If you were to play word-association with the name 'A-ha', the response would be normally 'Take On Me'. And so exists the unfortunate dilemma for Norways biggest musical export. Morten Harket (lead vocals), Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (guitar, backing vocals) and Magne Furuholmen (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals) formed in 1983, moved from their native country to the UK in search of success and promptly signed with Warner Brother Records. Three good looking lads, a catchy band name and hopefully the music to match - it couldn't fail.
But it so nearly did. Their debut release, 'Take On Me' (originally titled 'Lesson One'), failed to chart twice. Only for the persistence of their record company, the band might have struggled to make the breakthrough. With the assistance of Alan Tarney's production and a ground-breaking pencil-sketch video, 'Take On Me' became one of the most recognised song of the era reaching No 2 in the UK and No 1 in the USA. Surprisingly, the band had even better to offer. Their debut album, "Hunting High and Low" (1985) produced four smash hits across Europe including the ahead-of-its-time 'The Sun Always Shines on TV' and classic ballad 'Hunting High and Low'.
Although marketed as a boy band, the trio knew they were more than that. They wrote their music, played their instruments and in lead singer Harket, they had one of the industries most recognised and talented voices. In a bid to shake the unwanted 'musical bubble-gum' tag, their follow up album "Scoundrel Days" (1986) was darker than their debut. 'I've Been Losing You' was a rockier lead single, and they also delivered hits with 'Cry Wolf' and the poignant and mildly operatic 'Manhattan Skyline'. Incidentally, the latter, their seventh UK single release was the first to miss out on the top ten, reaching No 11.
In 1987, their place in musical history was cemented when they were commissoned to write the theme song to the latest James Bond movie, "The Living Daylights". The track was well received and reached No 5 in the UK.
In another slight shift of image, the band attemped to mature with their
listeners in 1988. Their third album, "Stay On These Roads", was their least successful. It still had hits - the title track was a decent ballad, 'Touchy' and 'You Are The One' were catchy pop songs and 'The Blood That Moves The Body' a moody descendent from 'The Living Daylights'. But over-production strangled the life out of well-written tracks like 'Out of Blue Comes Green', 'Theres Never a Forever Thing' and 'This Alone is Love'.
Realising that they were falling between two stools, chief song-writer
Waaktaar-Savoy, pushed the envelope on their 1990 release "East of the Sun, West of the Moon". The album performed moderately despite its more organic style and a superb version of the Everley Brothers classic 'Crying in the Rain'. 'Early Morning', 'East of the Sun' and '(Seemingly) Nonstop July' demonstrated their ability to write more contemporary music without the over-production that had troubled them in the past.
The following year saw the release of their greatest hits olection, "Headlines and Deadlines", which contained just one new track, the reasonable 'Move to Memphis'.
But sales were dwindling and the band searched in vain for the formula. Their 1993 release, "Memorial Beach" was the final straw. Regarded by fans as their grand opus, it delivered just one minor UK hit in the excellent U2-esque, 'Dark Is The Night For All'. But the album was a lethal collection of melancholic classics - 'Cold as Stone' a phenomenal eight-minute epic, the disturbing imagery of 'Locust' and the mesmerising title track. 'Move to Memphis' was re-recorded, sounding far heavier than its previous incarnation. 'Angel in the Snow' was a beautiful ballad written by Paul for his wife, Lauren Savoy, while 'Lie Down in Darkness' and 'How Sweet it Was' were broad-shoulderd rock numbers.
The following year saw the band release the harmless pop-tune 'Shapes That Go Together', the official song of that years Paralympics. But with touring scaled down to small venues and internal problems grinding patience within the band down to breaking point, the trio took time off to do their own thing. Harket had a moderately successful solo career with the highlight being his "Wild Seed" album, Furuholmen devoted his time to his other great passion - painting - and Waaktaar-Savoy formed the band Savoy with his wife and built a large following in his home country.
In 1998, the band were asked to perform two tracks at the Nobel Peace Concert in Oslo. Curious to perform together again, they worked on a new track called 'Summer Moved On' which Waaktaar-Savoy had written. The positive reaction to their performance in Oslo led the trio to announce that they were working on a new project.
It arrived in 2000 - "Minor Earth Major Sky". The break had done them the world of good and the album was a huge hit in Europe, although notably promotion and acknowledgment in the UK was minimal. 'Summer Moved On' was the successful lead single and it was followed by the catchy mid-tempo synth-rock title track and tender ballad 'Velvet'. Despite being ignored in the UK, the album was named as one of the years top thirty albums by British music writers. The band finished their European tour with two sold out nights at Oslo's Vallhall venue. The desire to see the band was so high amongst fans around the world, an estimated 28 countries were represented at the shows.
Their seventh studio album, "Lifelines", received a warm critical reception in 2002. Mixing gentle pop sensibilities 'Lifelines', 'Solace', 'Time and Again'), dance-rock ('You Wanted More', 'Did Anyone Approach You?') and mature guitar-driven tunes ('A Little Bit', 'Less than Pure', 'Dragonfly') they have once again proved to be masters of their trade. Lead-single 'Forever Not Yours' topped the charts in seven countries and the band are continuing their
sold-out world tour through the year.
More than the one-hit wonder that most people would have you believe, the
question is would A-ha have been better off if 'Take On Me' had not been the hit it was?
Of course not.
Thanks to 9lives (firstname.lastname@example.org) for submitting the biography.
Please click here to submit the latest A-ha biography
Pretty much underated | Reviewer: Louise | 11/7/13
It's quite funny that some people don't know them or only say things like "they are one hit wonder"
I mean c'mon which one hit wonder band has sold more than 60 million albums and 15 million singles?
Of course they aren't no U2 or Bon jovi, but they had a lot of sucess when they were togheter.
It's so sad to see that they aren't togheter anymore since the band split up in 2010 for like uh? forever..
Although I wanted them to be togheter, I believe that this decision maybe was better for them. Morten, Pal and Magne seemed to changed a lot since they were 20. Of course all of them are 50's something and they have their family and this kinda of stuff, but it just didn't seem to work for them being togheter anymore.
But at least they are gonna be in our hearts forever.
Ridin the crest | Reviewer: Alun harris | 5/10/10
Wot a band,ive seen them 31 times.they also have a 9th studio album,foot of the mountain,wich for me takes them back to where they started.the album is absolute class,im seeing them again this year in cardiff and manchester,cant wait,gutted its the fairwell tour but like the lads said,theyre ending on a high note
my favorites | Reviewer: Lee John | 10/26/08
am a senior citizen but not too old to really appreciate beautiful music. For its video and beautiful orchestration and the incomparable voice of the lead singer, Morten, this is unsurpassable. Never, never tire of listening to this song..The sunshine/TV song is a close second!
adittional news | Reviewer: Morty | 7/6/08
a-ha also released an album in 2005, called Analogue. They are currently working on their 9th studio album wich will proabably be released late this year or sometime next year.
a-ha studio albums:
Hunting High and Low ( 1985 )
Scoundrel Days ( 1986 )
stay On These Roads ( 1988 )
East of the Sun West of the Moon ( 1991 )
Memorial Beach ( 1993 )
Minor Earth Major Sky ( 2000 )
Lifelines ( 2002 )
Analogue ( 2005 )
Check out their official site for news on a-ha and their solo work aswell:
and for old and new musicvideos:
( I especially recomend the musicvideos : Take On Me, The Sun Always Shines On TV, Hunting High and Low, Train of Thought, Blood That Moves The Body, Minor Earth Major Sky, Velvet, Celice, Lifelines, The Sun Always Shines On TV 2003 live edition, Angel in the Snow, Move to Memphis and Forever Not Your
Greatest | Reviewer: Becka Condray | 4/25/08
I was born in 1993 and I grew up listening to A HA. I love this band, and I love their music. My favorite song would have to be Take on Me. The video was absolutely amazing and it amazes me the work it would have taken to create that video.
I may only be a 14 year old freshman at Kingsford HighSchool in michigan, but, A HA is a great band. I love all the oldies. Right now, we are doing a project in US History about different era's. I picked the 80's because tons of good music happened during this era, especially A HA. This Biography is really helping me out on my project, thanks alot.
the best band | Reviewer: nadia brizuela | 4/15/07
I have enjoyed their music since 1985 and I would like to get their mails in order to write to them. thanks
My favorite band | Reviewer: Anonymous | 11/14/06
Aha is my band....since the 80's up to the present, i always play their music.....take on me, cry wolf, hunting high and low and all their stuffs.
A ha One great group that never got it Props | Reviewer: Steve | 3/25/06
"A HA" there is so much more to this group then Take on me. The album Hunting High and Low is one that I listen to on a regular basis but that is just one piece of the puzzle. They have had many albums after Hunting but none seemed to have the success, which is to bad. If you have never listened to a ha do yourself a favor give them a try.
A-ha is great. | Reviewer: John | 3/2/06
Hunting High and Low = One of the best albums in my collection after 20 years. Still listen to it (the CD version) at least about once a week, as it is a permanent fixture in my car's CD player. John (USA)
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