Back in 1982, California soft-rockers Toto released their now-iconic tune called “Africa." Little did they know it would not only top the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1983, but it would seize the crown of the internet’s favorite song a full 35 years later.
"'Africa' turns 35 this year, and somehow, this dorky and emotional odball inspires almost undivided adoration across the web," Motherboard declares in an impressively geeked-out tribute post, pointing out how there's an actual website called ibless.therains.downin.africa where the music video loops ad infinitum, and there's even an "Africa" Twitter bot that tweets random lyrics from the song every three hours.
That said, many will agree that “Africa” is much more than just a song. It’s a musical masterpiece that's so wholesome, it makes you feel as if you’ve been kissed by an angel, and makes the bullshit of the world melt away into nothing. If warm, beautiful sunshine could be a sound, it would be “Africa” by Toto.
You're going to want to turn the sound up on this one:
As you can see, "Africa" is basically a lifestyle at this point, and I'm honestly surprised there hasn't been some kind of scientific evaluation on its affective properties yet.
In fact, people love this song so goddamn much that when pop music enthusiast Nick Desideri tweeted his viral "Unifying Theory of Bops" chart last week, countless people wanted to lynch him because he rated “Africa” so low on the chart.
I circled "Africa" in red to emphasize how low it is on the chart, at approximately the 33rd percentile for quality:
“Since ‘Africa’ by Toto is basically a meme at this point I'm not surprised by the widespread dissatisfaction, but I am surprised by the depth of it,” Desideri said, clearly unaware that "Africa" is the unofficial anthem of the internet, and it deserves to be rated a lot higher.
But just why is "Africa" the most beloved song on the internet? What is it about blessing the rains down in Africa that makes us feel so, so good?
“‘Africa’ is a peak 80s tune. It’s so completely of its time,” Executive Digital Director at BMB, an ad agency in London, tells Motherboard.
“‘Africa’ crosses generations. There's a genuine nostalgia of people of my age, and a borrowed nostalgia of younger people. It has that tie-back to your childhood and that makes you feel safe.”
Plus, the song is “actually a very well-crafted piece of music, with driving drum loops, layered harmonies, and an anthemic chorus,” Motherboard points out, outlining how "Africa" has everything it takes to be one of the most melodically pleasing an iconic songs ever.
And even though the lyrics don’t entirely make sense in a cohesive way, they simply make people happy for no apparent reason.
Lastly, if you’ve ever wondered what the lyrics are actually about, here’s a description from Toto’s late drummer, Jeff Porcaro, who co-wrote the song: “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.”
So, basically, it isn’t literally about Africa -- it’s about feeling nostalgia for somewhere you’ve never been.