Island authorities take exception to dance hit ‘I took a pill in Ibiza’

Singer Mike Posner invited to visit Balearics to see what is on offer besides nightclubs

Héctor Llanos Martínez
A still from the remix music video for 'I took a pill in Ibiza'
A still from the remix music video for 'I took a pill in Ibiza'VEVO

Up until a few weeks ago, Mike Posner was a little-known singer from Detroit. He released an album in 2010 that went mostly unnoticed, and had been writing songs for other people since.

But in 2015 he managed to produce a new album whose single, ITook a Pill in Ibiza, has reached the top of the British Top 40 chart and made it to number 9 on the US Billboard’s Hot 100.

The lyrics paint a pessimistic picture of the loneliness and sadness that surround the music industry, with a special focus on his own professional failure.

The only mention of the Spanish island is made in the first line, which recalls Posner’s experience with ecstasy, casting it in a negative light.

But even that was enough to prompt action from Ibiza officials, who are determined to fight the clichés that abound about the Balearic island destination.

Last year, they managed to halt the shoot of the reality show Ibiza Shore (MTV), which they felt was going to offer “a negative image of the island.”

Sign up for our newsletter!

EL PAÍS English Edition is launching a weekly newsletter. Sign up today to receive a selection of our best stories in your inbox every Saturday morning. For full details about how to subscribe, click here.

And now, authorities have reacted to Posner’s song as well.

The island’s director of tourism, Vicent Torres, told Agence France Presse that they have invited the artist to come to Ibiza to discover what lies beyond the bars and the nightclubs.

“We have a lot more to offer besides world-famous nightlife,” he said. “We have museums, beaches, culture, cuisine and a great range of things to offer, but unfortunately we’ve been typecast.”

Judging by Posner’s own account, his relationship with drugs and with Ibiza has been close to nil.

“It was sort of a mystery pill. I was already under the influence of alcohol at the time. I had written a song with Avicii that week in Sweden called ‘Stay With You’ and he was playing in Ibiza so I said, ‘I’ll just go there with you,’ because I was already in Europe. I don’t have like a regular 9-5 job … so might as well go to Ibiza, right? I had never been there before. So I went,” he explains on the music website Genius.

We have a lot more to offer besides world-famous nightlife, but unfortunately we have been typecast

Vicent Torres, Ibiza tourism chief

“We were at his show and I was drinking at the time," he continues. “And most people didn’t know who the fuck I was in Ibiza except for this one guy who recognized me. He was like, ‘Are you Mike Posner?’ and he was all excited. He holds up this little bag of pills and is like, ‘You want one?’ And drunk Mike Posner was like, ‘Fuck it, yeah.’ So I took one and I had never done that before, and I felt amazing. Then when I came down I felt ten years older…”

BBC Radio 1 analyzed the lyrics before airing the song. In statements to The Independent, a radio spokesman said that “the song starts with the singer taking ecstasy but the lyrics clearly state he had a negative experience. [...] It’s a controversial song but we trust our audience to recognize it doesn’t endorse drugs.”

However, radio DJs were told to refer to the song simply as In Ibiza.

The original acoustic version of the song came with a simple music video shot in black and white and based on Bob Dylan’s classic Don't look back, in which the artist stands in front of the camera with cue cards displaying words included in the lyrics.

But the video made to go with the remix – created by the Norwegians SeeB – does include explicit drug-related scenes and has already notched up 61 million views on YouTube.

According to regional government figures, more than 2.5 million people visited Ibiza and the neighboring island Formentera last year.

English version by Susana Urra.

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS