, rum and coconut drink is also the trademark beverage of Puerto Rico, along with its own national time. But, unfortunately, the polls never sit.

Our poll had to be split into five various questions, reworded from the initial personal ad, with solutions provided in haphazard requests – mostly to ensure people provided an authentic response to each, as opposed to piecing with each other the words of this track. A few things needed a tweak. “whilst it could seem apparent to several, it had been important we specified that by asking about having ‘half a brain’ we were not chatting literally and as an alternative referring to cleverness,” says Curtis.

Then, we just must observe many men inside our trial paired each facet of the track. Besides did 34per cent of men like pina coladas, and 27per cent liked acquiring caught in the torrential rain. We had gotten a much better hit rate for not-being into yoga – 81percent of your test aren’t interested – while 80per cent believe they’re smart (the nearest we could will “have one half a brain”). “having sex at midnight inside dunes regarding the cape” is quite as well specific to poll, nevertheless the investigation performed establish that 34% of males say they like having sex on a beach (a figure regarded sceptically by people who have accomplished this).

Assuming that each of these concerns ended up being separate through the other individuals – like, liking rain makes you not much more likely to be into pina coladas – we calculated that just 2percent of men (one out of 50) would complement the personal ad in Holmes’s song. This provided you the response to how many males residing in Northwich and checking out the paper would see the advertisement and be curious: 34. Thus I had my personal answer: our song’s protagonist ended up being mildly, yet not spectacularly, fortunate to get the most important individual react to their girl’s advertisement. We understood the particular chances.

But this however did not feel like the end of my journey. Think about that improbable delighted ending? In the place of getting surprised and harmed by their particular shared efforts at infidelity, the pair just make fun of about any of it. Just what happened to be the likelihood of



Funnily sufficient, there’s absolutely no research that covers this specific situation – but there is however study into something close. The American scholastic Dr Nancy Kalish, dependent at California State college in Sacramento, CA, has invested decades examining exactly why
some divorced couples become not only reconciling, but remarrying one another

What percentage of divorced partners get back together? The answer is 6percent, or around one in 17 – very few, but probably over you’ll expect. Remarkably, these partners had a very good chance for remaining with each other once and for all; at 72per cent, really over the average. It appears there’s a case of second-time-lucky, or some forgiveness allows you to stronger, which can bode really the characters inside our tune.

Therefore, roughly speaking, I’d my personal answers. Whenever we take-all the data together, the likelihood of Holmes’s tale happening as explained tend to be one out of 567. This is fairly extremely unlikely – comparable possibility as actually created with an additional hand or two – however in a nation with lots of people, stranger things happen each day.

My examination, I was forced to deduce, had roundly vindicated Holmes’s songwriting. But it kickstarted a habit – fact-checking pop music songs, and learning about society as I performed. For-instance: a 1980s study coached myself that whenever undergraduate experts asked a stranger “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, femme pour ce soir?” three-quarters of men stated yes (minimal females did). Can you cry a river? Not: the average level of a person tear isn’t great, therefore would simply take billions streaming every next to complement the circulation in the Thames.

And, in answer to Beyoncé’s question, “Exactly who operate the world?” We discovered that, last year, off a maximum of 193 us countries, only 15 had a female leader.

Taking songs much more honestly – and a lot more actually – than anyone actually should do instructed me personally that perhaps the flimsiest pop music song is an approach to finding out anything deep in regards to the world. Simply don’t ask myself just what really lovehas accomplish, reached perform with it.

James Ball’s
Must I Remain Or Must I Go? And 87 Some Other Serious Answers To Questions In Songs
is printed by Boxtree at £9.99.

Leaving comments with this part? If you want your own comment to get regarded as for addition on Weekend mag’s emails page on the net, please e-mail
, as well as your title and target (not for book).