Via Atlantic Records
Weezer released a cover of Toto‘s 1982 “Africa” on Tuesday. This came after a nearly six-month campaign by a 14-year-old girl‘s fan account on Twitter pointedly devoted to the cause. It’s an unsurprising way for a song to come about in a post-Carly-Rae-Jepson and the-Internet-mashes-with-popular-everything era. No questions why any one person would want this cover to happen or how a whim could come to fruition here – all bets are off and “extra” is really not a thing on social media, let’s be honest.
What is more difficult to pinpoint is the exact emotion this cover brings up. Let’s start with Toto, a band formed in Los Angeles in the mid-seventies with a massive catalog (thirteen studio albums) and surprisingly substantial street cred in the rock world, with credits on albums by Michael Jackson (on Thriller, no less), Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan, and more. Though someone of the younger variety might think of them only a band who provided the soundtrack to Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard’s African vacation, Toto’s top songs far more ubiquitously slipped into the American psyche than one might think.
Toto’s music and lyrics tug at something Amanda Petrusich calls “sort of romantic, in the fantastical way that grips us late at night, when we are feeling unmoored and lonesome.” As Jia Tolentino puts it, if you’re “like most people, (you) have an irrationally strong reaction to “Africa” to begin with: the pure, vamping hope of the verses, the key change before the chorus, which is a ridiculously earnest monument to pop catharsis.” Take merely the existence of this video as a testament: we all feel whatever “it” is.
So what’s the next logical step after we’ve danced it out with a cute Hollywood couple and played it longingly in an empty mall? Leave it to a 14-year-old to beg Weezer to cover it, of course. Here is another Los Angeles-formed band that suffuses feelings of nostalgia and subtle longing who’ve already proven they do justice when covering Toto (see recently released “Rosanna“). Who knows if the fact that it’s an incredibly satisfying four minutes has more to do with Toto’s lyrically and structurally perennial pop foundation or River Cuomo’s ability to marry the deeply earnest and the cleverly lighthearted. All we know is, down here, we’re feeling blessed by it all.