A-Ha, the synthpop group from Oslo, Norway, achieved brief popularity in the 80’s music era with “Take On Me” in 1985. The 3-piece band comprised of Magne Furuholmen, Pål Waaktaar and Morten Harket and founded in 1982. They reached the peak of popularity upon releasing the single “Take On Me,” the carrier single from the album Hunting High and Low. The song surprisingly topped the Billboard chart and in the UK, it registered on #2. Their second single “The Sun Always Shine on Me” charted at #1 in the UK and stalled at #20 in the US. A number of singles were released but lacking of further chart action, giving A-Ha the tag of being a one-hit wonder.
Early days of A-Ha
Originated from Oslo, Norway, A-ha are a Norwegian synthpop band formed in 1982 rounded off by Morten Harket (lead vocalist), Pål Waaktaar-Savoy (guitarist) and Magne Furuholmen (keyboardist). Waaktaaer and Furuholmen were once a duo called Bridges and later, Harket joined the two. As young, aspiring musicians, they flew to London to try their luck in the music business.
A-Ha’s signature hit, “Take On Me and other releases
Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar’s Bridges did the early version of “Take On Me” which during that time, was called “The Juicy Fruit Song.” Upon adding Harket as the new member, they changed the title once again to “Lesson One” and ended up with “Take On Me” that would later become a transatlantic hit in 1985. Their first single was a sudden success in the UK, peaking at #2 while was a bigger hit in the US, placing at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was included on A-Ha’s debut album Hunting High and Low (1985).
The animation technique called rotoscoping was applied in the “Take On Me’s music video. It became really appealing to the MTV audience, resulting a big factor to the song’s success. In the video, the band was featured as moving pencil sketches from a comic book which was quite innovative and a “new thing” by that time.
The next single, “The Sun Always Shines on TV” was A-Ha’s second and last Billboard hit which was placed at #20 in but it was a bigger in the UK, peaking at #1 in the UK Singles chart in late 1985. A couple follow-up lesser hit singles managed to enter the Billboard Hot 100: “Cry Wolf” (1986) on #50 and “Dark is the Night for All” (1993) on #111. However, most of their singles did extremely well back in the UK.
In 1990, A-Ha recorded their own version of the Everly Brothers’ original “Crying in the Rain” which was also included from their fourth album East of the Sun, West of the Moon. The song did not gain attention because of the flourishing dance and britpop scene. Nevertheless, they continued to perform and release numerous records in the 2000s that most of which did very successful in Europe. Celebrating their 20th anniversary, A-Ha released the album Singles 1984-2004 in 2004. A yea later, they were one of the performers at Live8 held in Berlin. After releasing the band’s two albums Analogue (2006) and Foot of the Mountain (2009), A-ha declared the band’s retirement. But in 2015, they returned in the recording studio and issued their latest album Cast in Steel and embarked on a world tour.