This is epic. Toto’s Africa is a grandiose rock song. In an article on the massive popularity of Africa on the internet, Vice commented in November 2022: “Somehow, this cheesy, emotional tune, which turns 35 this year, inspires unironic, almost undivided adoration across the web”. Later in the article, Vice comments, “The song’s popularity is aided by the fact that it’s actually a very well-crafted piece of music, with driving drum loops, layered harmonies, and an anthemic chorus.”
Vice suggests that the difficulty in making out the lyrics, and the fact that they are a bit nonsensical, probably enhances the song’s broad appeal. The song is also grandiose in another way. David Paich, the main songwriter, has said that “the song is about a man’s love of a continent, Africa, rather than just a personal romance”. He was inspired by “a late night documentary with depictions of African plight and suffering” without having been to Africa. Now imagine 18 000 strangers singing it:
The 18 000 people comprised Pub Choir. As you’ve seen, the video was recorded in venues around Australia and edited together. In all, the Pub Choir project recorded 18 812 people singing and 37 musical guests (including a man with a bullwhip) in 15 cities. The founder and director of Pub Choir is singer, conductor, and composer Astrid Jorgensen. Born in New Zealand, she emigrated to Australia in 1998. She has a Master of Music Studies (Vocal Performance) from Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
Pub Choir was founded in 2017 in Brisbane, where Jorgensen lives. The underlying idea is fairly simple, and not very different from British musician Bill Drummond’s “17” project. At Pub Choir events, Jorgensen teaches a well-known song in 3-part harmony to non-trained singers. The performance is filmed and posted on the net. In November 2017, the Pub Choir’s Zombie (The Cranberries) went viral, which raised its profile considerably. Here is a fun Pub Choir version of Running Up That Hill:
Running Up That Hill is by Kate Bush (obviously). It’s not the easiest song to master but the Pub Choir does a fine job considering the singers are amateurs.
It’s not about perfection, it’s about taking pleasure in music. This is extracted from the Pub Choir’s “About” statement on its webpage. “Everybody can sing. Like, not well, but literally. Singing is good for you, it’s EASY, and Pub Choir is here to show you how. With a show that is equal parts music, comedy, and beer, Pub Choir transforms a crowd of tipsy strangers into a legendary choir. Don’t prepare anything! You simply need to open your sound hole (your mouth FYI). Pub Choir will do the rest”.
If you live in Australia, or are planning a visit to Australia, you might want to take a look at the Pub Choir website, where you can book to attend an event. There are worse ways to spend an evening. If you would like to see more from Pub Choir, you can subscribe to their YouTube channel or follow them on Facebook or Instagram. You can also visit their official website for more information.