Toto during the 25th annual grammy’s in Los Angeles.
“Ran in CVS and forgot to pick up my antidepressants because ‘Africa’ by Toto was playing and I totally forgot about my mental illness.”
“My killer: last words? Me: Alexa, play ‘Africa’ by Toto.”
“If you get ‘Africa’ by Toto at exactly 11:58:33 pm on December 31, the first “I bless the rains down in Africa’ will be playing at exactly midnight. Start of the New Year.”
These are just a few of the memes that “Africa”, a 1982 pop song by the American rock band Toto, has inspired. The internet is the interest in the ’80s hit has catapulted the song to the top of the charts and in the forefront of the millennial humor.
But how do the members of Toto feel about their decades-old song is still a light satirical meme for the avocado toast-obsessed?
“It’s hilarious,” Toto guitarist and vocalist Steve Lukather, recently told Page Six, while he was on the way to a sold-out gig in Texas. “I mean, listen, we recorded the song in 1981. It was a throwaway tune, as on our fourth album and I always loved the job, but I thought the lyrics were silly. I mean, they are!”
He continued, “I think it’s a great honor. I’m excited. It makes me laugh. I mean wow, that is forever. When someone looks back on 2018, we are going to be part of that story. That is pretty cool.”
Lukather, 60, says his band is “a great sense of humor about some of this s–t,” referring to the memes and parodies.
“That’s the only thing about my band that no one has ever come up,” he said. “We have worked together all these years and because we … explain thousands of records and all that s–t, they expect us to be the most serious people in the world, as I’m probably one of the more insane people that you would talk.
“I’ve got a bad, wicked, sense of humor, and when people come to me with these memes and things like that, I laugh my ass off — it’s worse or better. If people make fun of us, that is fine. I get it. I mean, one of them is a ‘South Park’ character. How cool is that? You know what I mean? How can I bitch? That is the coolest ever!”
The one-part soft-rock-a-share-world-music melodic cocktail was written by band members David Paich and jeff Porcaro in 1981 and was released as a single in 1982. The following year, the song reaches No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Since then, with the help of the internet, social media and new streaming services, the number continues to flourish decades later.
“[‘Africa’] is obtaining. It is a kind of a slow build over the past ten years, but it’s started to really multiply in the past two years,” Billboard chart manager for social streaming and rock, Kevin Rutherford, told Page Six.
Between Aug. 10 Aug. 16, Toto’s “Africa” sold 6,000 digital downloads and was streamed 5.8 million times, according to Nielson Music. In addition, this week, the 80s tune is the 53rd-most-sold song in the country, of every genre, and Number 17 on the Pop Digital Song Sales chart.
“In africa,” consistency is quite remarkable given the fact that every other song ahead of it is one of the current song or falls within the hip-hop-driven market (with the exception of Ben E. King’s ’60s classic “Stand By Me”) according to Rutherford.
“I think the internet culture has taken it and truly shot into the stratosphere, because you have different memes or vines … you can share these songs and all these videos and people started bonding over their love for this song,” Rutherford said.
The chart expert tells us that at various moments in the pop culture created spikes in song popularity, is featured in shows like “Strange Things” and “South Park”, to appear in a viral video of Kristin Bell and Dax Shepard are traveling in Africa.
Weezer’s recent cover of the track, which spends its third week at the top of the Alternative Songs airplay chart, also started with Toto’s version back up on the charts.
And while Rutherford is of the opinion that the song the sustainability has to do with his constant presence in pop culture as well as the text’ innocent vagueness, Lukather can’t pinpoint why it has attracted so many generations time and time again.
“I don’t have a f—king idea, and you can quote me on that,” said the rocker, who described the song as “a mystery.” “But it has a great groove. I mean it is a happy thing. The message of the song has nothing to do with ” Oo baby I love you,’ there is no depression. It is not political, so there is no depression. It is a fantasy song. It is like a Disneyland song or whatever.
“We went there and it was fun and made this record … People latch on to. It’s kitschy enough that the lyrics are weird enough that people remember it.”
Almost 40 years after the band in its original formation, Toto is currently on tour, playing sold out shows filled with baby boomers, Generation Xers, and millennials alike.
“This came out of nowhere,” Lukather said. “Our concerts are sold out, we have fun, I have a book coming out next month. It is good to us now. You know, who knew that this would happen to us at this point, so we are actually quite grateful about it.
“I would never bet on,” he added.
This article originally appeared on Page Six.