Rosanna (song)

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Toto - Rosanna.jpg
Single by Toto
from the album Toto IV
B-side"It's a Feeling"
ReleasedApril 1, 1982
Format7", CD single
GenreSoft rock[1]
Length5:31 (album version)
4:02 (7" & single version)
Songwriter(s)David Paich
Toto singles chronology
"Live for Today"
"Make Believe"
Music video
"Rosanna” on YouTube

"Rosanna" is a song written by David Paich and performed by the American rock band Toto, the opening track and the first single from their 1982 album Toto IV. This song won the Record of the Year Grammy Award in the 1983 presentations. "Rosanna" was also nominated for the Song of the Year award.

The song "Rosanna" peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks, behind two different songs, "Don't You Want Me" by The Human League and "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.[2] It was also one of the band's most successful singles in the UK, peaking at No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart and remaining on the chart for eight weeks.[3]

The B-side of the vinyl single was the song "It's a Feeling", which is also on the album Toto IV.

Composition and lyrics[edit]

The song was written by David Paich, who has said that the song is based on numerous girls he had known. As a joke, the band members initially played along with the common assumption that the song was based on Rosanna Arquette, who was dating Toto keyboard player Steve Porcaro at the time and coincidentally had the same name.[4] Arquette herself played along with the joke, commenting in an interview that the song was about "my showing up at 4 a.m., bringing them juice and beer at their sessions."[5]

In the song's verses, the key is changed from G major to F major, accompanied on the original recording by the lead vocalist changing from Steve Lukather to Bobby Kimball.[6]

The drum pattern is known as a "half-time shuffle", and shows "definite jazz influence",[7] featuring ghost notes and derived from the combination of the Purdie shuffle and the Bo Diddley beat. The Purdie shuffle can be prominently heard on Steely Dan's track "Home at Last" from Aja, which Jeff Porcaro cited as an influence.[8][9]

The overlapping keyboard solos in the middle were created by David Paich and Steve Porcaro recording a multitude of keyboard lines (some of which were cut from the final recording) using a Micro-Composer, a Minimoog, Yamaha CS-80s, Prophets, a Hammond organ, and a GS1, among other instruments.[6] Paich credits Porcaro with both coming up with the concept for the segment and playing a majority of the parts.[6]

The album version starts with the drum beat only then kicks into the rest of the melody, then ends with two singings of the song's chorus and goes into a musical interlude and fades out from there. According to Lukather, this final instrumental section was a spontaneous jam during the recording session: "... the song was supposed to end but Jeff carried on and Dave started playing the honky-tonk piano and we all just followed on."[6]

The single edit goes right into the melody at the beginning, then the song fades out during the first singing of the chorus at the end.

Steve Porcaro and Lukather describe it as "the ultimate Toto track".[10]

Music video[edit]

The video (directed by Steve Barron) is set in a stylized urban streetscape, with Rosanna shown as a dancer whose bright red dress contrasts with her gray surroundings. The band plays within a chain-link fence enclosure. Cynthia Rhodes is featured as the lead dancer Rosanna, which led to her being cast in Staying Alive the following year.[11] It also featured Thomas Guzman-Sanchez of the dance group Chain Reaction as one of the male dancers. He did the Boogaloo/Popping body wave leaping over another dancer.[citation needed] Patrick Swayze can be seen as one of the dancers. Swayze and Rhodes later starred together in the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing. The video uses the album version of the song, instead of the single edit.

Despite not playing on the actual recording, new bassist Mike Porcaro (brother of Jeff and Steve) appears in this video, as original Toto bass player David Hungate left before the video was made. Lenny Castro is also featured with the band as a percussionist.


Guest musicians

Charts and certifications[edit]

Sample usage[edit]

Art of Noise used a one-second sample of "Rosanna" on their 1984 track "Beat Box (Diversion One)," featured on both Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise? and Daft.

In American Horror Story: Coven, Evan Peters character Kyle Spencer is seen singing and dancing to "Rosanna" in a flashback.

"Rosanna" was featured in a 2015 AT&T/DirecTV commercial.

It appears, in heavily edited form, in the 2017 movie CHIPS.[18]

Covers and parodies[edit]

  • Christian parody band ApologetiX parodied the song as "Hosanna" on their album Wise Up and Rock.
  • The Slovenian a cappella group and jazz choir Perpetuum Jazzile performed an a cappella version of the song at their Vokal Xtravaganzza concert in Ljubljana, Slovenia on November 9, 2010, a video of which was uploaded to YouTube on December 30, 2010.[19]
  • In 2018, American rock band Weezer released a cover of the track to poke fun at an attempt by fans to get them to cover "Africa", another song by Toto. Weezer went on to also release a cover of "Africa" five days later.


  1. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum. SpinMedia. May 31, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  3. ^ David Roberts British Hit Singles & Albums, Guinness World Records Limited
  4. ^ Tegnér, Anders. Toto Interview 1988 on YouTube. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  5. ^ Caldwell, Carol (June 9, 1983). "Baby, It's Her". Rolling Stone (397): 17, 19.
  6. ^ a b c d "Toto Encyclopedia: Rosanna". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  7. ^ Strong, Jeff (2006). Drums for Dummies, p.183. ISBN 0-471-79411-2.
  8. ^ "Jeff Porcaro: The Rosanna Shuffle",
  9. ^ "The Rosanna Half Time Shuffle by Jeff Porcaro"
  10. ^ Kaye, Ben (July 30, 2018). "Toto to release cover of Weezer's "Hash Pipe"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  11. ^ "Cynthia Rhodes: Actress, Dancer, & Singer",
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  13. ^ a b c d e "Rosanna" chart history, Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  14. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". 2000-03-16. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  15. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2018 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  16. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". Music Canada.
  17. ^ "American single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  18. ^ "CHIPS (2017) Soundtrack Music - Complete Song List". Tunefind. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  19. ^ Perpetuum Jazzile: Rosanna. YouTube. Accessed on September 15, 2012.

External links[edit]