The internet giveth and the internet taketh away.
Late last May, a 14-year-old Twitter user created an account dedicated to getting Weezer, now uniquely divisive in this stage of their career, to cover “Africa,” Toto’s 1982 hit and a resurging meme in the same lineage of Smash Mouth’s “All-Star” and Owl City’s “Fireflies.” Now, eight months later, the cultural tides have shifted. “Africa” has been viciously chewed up and spit out by the merciless internet machine, largely due to the outrageous popularity that accompanied Weezer’s studio cover. The song peaked number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, the band’s first number one hit since 2007’s “Pork and Beans.” The band closed shows with it, made a bizarre, self-referential music video starring Weird Al for it, and even teased the song’s release with a superior cover of another Toto single, “Rosanna.”
In less than a year, “Africa” became the sort of meme your family would recognize or bring up in casual conversation, essentially nullifying the status it once held and finalizing its new residence in the lexicon’s void.
Toto drummer Steve Porcaro told KROQ, “You know, we listened to ‘Beverly Hills.’ I wanted to maybe even do a real ‘Africa’-type version of that, I was thinking about for a minute. But you know what? We wanted to make it different, but we wanted to do something rock ‘n’ roll. I wanted to show everyone what a good rock ‘n’ roll band we can be. I love the band. I love their music. [Lead singer] Joseph [Williams] and I were listening to different ones trying to figure out which ones he’d like to sing and we settled on ‘Hash Pipe.’”
Weezer have hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart with their cover of “Africa.” Their version of the Toto classic, in at No. 89, is their highest charting song since “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” reached No. 81 in 2009.
“This other album just kind of materialised,” he said. “I had two folders on my Dropbox: one was ‘The Black Album’, and it didn’t get filled as quickly as this other folder, which I temporarily titled ‘New Folder’. That one filled up with ten songs that were definitely different, but not quite as different as The Black Album. So, we put a name on it – Pacific Daydream – and put that out first.”