Namibian-German artist Max Siedentopf set up an installation of six speakers that play Africa by Toto on an infinite loop in an undisclosed spot
Somewhere amid the sand dunes of the world’s oldest desert croons a soft voice: “It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you.”
The voice belongs to the American band Toto, whose hit song Africa has been indefinitely tethered to an undisclosed spot in the Namib coastal desert thanks to Namibian-German artist Max Siedentopf.
The artist set up an installation called Toto Forever made up of six speakers attached to a blue MP3 player – whose only song is Africa set to play on an infinite loop – all standing atop white rectangular blocks set up in the sand. The installation, Siedentopf writes on his website, runs on solar batteries “to keep Toto going for all eternity”.
The song was released in 1982, but it has been dubbed “the internet’s favorite song” with hundreds of thousands of fans across the web. The music video has 442m views on YouTube, while Spotify said that Africa plays doubled in 2018 compared with the previous year. A bot on Twitter that is dedicated to tweeting out the song’s lyrics has well over 50,000 followers. Weezer made a cover of the song last year, and Pitbull’s sampling of the song was featured on the Aquaman soundtrack. Even scientists have joked it is the best song ever made.
Though Africa is named after the continent, the song has turned more into a soothing anthem for Americans that speaks to the ideals of Africa. Jeff Porcaro, the late co-writer of the song and drummer for Toto, described the idea of the song as “a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past”.
Siedentopf said he considers the tribute worthwhile because Toto has “made a song that is understood and liked all over the world”, he wrote to the Guardian. He considers any reaction to the installation, even negative ones, a compliment.
“If no one hates it, no one will love it,” Siedentopf wrote. “I think having the worst sound installation is more interesting than just a mediocre installation.”
The artist has included a rather unhelpful map on his website, which has the entire 1,200-mile Namib desert circled in red that indicates the location of the installation. Siedentopf seems to have purposely made it hard to find – for fans and authorities alike.
“I’m not too worried that someone will put it in jeopardy,” Siedentopf wrote. “Finding it might take some time.”
True fans may just have to listen for the voice of Toto to find the installation in the vast desert. Hurry, boy, she’s waiting there for you.