Take on me, A-Ha’s One Hit Wonder

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“Take on Me” is a song by the Norwegian pop group, A-ha. Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, Magne Furuholmen and Morten Harket composed the first version and Tony Mansfield handled production. In addition to synthesizers, it features varied instrumentation, including acoustic guitar, keyboards, and drums. It was originally released as a single for Europe in 1984, without including it on any album, and it had a low-key commercial reception. Alan Tarney produced a second version, mixed by Tony Mansfield and included on the group’s debut album, Hunting High and Low, in April 1985. Although the second version had more sales than the first, it was not very popular on the charts either.

However, a third and final release in September 1985, accompanied by a video, increased the band’s sales and popularity. It reached number one on the charts in the United States, Norway and twelve other countries and number two in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan.

The video shows the band members depicted in pencil-drawn animations – a technique known as a rotoscope – and also features scenes filmed live. Additionally, it won six awards and was nominated in two categories at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards ceremony. Thanks to the single, according to PopMatters, a-ha is considered a one-hit wonder, and the VH1 television network ranked it third in the 100 best one-hit wonders of the 80’s. At the 2009 Spellemannprisen Awards Gala, “Take on Me” was recognized as the best Norwegian hit of the last fifty years.

The video has a fantastic plot and deals with a romantic relationship, beginning with a montage of pencil drawings, belonging to a comic strip, representing a motorcycle race where the main character, played by Harket, participates with two other competitors. Then you can see a scene in a cafe, where a young woman played by Bunty Bailey, then Harket’s girlfriend, drinks from a cup while reading.

As you go, the waitress brings you the bill; at that moment, the protagonist, after winning, winks at him. His animated hand comes out of the magazine, with the intention of inviting her to that place. Once inside, she also appears as a pencil-drawn animation and he sings to her.

Meanwhile, back at the cafe, the waitress returns for the young woman but no longer finds her; Due to this, he throws the cartoon into a trash can, causing Harket’s two competitors to reappear armed with a tap wrench to attack him. Harket hits one of them and takes refuge with the girl in a paper ball. When they are cornered, Harket makes a hole in the paper wall so that she can escape, while a tap key appears in front of him. Once back in the real world, and after appearing right next to the trash can to the surprise of the cafe’s diners, he takes the cartoon from the trash can and goes home, where he tries to verify what happened next in the motorcyclist’s story.

In the next frame, Harket appears lifeless to the naked eye, so the young woman begins to cry, but suddenly gets up and tries to leave the publication. At that moment, his image appears in the hall of the house with one part of him animated and the other in real image, while he tries to free himself from the cartoon. In the end, he escapes from that world and becomes a human being, he smiles at the young woman, who walks towards him and they embrace. This last scene is based on the science fiction film Altered States (1980).

And do you remember this great theme? What do you think about it? As always we leave you the link so you can relive it! :

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