Watch “Weird Al” Yankovic Join Weezer to Cover Toto’s ‘Africa’
Thirty-five years ago, Los Angeles-based rock band Toto scored their first—and only—number one Billboard hit with the cheesy-but-beloved pop anthem “Africa.” But the song regained its chart-topping status earlier this year when Weezer released their own version of the ‘80s classic, which ended up becoming the alt-rock band’s biggest hit in a decade.
They’ve been performing the song live in the months since, but Rivers Cuomo and company just upped the “Africa” ante by inviting “Weird Al” Yankovic and his legendary accordion skills to shred alongside them as they covered the song on Wednesday night at The Forum in Los Angeles. You can watch the performance below. (The whole video is worth a look, but “Weird Al” comes in around the 2:42 mark.)
In the decades since Toto first released “Africa,” everyone from Ninja Sex Party to Wiz Khalifa has either sampled or covered the yacht rock tune. It’s also been played at countless weddings and featured on the soundtracks of dozens of movies and television series. But it took popping up on Stranger Things for Weezer to bring their version to the table. Inspired by its inclusion in Netflix’s ode-to-everything-‘80s, a teenage fan of the series—and Weezer—started a #WeezerCoverAfrica Twitter campaign that gained some serious traction. Now, the tune has become part of the band’s regular repertoire.
Amazingly, “Africa” is a song that almost never was. In a recent interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro admitted that the tune “almost didn’t make the album [Toto IV]. If you look, it was totally buried [on the tracklisting]. It’s the last song—on the vinyl, the last cut of side two. You don’t put your only No. 1 single on the last cut of side two! So it’s been this weird anomaly to begin with.”
Porcaro also had some thoughts on how Weezer might have painted themselves into a musical corner with their cover. “Maybe it was just my imagination, but I thought maybe on Rivers Cuomo’s face, there was an expression like, ‘Oh s***, I might have to play this the rest of my life,’” he told Yahoo! Entertainment.
In July, Toto—who are in the midst of a 40th anniversary tour—showed their appreciation to Weezer by offering up a cover of “Hash Pipe.” As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, it’s spot-on.