ou’ll know the song. That loping 70s riff, familiar from childhood, a parent’s mixtape or the secret FM playlist. The singer’s vibrant, breezy shipment. Then the enticing hook: „if you prefer pina coladas, and obtaining caught in the pouring rain. If you’re maybe not into yoga, along with half a brain … “

I rediscovered
Get Away (The Pina Colada Tune)
in 2014 while you’re watching Guardians Of The Galaxy. I was even more enraptured of the soundtrack as compared to movie. And also this specific track – a me zero 1 on their release in 1979 (even though it recharted in 1980, that makes it the actual only real pop music tune to put on the most effective spot in various many years) – shortly wormed its way into my personal psyche, partially since it ended up being very snappy, partially since it had been thus annoying.

If, like me, you’re the type of person who sings along to a song despite having just the vaguest comprehension with the lyrics („Na-na-na PINA COLADA!“), it’s possible the complex plotline of Rupert Holmes’s success has passed you by. So let me summarise: Holmes sings of being uninterested in their girl, and checking out the lonely hearts adverts during intercourse as she rests next to him (we are able to keep apart the callousness of that until later). One offer captures his eye: a mystery girl wants a man which loves pina coladas, acquiring caught in the torrential rain, who’sn’t in to yoga, and „has half a brain“. She in addition, obtaining specific, wishes an individual who „likes having intercourse at nighttime, during the dunes associated with the cape“. Any guy matching these demands, she claims, should compose to her „and escape“.

The protagonist, determining this description suits him completely, spots your own ad in response, recommending they fulfill at a bar at noon. Despite this uncommon time for a first time, she walks in – and, exactly what do you are sure that, it’s „his very own beautiful girl“. In place of breaking into a flurry of common recrimination, they laugh in the coincidence and discuss most of the passions they never ever understood they shared – including an affair, apparently.

This tale first maddened right after which intrigued me personally. I’m a data journalist and discovered it tough getting through the sheer unlikeliness with this sequence of activities. Not just really does Holmes’s protagonist happen to see their gf’s secret advertising in an area report, but he is the

very first

to see it and organize a gathering (we are able to assume, because she’s nonetheless offered). Once they uncover both’s unfaithfulness, they just have a good laugh it well. I questioned, what happened to be the possibilities?

I invested yesteryear ten years as an investigative reporter, digging through numbers behind sets from offshore monetary records towards cleverness company papers released by Edward Snowden. Imagine if we used my personal mathematical abilities to this concern? OK, whether or not the pina colada couple would have answered both’s ads – right after which reconciled – might not be the quintessential pressing problem on the planet, but once the concept happened, I found it hard to let go.

My research solutions started with wanting to workout what amount of men and women may be eligible for the tune’s „lovely girl“. This is made a little tough by Holmes’s decision not to mention the spot where the song is placed at any part of the lyrics. Because of the absence of information to your contrary, I chosen Holmes’s hometown of Northwich,
a small town in Cheshire dating back to to Roman times
. A pedant might note that Holmes moved to a suburb of the latest York as a young child, nevertheless the tune concept – Escape – had always evoked smalltown England, no less than for me. We spent my youth multiple dozen kilometers from Northwich. We knew why, living indeed there, the appeal of pina coladas and a fumble on a far-flung beach was attractive. Plus, the united kingdom has much better archival data.

Initial, I needed to learn the amount of individuals might have seen the individual ad and just how a lot of might complement it. My place to start ended up being great britain Census – a nationwide effort, every 10 years, in which every resident is legally obliged giving the government information regarding by themselves: how old they are, location and various other demographic data.

Break free premiered in 1979, just two years ahead of the 1981 nationwide census, per which 17,098 folks lived in the township of Northwich. After getting rid of females and children – we can believe the mystery advertisement was seeking a guy – the census had the figures I needed.
In regards to 21% on the population at that time happened to be 15 and under, and about 18per cent were pensioners
, making 10,430 working age adults. Of the, slightly not even half will be men: while a lot more male infants tend to be created than female, a man population in 1981 had been afflicted by the 2nd world combat and ladies live longer than males. My personal number of men targeted by advertisement dropped to 4,902.

There is even more i really could do to thin out this crowd. While a bisexual man could nevertheless fit our very own pina colada-loving woman, a gay guy unfortunately would not. There is small to aid the commonly thrown-around figure that about one out of 10 on the populace is actually homosexual.
Proper researches produce far lower figures, of about 3per cent
, though they are likely to be underestimates – far greater prices can be found among more youthful grownups who possess grown up with significantly less stigma. We were speaing frankly about 1981, however, thus I excluded 3% of men, having united states to 4,755 applicants.

Photos: Getty; Alamy. Composite: Guardian style group

To read your own advertisement in a newsprint, you should be a reader of the magazine. As Holmes inconsiderately doesn’t list the magazine – it really is practically as if he had been purposely causeing this to be hard – I had to develop to complete some detective work.

Private adverts make more good sense in an area magazine than a national one; who would like to travel 200 miles to bond over a typical hatred of yoga? So I had a need to understand how lots of regional magazines happened to be sold if the tune arrived – a figure which, usefully, is obtained and released internet based because of the
Industry Marketing Research Centre
. The web may be destroying journalism, however it does be useful often.

About 2.5 billion local and regional day-to-day old newspapers had been purchased in the united kingdom every year at the time of the tune’s launch, or around eight million newsprints a day. Paper marketing investigation sometimes presume about 2.5 folks study each backup, which means 20 million individuals just about every day would glance at a paper. Considering the British populace during the time was 56.3 million that will be 36.1%, recommending that of our 4,755 potentially eligible males, 1,689 could have seen the advertisement.

Hang on a minute, you are likely to state. How the hell will we understand those appreciated pina coladas? Let-alone getting caught in the torrential rain, in addition to feel with the water? Unfortunately, there’s no historical investigation about Northwich that covers these questions – making me personally with singular recourse: a rigorous clinical poll nowadays’s British general public, in the hope that preferences haven’t moved also drastically previously 39 many years.

Miraculously, I happened to be in a position to sway the polling organization YouGov to get these concerns towards community in a manner that would create major responses. This is certainly strong data, describes YouGov governmental specialist Chris Curtis: „Unlike the ‘polls‘ you notice on Twitter, when carrying out research we secure the audience is interviewing a representative sample in the British general public. This implies we ask the appropriate amount of old, younger, middle-class, working-class [people].“

He discovered that women can be more likely than males to relish pina coladas (by 44percent to 34per cent). These are generally low figures for a renowned cocktail: the sweet pineapple, rum and coconut drink normally the trademark cocktail of Puerto Rico, featuring its very own nationwide day. But, unfortunately, the polls do not lie.

All of our poll had to be divided into five various questions, reworded through the original individual advertisement, with responses offered in dirtychat random commands – mainly to ensure people gave a genuine reaction to each, in place of piecing with each other the lyrics regarding the tune. Several things required a tweak. „While it might seem evident to many, it absolutely was important we specified that by asking about having ‘half a brain‘ we were not chatting actually and alternatively talking about cleverness,“ says Curtis.

From then on, we simply was required to observe lots of men inside our test paired each facet of the track. Not only performed 34% of males like pina coladas, but additionally 27percent liked getting caught in the torrential rain. We got a far greater success rate for not being into pilates – 81percent in our test are not interested – while 80per cent think they truly are smart (the nearest we could can „have half a brain“). „having intercourse at midnight inside dunes from the cape“ is rather too certain to poll, nevertheless study did set up that 34% of men state they like having sex on a beach (a figure considered sceptically by those people who have completed this).

Let’s assume that all these concerns was independent through the other people – for instance, liking rain allows you to you can forget apt to be into pina coladas – we calculated that just 2percent of men (one in 50) would fit the non-public offer in Holmes’s song. This gave you the solution to what amount of guys residing Northwich and reading the report would understand advertising and stay curious: 34. So I had my response: all of our song’s protagonist was mildly, however spectacularly, happy become initial individual reply to his girlfriend’s ad. I knew the specific possibilities.

But this nonetheless didn’t feel just like the termination of my personal trip. How about that unlikely delighted ending? In the place of being amazed and injured by their particular mutual attempts at cheating, the two merely make fun of about it. Exactly what were the likelihood of



Funnily adequate, there’s no research that covers this exact circumstance – but there is investigation into one thing near. The United states academic Dr Nancy Kalish, based at Ca county University in Sacramento, CA, has invested decades examining precisely why
some divorced partners become not just reconciling, but remarrying both

What portion of divorced lovers get back together? The solution is 6percent, or just around one out of 17 – very few, but possibly over you’d anticipate. Amazingly, these partners had a good probability of keeping with each other permanently; at 72per cent, well above the average. It appears absolutely a case of second-time-lucky, or some forgiveness allows you to more powerful, which might bode well the figures inside our song.

Therefore, about talking, I had my personal answers. If we take-all the statistics with each other, the chances of Holmes’s tale going on as described tend to be one in 567. This will be relatively unlikely – about the same opportunity as being created with a supplementary finger or two – however in a nation with huge numbers of people, stranger things happen everyday.

My study, I found myself forced to conclude, had roundly vindicated Holmes’s songwriting. Nonetheless it kickstarted a habit – fact-checking pop music music, and learning about the whole world as I did. For-instance: a 1980s study coached myself that when undergraduate scientists requested a stranger „Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir?“ three-quarters of men stated yes (very little ladies did). Could you weep a river? Certainly not: the typical amount of an individual rip just isn’t fantastic, and it also would get billions streaming every 2nd to match the movement from the Thames.

And, in reply to Beyoncé’s question, „Just who operate worldwide?“ We learned that, last year, out of a total of 193 us countries, only 15 had women leader.

Getting music much more really – and way more practically – than anyone ever before should do instructed myself that even the flimsiest pop song can be a path to discovering anything deep concerning the world. Simply don’t ask myself just what really lovehas to accomplish, surely got to carry out along with it.

James Baseball’s
Must I Remain Or Ought I Get? And 87 Other Essential Solutions To Issues In Songs
is released by Boxtree at £9.99.

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