The 1980s new wave/pop music scene was filled with memorable one-hit wonders, maybe more so than any other era in pop music history. And a lot of these songs are still being heard today–I mean, in how many different commercials have you heard Modern English’s “I Melt With You“? And if I never see another movie trailer with Katrina and the Waves’ “Walking on Sunshine” again in my life, it’ll be too soon.
But quite possibly the reigning kings of ’80s one-hit-wonders have to be Norwegian pop group A-ha, with their 1985 hit “Take on Me.” The song was catchy as hell, but it was the then-state-of-the-art music video, which used rotoscoping technology with a mixture of live action and animation, that propelled the single to such great heights. The video tells the story of a young woman who reads a black and white comic book one night in a diner, and falls in love with the comics’ main character, played by A-ha singer Morten Harket, and gets magically sucked into his comic book world.
Back in 1985, you couldn’t get away from this song or the video, which seemed to be on constant rotation on MTV and Top 40 radio. For whatever the reason, A-ha never scored another big hit in the United States, despite remaining a huge band in Europe. They released a second single in the States, “The Sun Always Shines On TV,” but it never got the same traction, and ever-fickle American audiences moved on. Nevertheless, all these years later, “Take On Me” still lingers on.
Now some thirty years later, A-ha has released a CD/DVD reissue of Hunting High and Low, the album that contained their huge hit, along with previously unreleased outtakes, mixes, demos, and an alternate cut of the video for “Take on Me.” There are really only subtle differences between the final version of the video and this alternate one, like the early focus on the man with the wrench, and some differences between the audio mix towards the end of the song, but the eagle-eyed fan will be able to spot them.
The DVD also includes the original video, and an earlier 1984 version, which features yet another mix of the song and the band playing in front of a blue background. You can watch the alternate version of the classic video above, and then just try and not have the song stuck in your head for the rest of the day; you’ll be singing that high falsetto note from “Take on Me” in the the shower later, I guarantee it.
HT: Rolling Stone