Toto, “2 Hearts” from Kingdom of Desire (1992): Toto Tuesdays

Share this:

Part of what makes Toto so enjoyable is that the whole is indeed greater than the sum of the parts. On 1992’s Kingdom of Desire, that is especially clear given that each song on the album is credited to either “Toto” or to “Toto” and an outside songwriter or two.

Much like the rest of this project, “2 Hearts” is both distinctly Toto and distinctly different from anything else the band had ever recorded before – or has recorded since, for that matter. Jeff Porcaro opens the song with thunderous drums, followed shortly thereafter by the rest of the band. They play so tightly it’s as if they’re a single unit, before Steve Lukather’s vocals come in about 35 seconds into the song.

With Toto’s music, there’s always been a cohesiveness, but — for whatever reason — that cohesiveness feels amplified on Kingdom of Desire. This song is no exception to that. As the first of three ballads on the album, “2 Hearts” immediately jumps out, making a statement that while this is still distinctly Toto, it’s not the Toto that listeners had come to know or might have expected.

This track still has Steve Lukather’s soulful vocals and it still has Toto’s tight musicianship, but “2 Hearts” also boasts an edge to it that runs as a stark contrast to the polish of their more pop-friendly ’80s ballads like “I Won’t Hold You Back,” “How Does It Feel,” or “I’ll Be Over You.”

“2 Hearts” was inspired by a British girl Luke was dating at the time; he co-wrote it with David Paich. Perhaps what jumps out the most is Lukather’s guitar playing. His rhythm work is soft and gentle, but his lead work and his solos are an emotional and, at times, plaintive wail. The music is a reflection of the conflict described in the lyrics; specifically, the lead guitar conveys a desire to stay together and work things out, while the rhythm guitar speaks to what the relationship was prior to the conflict outlined in the lyrics.

As always, there’s an emotional honesty in not only Steve Lukather’s lyrics but also in his vocal delivery. When he sings, it’s as if he is feeling those emotions for the first time all over again, making the song much more relatable than it might otherwise be. And perhaps what has made Lukather Toto’s go-to balladeer is his knack for crafting ballads that are so relatable. As a listener one not only hears the words, but feels them as if they’re experiencing those feelings, as well.

That tends to be consistent with every Toto ballad featuring Steve Lukather on lead vocals, but the emotional honesty here just feels more palpable due to the rawness that permeates Kingdom of Desire. Scratch away some of Toto’s patented polish, and songs like “2 Hearts” are scars that become far more exposed, tapping into the nerve of an open wound.


Toto Tuesdays is a song-by-song feature that explores the band’s rich musical history. They returned with three new songs on 2018’s ’40 Trips Around the Sun.’

Perplexio

Perplexio

Perplexio also maintains a stand-alone blog called The Review Revue, where he explores music, movies and books. He spearheaded 'Saturdays in the Park,' our weekly multi-writer, song-by-song series focused on the music of Chicago. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Perplexio
Share this:
Close