Writer(s): David Paich, Jeff Porcaro (see lyrics here)
First Charted: October 30, 1982
Peak: 11 US, 3 CB, 2 RR, 5 AC, 3 UK, 11 CN, 5 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 1.8 UK, 8.89 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 855.0 video, 1091.21 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
“Africa” was the third single from Album of the Year Grammy winner Toto IV. The lead single, “Rosanna,” was a #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and won the Grammy for Record of the Year. The follow-up, “Make Believe,” was a minor hit, peaking at #30. “Africa,” however, went all the way to the top of the charts and, thanks to a revival in the 2010s, ended up selling over 4 million copies in the United States. In December 2017, a 14-year-old girl launched a viral Twitter campaign to get the band Weezer to record the song. They did – and it gave the band their first Hot 100 hit since 2009. SF
The band’s keyboardist, David Paich, created what became the song’s opening riff when playing around with a new keyboard. Regarding the lyrics, bandmate Jeff Porcaro joked that “a white boy is trying to write 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.” WK Paich said he watched a TV documentary about the suffering in Africa and imagined how he’d feel if he was there. He based the landscape descriptions on a National Geographic article. WK He’s also said the song isn’t about a romance, but a man’s love of a continent. WK
The video was directed by Steve Barron, who would go on to do classics like a-ha’s “Take on Me” and Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing.” Paich is in a library doing research, trying to match a scrap of a picture to the book from which it was torn. His efforts are interspersed with shots of a spinning globe and the band performing. It’s “a very stylized, conceptual video with memorable imagery and an abstract storyline…What’s going on is clearly open to interpretation.” SF
First posted 11/17/2019; last updated 11/7/2021.