Nothing sums up 2018 like the fact that Toto’s “Africa” is now our unofficial anthem. It is a song that’s ridiculous by definition — an Eighties ode to Africa by a lot of L.A. rock dudes who’d never set foot in the place. But something about this song speaks to your moment. Oahu is the new “Don’t Stop Believin’” — a mega-cheese classic of Eighties sentiment that’s gotten bizarrely popular in recent years, beloved by hipsters and moms and tone-deaf karaoke singers screaming “I bless the rains down in Africa!” Love it or hate it, you’ve probably heard it today. You’ll hear it tomorrow. This damn song follows you everywhere, just like the sound of wild dogs crying out in the night.
Toto’s Africa is a place that doesn’t exist and never did — this song has nothing to do with the continent, unless you count that groovy synth-kalimba solo. However the song works out to be always a map of today’s America, which is why it’s much bigger now than it had been in the Eighties. As Toto 사설토토사이트 Jeff Porcaro summed it up, “A bright boy is attempting to publish a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past.” The singer is so deep in his feelings, he barely notices where he is—hence the hilarious “whoa dude, there is a mountain” moment when “Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.” Needless to freaking say, you can’t see Kilimanjaro from the Serengeti, which is really a couple hundred miles away. Does it matter? The complete point of “Africa” is that you’re nowhere at all.
Weezer just scored their first Hot 100 hit in years with their surprise cover of “Africa,” giving an answer to a widespread online fan petition. Toto returned the favor last month by playing Weezer’s “Hash Pipe” live. “We figured since we were smoking hash since before these were born, this is the one we ought to do,” guitarist Steve Lukather said onstage. “This is our tribute to Weezer, God bless ‘em.” For a long time Lukather has played in Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band, meaning that every gig, Ringo is up there drumming to “Africa.” Did any Beatles fan predict a future where Ringo would spend the 21st Century playing “Africa” every evening however not “Octopus’s Garden”? Yet that’s what we’ve come to. As a good man once sang, it don’t come easy.
The complete weird history of American culture is in this song somewhere. The studio pros in Toto played on Thriller, not to mention rock classics from Boz Scaggs to Steely Dan, this means all that grooveology is lurking deep in “Africa.” Thomas Pynchon put the song in his latest novel Bleeding Edge, in which a crew of start-up dot-commers belt it in a NYC karaoke bar on the eve of 9/11, except they think it goes, “I left my brains down in Africa.” It shows on TV from Stranger Things to South Park.Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon sang it at Camp Winnipesaukee. CBS chose to play it inside their coverage of Nelson Mandela’s funeral, which even the Toto guys thought was somewhat insane. (Singer and co-writer David Paich released a statement saying CBS should used actual South African music instead, adding “We honor Nelson Mandela.”) Going to this song for authentic African flava is similar to finding a French lesson from Paris Hilton.
“Africa” hit Number One in February 1983 — it replaced Men at Work’s ode to Australia, “Down Under,” the only real time in pop history two continents slugged it out for Number One. (Right following the band Asia had the best-selling album of 1982.) But “Down Under” is a real song about a genuine place — Aussie bros kicking local slang to shout out Vegemite sandwiches. “Africa” is many different — a song about feeling homesick for nowhere. The singer is lost over time and place, yearning for a romance that never happened in a homeland he’s never seen. He doesn’t know something about Africa, except it needs to be better compared to the nightmare where he’s trapped right now. (You could even say he’s…frightened of this thing that he’s becoooome!) Today, most of us know how that feels. Might you request a better summary of modern alienation than the usual yacht-rock song in regards to the desert?