"Copacabana", also known as "Copacabana (At the Copa)", is a song recorded by Barry Manilow. Written by Manilow, Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman, it was released in 1978 as the third and final single from Manilow's fifth studio album, Even Now (1979).
The song was inspired by a conversation between Manilow and Sussman at the Copacabana Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, when they discussed whether there had ever been a song called "Copacabana". After returning to the US, Manilow — who, in the 1960s, had been a regular visitor to the Copacabana nightclub in New York City — suggested that Sussman and Feldman write the lyrics to a story song for him. They did so, and Manilow supplied the music.
The song's lyrics refer to a famous night club, the Copacabana: "at the Copa, Copacabana, the hottest spot north of Havana". The beginning is set in the late 1940s and tells the story of Lola, a showgirl, and her lover Tony, a bartender at the club who she loses in a fight with Rico, a Mafia boss who takes an interest in Lola, calls her over to his table (most likely to try to seduce her); in response, Tony tries to protect Lola from Rico, and in the ensuing fight one of the men shoots the other. The ending is set thirty years later in the 1970s, where the club has been transformed into a disco. Lola has grown old and is alone and insane, pining for her lost love Tony.
The recording was used as incidental music in the 1978 movie Foul Play, which starred Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn, and has been featured in over a dozen other films since. The single version clocks in at 4:08, the Extended Disco version is titled "Copacabana (At The Copa) (Disco)" and is 5:46. As opposed to a commercial 12" single, the extended version was on the flip side of the 45 and can also be found on Manilow's first Greatest Hits double album.
It debuted on Billboard magazine's Top 40 chart on July 7, 1978, and peaked at #8. It peaked at #42 in the United Kingdom the same year. The track was Manilow's first gold single for a song he recorded and released. Additionally, the lyrics to "Copacabana" earned Manilow his first and only Grammy Award for Pop Male Vocalist in February 1979.
Manilow released a Spanish version titled "Copacabana (En El Copa)" shortly after the English version was released. Though popular in dance clubs catering to Latin audiences, the Spanish version failed to chart on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.
A remixed version of the original English release titled "Copacabana (The 1993 Remix)" peaked at #22 on the UK Singles Chart in 1993.
A home demo recording, albeit truncated, is available on the 4 CD/1 DVD box set collection, The Complete Collection and Then Some.... In conjunction to this release, the song was remixed and released as "Copacabana (At The Copa) 1993 Remix".
In 1985, Manilow and his collaborators Bruce Sussman and Jack Feldman expanded the song into a full length, made-for-television musical, also called Copacabana, writing many additional songs and expanding the plot suggested by the song. This film version was then further expanded by Manilow, Feldman, and Sussman into a full-length, two-act stage musical that ran at the Prince of Wales Theatre on London's West End for two years prior to a lengthy tour of the UK. An American production was later mounted that toured the US for over a year. Over 200 productions of the show have since been mounted worldwide.
- Kylie Minogue performed the song on her 2008 KylieX2008 tour.
- The Vandals recorded a parody of "Copacabana" called "Dachau Cabana" which was later performed by Bradley Nowell of Sublime.
Shirley Bassey and Danny La Rue are other artists who have covered 'Copacabana'.