Rosanna (song)

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Single by Toto
from the album Toto IV
B-side"It's a Feeling"
  • March 31, 1982 (U.S.)[1]
  • April 16, 1982 (U.K.)[2]
  • 5:31 (album and 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 the half-time shuffle which drummer Jeff Porcaro developed for the song. The groove has become an important staple of drum repertoire and is commonly known as the "Rosanna shuffle".

The song reached number two 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.[6] 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.[7]

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. 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".[8]

However, in Steve Lukather's book, "The Gospel According to Luke," Lukather states undeniably that the song was indeed about Arquette. Even going as far as to say that at one point Arquette finally relented and admitted the song was about her.

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.[9]

The drum pattern is known as a "half-time shuffle", and shows "definite jazz influence",[10] 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.[11][12]

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.[9] Paich credits Porcaro with both coming up with the concept for the segment and playing a majority of the parts.[9] 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".[9] 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".[13] Cash Box said that it "is a varied palette of pleasing pop shades".[14] Billboard said "The arrangement is more complex than anything Toto's known for, mixing rock power chords with softer passages".[15]

Classic Rock History critic Brian Kachejian rated it as Toto's greatest song, saying that it was "Easily one of the 1980's best singles".[16]

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.[17] Patrick Swayze was also uncredited as a dancer in the music video and he and Rhodes would both star in the movie Dirty Dancing.[18]

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.[19]


Adapted from album's liner notes.[20]


Additional personnel


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1982–1983) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[21] 16
Austrian Top 40[22] 11
Belgian Radio 2 Top 30 22
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 7
Canadian RPM Top Singles 4
Dutch Top 40 3
TROS Europarade 20
French Singles Chart 46
German Singles Chart[22] 24
Irish Singles Chart 11
Italian Singles Chart 12
New Zealand Singles Chart[22] 22
Norwegian Singles Chart[22] 2
South African Singles Chart 3
Spanish Radio Chart 31
Swiss Singles Chart[22] 3
U.K. Singles Chart[23] 12
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 17
U.S. Billboard Top Rock Tracks 8

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1982) Rank
Australia (Kent Music Report)[24] 74
Canadian RPM Top Singles 27
Dutch Top 40 31
Italian Singles Chart 30
South African Singles Chart 15
US Top Pop Singles (Billboard)[25] 14

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[26] Gold 35,000
Canada (Music Canada)[27] Gold 50,000^
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[28] Gold 45,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[29] Silver 200,000
United States (RIAA)[30] Platinum 1,000,000

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

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

In popular culture[edit]

The song is featured in the season four episode of The Middle titled "The Hose".[citation needed]


  1. ^ "RIAA certifications". Recording Industry Association of America.
  2. ^ "Rosanna discography".
  3. ^ Schmitt, Al; Droney, Maureen (2018). Al Schmitt - On the Record: The Magic Behind the Music. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 118. ISBN 9781538137666.
  4. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum. SpinMedia. May 31, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  5. ^ Molanphy, Chris (July 31, 2021). "What a Fool Believes Edition". Hit Parade | Music History and Music Trivia (Podcast). Slate. Retrieved February 23, 2024.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications)
  7. ^ David Roberts British Hit Singles & Albums, Guinness World Records Limited
  8. ^ Caldwell, Carol (June 9, 1983). "Baby, It's Her". Rolling Stone. No. 397. pp. 17, 19.
  9. ^ a b c d "Toto Encyclopedia: Rosanna". Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  10. ^ Strong, Jeff (2006). Drums for Dummies, p.183. ISBN 0-471-79411-2.
  11. ^ "Jeff Porcaro: The Rosanna Shuffle",
  12. ^ "The Rosanna Half Time Shuffle by Jeff Porcaro"
  13. ^ Kaye, Ben (July 30, 2018). "Toto to release cover of Weezer's "Hash Pipe"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved July 30, 2018.
  14. ^ "Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. April 10, 1982. p. 8. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  15. ^ "Top Single Picks". Billboard. April 10, 1982. p. 74. Retrieved January 21, 2023.
  16. ^ Kachejian, Brian. "Top 10 Toto songs". Classic Rock History. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
  17. ^ "Cynthia Rhodes: Actress, Dancer, & Singer",
  18. ^ ""Dirty Dancing - Trivia" (1987) at IMDB". IMDb.
  19. ^ "Toto - Rosanna (Official HD Video)". YouTube. Toto. Retrieved December 15, 2023.
  20. ^ Toto IV (booklet). Columbia. 1982.
  21. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  22. ^ a b c d e "Rosanna" chart history, Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  23. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". March 16, 2000. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  24. ^ "National Top 100 Singles for 1982". Kent Music Report. January 3, 1983. Retrieved January 22, 2023 – via Imgur.
  25. ^ "Talent in Action : Top Pop Singles". Billboard. Vol. 94, no. 51. December 25, 1982. p. TIA-20.
  26. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2018 Singles" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association.
  27. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". Music Canada.
  28. ^ "Danish single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". IFPI Danmark. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  29. ^ "British single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved January 18, 2021.
  30. ^ "American single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". Recording Industry Association of America.
  31. ^ "Weezer Cover Toto's Cheeseball '80s Hit "Rosanna" -- Listen". Stereogum. May 24, 2018. Retrieved October 22, 2019.

External links[edit]