Weezer's 'Africa' Cover Is Just More Proof That The Toto Track Is Timeless
The 1982 earworm has been delivered to a new generation of listeners.
Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, the rains have once again been blessed. This morning, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo released a cover of the infamous '80s earworm "Africa" by Toto, once again resurrecting a dead-horse joke that has captivated post-ironic internet persons and cynical nostalgia obsessives for decades.
Cuomo, a divisive figure known partly for his strange sense of humor, is not all to blame here. Since December 2017, there’s been a campaign mounted against him on Twitter, demanding that Weezer cover what the New York Post has referred to as "a millenial frat anthem." Last week, Cuomo acknowledged the account with a brilliantly deadpan response in the form of a cover of Toto’s "Rosanna," which delighted and enraged the proud community of People Who Spend Too Much Time Online.
Heralded by a mysterious account known only as weezer cover africa by toto, it seems the #WeezerCoverAfrica movement will come to a close today. With the extremely sincere vocals and spot-on farty synth horns of the new cover song, I fear the internet may never be the same.
Like the "Rosanna" cover, this is a momentous occasion for our post-ironic culture, because the cover is, well, actually good. Not only does Cuomo nail the joke by serving up a wonderfully produced track with genuine musicality, but he also delivers a rendition of the tune that beats in tandem with the heart of Toto’s uncomfortably emotional classic.
While the synths are updated and the drum beat dons a more modern, pop-punk kick, Weezer’s version boasts the same awkwardly earnest passion of the original work. Listening to the cover arouses the same feelings of delighted confusion, both at the seemingly meaningless poetry of the lyrics and the catchy upper-register yelping of the uproarious chorus. Cuomo may not be seeking to answer any of the decades-long mysteries surrounding Africa—What does it mean to “bless” a rain? Isn't Mt. Kilimanjaro quite far from the Serengeti? And is it racist for a group of white dudes to generalize an entire continent in one vaguely sad song?—but it’s clear that he was hard-set on capturing the spirit of Toto’s masterwork.
Aside from the startling sincerity of the song, part of what’s so captivating about this cover—and of "Africa" by Toto overall—is that, as confusing and objectively mediocre as it may be, the song just seems to stick with you.
Unlike other similarly delightful synth-rock tracks from the era such, Toto's "Africa" seems like an old hurt that just won’t quit. From beloved TV shows such as Master of None and Stranger Things, to a Twitter bot that tweets its lyrics from the song several times a day, the song seems to have captivated a new generation. Just this March, a video uploaded by an ingenious idiot who hacked his Volvo 240's door chime to play the song was viewed over 3.5 million times.
There have been countless think pieces and critical examinations concerned with this puzzling aural virus, an infection of the ear so elemental that it forces you to wonder: If we’re living in a simulation, is "Africa" by Toto the menu screen music?
This inhuman quality is perhaps the major driving force in attracting myself and the post-ironic web community at large to the blessed song. Growing up during the last dying embers of the smooth jazz and muzak era, I find myself, for some reason, magnetized to machine-grown music like a moth to a street lamp.
After spending entire months of my adolescence waggling Wii Motes to the inexplicably enthralling elevator music of Nintendo games such as Wii Sports Resortand Wave Race 64, I think I must have developed a reverence for music that sounds, in a way, programmed in a lab. Humans have a natural ability to detect non-human things, and though Toto's "Africa" is obviously not a procedurally generated video game soundtrack (but rather an original composition by two human musicians, David Paich and Jeff Porcaro), the enigmatic meaning of the song’s lyrics and the implausibly perfect-sounding synth accompaniment makes Toto’s most famous song feel like something out of the uncanny valley.
Another video made the rounds again earlier this year (originally posted in 2013), from the Angel City Chorale of Los Angeles. It shows live concert footage of an enormous group of extremely dedicated, excited baby boomers singing, humming, and clapping the song at a live concert—to which, of course, the internet joyously shared with post-ironic cynicism and meme-addled glee.
This second viral video addresses perhaps the only other convincing explanation for the lasting effect of "Africa": middle-school choir. Did we all sing this song right in the sweet spot of sexual confusion and mid-puberty moodiness? I can’t be the only one who became aware of this song amid the terrifying hormone surge of my early teen years.
I’d thought the millennial generation would be the last surviving victims of the face-hugging sonic xenomorph of Toto’s 1982 smash hit. But with Weezer’s new cover, there may be little hope for future generations, as the alien egg has seemed to be implanted, once again, into the cerebellums of the population at large.
Perhaps future generations' appreciation for the song will be different than ours; maybe they’ll be at a healthy place that is far enough removed from the haunting effect of a melody that it won’t stalk their waking minds or curse their lasting nightmares.
But when Weezer’s cover dropped on the web today, I was immediately reminded of the transfixing quote from Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver: "Loneliness has followed me my whole life, everywhere. In bars, in cars, sidewalks, stores, everywhere. There's no escape. I'm God's lonely man."
Toto's "Africa" has absorbed us again. We’re a part of it now.
From: Esquire US