Monday, July 6, 2020

Musical Monday - Africa by Toto

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: The week of February 5, 1983.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Never.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

A piece of personal trivia: When this song was released I was, in fact, living in Africa, and had been for a couple of years. I have been to or seen pretty much all of the physical landmarks mentioned in the song such as Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, although my favorite places I visited were actually the Ngorongoro Crafter and Olduvai Gorge.

I think it kind of goes without saying that when I was a thirteen year-old living in Zaire, this was pretty much a constantly played song among my peer group. The song was about where we were living, and more or less captured the mood of the moment. For a brief instant, Toto was hyped as being the next superstar band that would be churning out hits for a decade.

When you get down to it though, this is kind of a problematic song and video. A bunch of white guys singing about blessing the rains down in Africa coupled with a video about a white dude in a library hunting for the rest of a torn picture of a piece of a "native" shield. Throw in a black woman as his librarian backdrop and a faceless black "tribal warrior" as a kind of antagonist and the end result is just kind of creepy in so many different vectors.

Previous Musical Monday: Down Under by Men at Work
Subsequent Musical Monday: Too Shy by Kajagoogoo

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Down Under by Men at Work
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Baby, Come to Me by Patti Austin and James Ingram

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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