Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey, Careless Whisper by Wham and In the Air Tonight by Phil Collins are mega hits from the 80s that still hold up today, especially in Kelowna.
However, if you’re turning the tuning dial, there’s one song that you’ll almost surely hear once a day: Africa by Toto.
“It’s considered one of the top songs in our formats,” program director for 103.1 Beach Radio, Russell James, said. “In Kelowna, you’re probably going to hear at least three stations playing it.”
103.1 Beach Radio’s research shows that Africa by Toto is just one of about 15 songs that match well with their target demographic, according to James, and it gets played on their station about eight to 10 times a week.
“All these songs went through a cycle where they weren’t cool for a minute. There was a point in time where you would make fun of these songs,” James said, laughing about how his children aren’t big fans of Wham’s Careless Whisper classic. “I grew up with that record. It was cool back in the day.”
Africa came out in 1982 as a soft rock mega-hit from Los Angeles based band, Toto.
Lead singer David Paich recently told the Guardian in a 2018 interview that it was as if a “higher power was writing through (him) because this stuff was coming out like magic.”
When Paich was a young lad, attending Catholic schools where many teachers travelled to Africa for missionary work, he said that they used to tell him how they would bless crops, Bibles, books and … rain.
“That’s where the hook line — “I bless the rains down in Africa” — came from,” he told the Guardian.
Steve Lukather, Toto guitarist, claimed he said he would run naked down Hollywood Boulevard if the song became a hit. “Dave (Paich), man, Africa? We’re from north Hollywood. ‘I bless the rains down in Africa?’ Are you Jesus, Dave?” Lukather said to Dave Simpson of the Guardian.
When the song made it big in the continent it was named after, Paich told Simpson that people were coming up to him and telling him that he wrote a beautiful representation of what Africa is like, even without never having visited.
Africa hit the Billboard Top 100 chart’s peak on Feb. 5, 1983 where it was the number one song for one week; following closely was Down Under by Men at Work and Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye.
For younger generations, the song’s attraction seems to be more humorous than anything else.
In a recent Billboard article, published in early 2018, they deemed Africa to be the biggest 80s hit that still lives on in the 21st century. Namely, by becoming one of the “decade’s most meme-able songs.”
“It’s hard to explain exactly why Toto’s chart-topping smash has enjoyed such an incredible Internet renaissance 35 years after its release, but it’s downright impossible to resist the song’s unadulterated pleasures,” the article reads.
Whether people are listening to it for kicks, nostalgia or because it is genuinely their favourite song, it looks like Africa by Toto has plenty of radio airplay left, reminding us all that mullets and weaves were cool once.
Will anything be able to dethrone it?
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
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