Jul 312019
sugar ray pina colada

Newspaper personal ads are like relics of a lost age. Long before dating apps allowed people seeking companionship to post photos of their faces and/or various body parts online, anyone looking to meet someone outside their circle had to go through the lengthy process of submitting a written personal ad. That included filling out a form with a strict character limit, sending it into the paper with a check or money order, waiting for it to be published in print and then waiting even longer for any type of response.

The whole ordeal was memorialized by singer Rupert Holmes in his 1979 hit “Escape (The Piña Colada Song).” Holmes tells the story of an otherwise bored couple who accidentally reconcile after discovering through the personals that they have a mutual affection for sweetened alcoholic beverages, damp clothing and late-night romps in the sand. I guess they did not communicate well in person. The track holds the distinction of being the last number one song of the ‘70s, reaching the top spot on December 22, 1979. The silky-smooth, blue-eyed soul grooves have helped it endure as a classic of the genre now known as Yacht Rock.

A mere 18 years later, in 1997, Sugar Ray scored an international hit with the light, funky hip-hop-ish “Fly.” The band – still led by frontman, one-time Extra host and occasional Beach Boy Mark McGrath – recently released its first new album in a decade. Titled Little Yachty, the album features numerous reggae-tinged originals that attempt to capitalize on the latter-day Yacht Rock resurgence.

Sugar Ray’s new music emulates bands like UB40 and the island-flavored country rock of artists such as Kenny Chesney, while the closing track “California Gold” is a direct homage to the sounds of Christopher Cross. The group’s cover of Holmes’ “Escape” fits in with the laid-back feel of the record. The cover does not veer too far from Holmes’ original but has a slightly more Carribean-style beat and a few extra vocal effects. Sadly, liking this new version of “Escape” on social media probably won’t be enough to score you a date, whether you drink piña coladas or not.

If you like yacht rock and long walks on the beach, follow these links to listen to covers of songs by Toto, Daryl Hall & John Oates and Steely Dan.

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