With its shimmering keyboards, gentle percussion grooves and unforgettable chorus, Toto's "Africa" embodies the sound of '80s pop. But the song endures as a cultural phenomenon because its impeccable musicianship set a standard for excellence that modern artists continue to chase. The single was no fluke—that kind of timeless songcraft had been a Toto staple since the group formed in Los Angeles in 1977. That's largely because their members had already worked as session players and songwriters for the likes of Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan, and Seals and Crofts. (They didn’t give up studio work after Toto began, either, lending this same prowess to Michael Jackson's Thriller.) That immersion in summery soft rock is evident on the piano-heavy 1979 single "Georgy Porgy" and the easygoing shuffle of 1982's "Rosanna", while their early hit "Hold the Line" highlights scorching guitar work from founding member Steve Lukather. Such versatility is a hallmark of Toto's vast catalogue—on over a dozen studio albums, the band dabbles in jazz, prog and R&B—and established the group as iconoclasts determined to create trends rather than follow them. That was certainly evident on 2018's Old Is New, which touched on soulful balladry and progressive hard rock, and collaborations with electronic stars Skrillex and What So Not. But still, it’s the more recent "Africa" resurgence—the song received a boost thanks to a Stranger Things appearance, was covered by Weezer and has become a popular meme about “blessing the rains”—that perfectly illustrates how Toto’s talent transcends generations.
ORIGINLos Angeles, CA