Weezer's Cover of 'Africa'
I have no shame in admitting I once cried listening to Toto’s iconic hit ‘Africa’. It played back in Year Ten on the DF of a close friend’s party, I was overcome with emotion, to the point where I just couldn’t contain it. It’s the weirdest (and possibly only?) continental tribute out there, and yet it bangs harder than anything on the charts right now. The combination of swelling drums, random AF lyrics, and great 80’s synths make for a truly phenomenal, and oddly emotional, listening experience.
So when Weezer did a cover of Toto’s Africa, it’s no surprise that the song it topped charts on iTunes and Spotify (and maybe Tidal?). It was the answer to all our angsty ‘90’s kids’ dreams.
Quite frankly, Toto needs no explanation. If you haven’t heard ‘Africa’, you’re dead to me. But you might not know Weezer: they’ve been producing some of the best post-grunge-pop-rock-indie music out there, from iconic hits like ‘Island in the Sun’ (um, the DF at your Year 6 Disco went off) and ‘Beverly Hills’. And much like other 90’s success stories like Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, Weezer’s kept a deeply loyal (albeit, smaller) fan base who now just want to bless the rains in Africa.
The quest for a cover all started back in December, when Mary, a 14-year old from Cleveland, started the twitter account @WeezerAfrica, from which she tweeted regularly at the band in an effort to convince them to cover the Toto track. And a few days ago, Mary’s hard tweeting work paid off. Weezer first teased crowds by covering Toto’s “Rosanna” making us all think that in a world where Donald Trump is president and R. Kelly still has a music career, something good could possibly happen. Then it came: Weezer dropped their instantly unforgettable cover, and it shocked me to my core. Swapping out that weird flute for a fantastic use of synths in the bridge, Weezer stays true to the original while giving it a breath (or wheeze) of fresh air. Frontman Rivers Cuomo’s vocals work perfectly alongside the original, sounding clean and crisp with a dash of that Californian rasp. Huge points to his ability to let the massive instrumental be the centre of attention in the chorus – it keeps the band’s cover feeling like it’s one of their originals.
Weezer’s cover has just edged out Toto, in my books. Without compromising on their authenticity, Weezer pays tribute to a truly beautiful one-hit-wonder. Sure, Weezer x ‘Africa’ isn’t the tribute anyone thought they wanted. But it’s definitely the one we needed.