Rosanna (song)

"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.

Toto - Rosanna
Single by Toto
from the album Toto IV
B-side "It's a Feeling"
Released April 1, 1982
Format 7", CD single
Recorded 1982
Genre Soft rock[1]
Length 5:31
4:02 (7" version)
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) David Paich
Producer(s) Toto
Toto singles chronology
"Live for Today"
"Make Believe"
"Live for Today"
"Make Believe"

Composition and lyrics

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]

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 Steve 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.

Music video

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.[9] 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. A young Patrick Swayze can be seen as one of the dancers. Swayze and Rhodes later starred together in the 1987 movie, Dirty Dancing.

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

Weekly charts

Chart (1982/1983) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[10] 16
Austrian Top 40[11] 11
Belgian Singles Chart 22
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 7
Canadian RPM Top Singles 4
Dutch Singles Chart 3
Europarade 20
French Singles Chart 46
German Singles Chart[11] 24
Irish Singles Chart 11
Italian Singles Chart 13
New Zealand Singles Chart[11] 22
Norwegian Singles Chart[11] 2
South African Singles Chart 3
Spanish Radio Chart 31
Swiss Singles Chart[11] 3
U.K. Singles Chart[12] 12
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 2
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 17
U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks 8

Year-end charts

Chart (1982) Rank
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 14
South African Singles Chart 15
Canadian RPM Top Singles 27
Italian Singles Chart 30
Dutch Top 40 31
Australian Kent Music Report 74

Sales and certifications

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[13] Gold 50,000^
United States (RIAA)[14] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Sample usage

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.

Covers and parodies

  • 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.[15]
  • 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. ^ "Cynthia Rhodes: Actress, Dancer, & Singer",
  10. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Rosanna" chart history, Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  12. ^ "UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". 2000-03-16. Retrieved 2016-11-14.
  13. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". Music Canada.
  14. ^ "American single certifications – Toto – Rosanna". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  15. ^ Perpetuum Jazzile: Rosanna. YouTube. Accessed on September 15, 2012.

External links

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