Nothing sums up 2018 like the fact that Toto’s “Africa” is becoming our unofficial anthem. It’s a song that’s ridiculous by definition — an Eighties ode to Africa by a number of L.A. rock dudes who’d never set foot in the place. But something about this song speaks to the moment. It’s the new “Don’t Stop Believin’” — a mega-cheese classic of Eighties sentiment that’s gotten bizarrely popular recently, beloved by hipsters and moms and tone-deaf karaoke singers screaming “I bless the rains down in Africa!” Like it or hate it, you’ve probably heard it today 사설토토사이트. 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 just a place that doesn’t exist and never did — this song has nothing to do with the continent, if you count that groovy synth-kalimba solo. But the song works out to be always a map of today’s America, which is why it’s much bigger now than it absolutely was in the Eighties. As Toto drummer Jeff Porcaro summed it up, “A bright boy is wanting to publish a tune on Africa, but since he’s never been there, they can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past.” The singer is indeed deep in his feelings, he barely notices where he is—hence the hilarious “whoa dude, there’s a mountain” moment when “Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.” Needless to freaking say, you can’t see Kilimanjaro from the Serengeti, which really is 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,” answering 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 they were born, that’s the one we must do,” guitarist Steve Lukather said onstage. “This is our tribute to Weezer, God bless ‘em.” For decades Lukather has played in Ringo Starr’s All-Star Band, which means that every gig, Ringo is up there drumming to “Africa.” Did any Beatles fan predict another where Ringo would spend the 21st Century playing “Africa” every night 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, and of course 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, the place where 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 up on TV from Stranger Things to South Park.Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon sang it at Camp Winnipesaukee. CBS chose to play it within 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 have used actual South African music instead, adding “We honor Nelson Mandela.”) Going to the song for authentic African flava is like getting 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 sole 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 just a real song about an actual place — Aussie bros kicking local slang to shout out Vegemite sandwiches. “Africa” is completely different — a tune about feeling homesick for nowhere. The singer is lost with time and place, yearning for a romance that never happened in a homeland he’s never seen. He doesn’t know anything about Africa, except it has to be better than the nightmare where he’s trapped right now. (You could even say he’s…frightened of this thing that he’s becoooome!) Today, all of us discover how that feels. Could you require a better summary of modern alienation than a yacht-rock song about the desert?