a-ha

  • Norwegian pop-rock band formed in 1982 from Oslo Norway. Members of the trio were Morten Harket (lead vocals, guitars), Magne Furuholmen (keyboards, guitars, bass guitar, backing vocals, songwriting) and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy (guitars, drums, backing vocals, primary songwriting).
  • Furuholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy were members of a psychedelic rock band named Bridges from 1978 to 1981. An album was released in 1980, financed by the band, with only 1,000 copies produced. By the summer of 1981, a second album was recorded, but the band fell apart before it was released. Furuholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy moved to London, intent on continuing careers in music. After six months and no success, they returned to Norway. Harket had attended a Bridges concert earlier, and he connected with Furuholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy. They liked Harket’s vocal skills, and they agreed to form a trio. When considering a name for the group, they initially wanted something in Norwegian that would be easy for English-speakers to say. Harket discovered a song written by Waaktaar-Savoy named “A-Ha.” The song was terrible, but they liked the name, so they used it for the band.
  • The trio went back to London to record some demos, and they connected with a manager was able to get them signed to a recording contract. One of the demo songs was a version of a song called Miss Eerie that Furuholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy wrote when they were with Bridges. With the help of a producer familiar with electronic instrumentation, the song evolved to a single called Take On Me. It was released in the UK and Norway in 1984, with little success. A second version of the song was recorded and released, along with an ordinary music video – it flopped again. In 1985, the record company decided to invest in a new version of the music video, this time using rotoscoping, an animation technique that uses pencil-sketch animation with live-action filming. In October 1985, Take On Me was released a third time – and it became a mega-hit, thanks to the music video. MTV showed it constantly, and the song topped the Hot 100 chart in the U.S. and reached #2 in the UK. The music video is one of the most famous of all time. It won six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, and it ranks highly on every list of GOAT music videos.
  • Take On Me was included in the group’s debut album, Hunting High and Low, released in 1985. The album reached #15 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and was certified platinum, selling over 11 million copies worldwide. Another single from the album, The Sun Always Shines on T.V., reached #20 on the Hot 100 chart, and it reached #1 in the UK.
  • A-ha run of fame in the U.S. was brief. Their second album, Scoundrel Days, was released in 1986. It was a shift in style, away from synthpop, and more toward alternative rock. The only single from the album to chart in the U.S. was Cry Wolf, which peaked at #50 on the Hot 100 and #14 on the Dance Club Songs chart. Despite their lack of success in the U.S., they remained popular throughout Europe, particularly in the UK and their native Norway.
  • In 1987, they contributed the title track The Living Daylights to the James Bond film of the same name. It was a top ten hit throughout Europe, and it was included on their third studio album, Stay On These Roads, which was released in 1988. The group released albums in 1990 and 1993, with singles that were less successful in Europe. As such, they went on hiatus in 1994, focusing on solo projects.
  • In 1998, they were invited to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, and this led to their return as a group. They released four studio albums from 2000 to 2009, with 14 singles released in Europe, three of which reached #1 in Norway. In 2009, they announced a farewell tour that concluded at the end of 2010. The end of a-ha would last five years – they began to perform again in 2015, and their Cast In Steel album was released that year. They continued to tour, and a new album is due for release in late 2022.
  • Take On Me reached one billion views on YouTube in 2020, one of only 200 or so music videos to achieve such a high number of views. So…here it is. It really is an iconic song of the 80s – thanks to this video.

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