Plays: 5

“Take On Me” by a-ha

(Words/Music: Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket, Pål Waaktaar, Album: Hunting High and Low, Warner Bros. 1985)

On January 3, 2010, I have seen list upon list about the first decade of the 21st century. Predictably, these served to create smiles, laughs, and some heartbreak and this nostalgia allows me a good opportunity to begin to look more at another decade, the 80s, for Blister in the Sunday. And as i do so, the first song which comes to mind was actually a video. With the resurgence of 80s music (not because it was so good, but because the people who grew up on it are now in charge!), the quintessential 80s song remains “Take On Me” by a-ha. Not only is the song catchy, and the band a one hit wonder (which makes me wonder whether the 80s spawned more one-hit wonders than any other decade), but the video is downright iconic. In a decade that gets blasted for being all style and no substance, it seems appropriate that a band be more known for a video than for a song. My students, who keep reminding me that they weren’t even alive in the 80s, know this video as “that comic book” video (and they still think it’s pretty cool). While my musical tastes in the 80s tended to lean more toward hair and leather, I never complained when this video came on MTV (yes, Virginia, there really were videos on MTV once) and it helped promote the idea that videos were “mini-movies” as opposed to a bunch of people playing a song pseudo-live (think Van Halen’s “Jump”).  However, whenever the song came on the radio, the first thing I envisioned was the video. Seems I never really paid much attention to the song. Looking up the lyrics, I did notice that the song is about tentative and unrequited love and missed opportunities. When I realized that the singer in the song wants to break through to the object of his affections, the video actually made sense! The song itself is fairly uneventful with fairly bland lyrics and a vocal line which veers occasionally into a falsetto. However, like most 80s one-hit wonders, it does have one particular point that stands out: the keyboards at the end of the instrumental interlude which repeat the intro melody but this time with just a hint of percussion (which have inspired me to play some air- or table-piano I wonder how many times?). While I also wonder whether the band minds being known more for a video than a song, I am certain that they never regret abandoning the first video for this song in favor of the famous one. After all, “It’s no better to safe than sorry.”

More a-ha:

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