Rosanna (song)

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Toto - Rosanna.jpg
Single by Toto
from the album Toto IV
B-side"It's a Feeling"
ReleasedMarch 31, 1982 (US) [1]
GenreSoft rock[2]
Length5:31 (album/video version)
3:59 (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 Grammy Award for Record of the Year at the 1983 ceremony. "Rosanna" was also nominated for the Song of the Year award. It is regarded for drummer Jeff Porcaro's half-time shuffle, commonly known as the "Rosanna shuffle".

The song reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks, behind "Don't You Want Me" by The Human League and "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor.[3] 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.[4]

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. 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 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, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham's shuffle on "Fool in the Rain", 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 renditions 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 West Side Story-inspired video was directed by Steve Barron and set in a stylized urban streetscape, with Rosanna represented by a dancer whose bright red dress contrasts with the 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]

Despite not playing on the actual recording, new bassist Mike Porcaro (brother of Jeff and Steve) appears in the 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.[citation needed]


Guest musicians

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weezer cover[edit]

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.[21] Weezer went on to release a cover of "Africa" five days later.


  1. ^ "Rosanna discography".
  2. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum. SpinMedia. May 31, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  4. ^ David Roberts British Hit Singles & Albums, Guinness World Records Limited
  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. ^ "Talent in Action : Top Pop Singles". Billboard. 94 (51): TIA-20. December 25, 1982.
  16. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  17. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2018 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association.
  18. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". Music Canada.
  19. ^ "British single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  20. ^ "American single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". Recording Industry Association of America.
  21. ^ "Weezer Cover Toto's Cheeseball '80s Hit "Rosanna" -- Listen". Stereogum. 2018-05-24. Retrieved 2019-10-22.

External links[edit]