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Music / a-ha

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(L-R) Furuholmen, Waaktaar, and Harket: The Power Trio that came from the North

"Touch me, how can it be?
Believe me, the sun always shines on T.V."
— "The Sun Always Shines on T.V."

a-ha are a band from Norway, consisting of Morten Harket (vocals), Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (guitars) and Magne "Mags" Furuholmen (keyboards). They chose the name "a-ha" because everyone would be able to say it easily. They initially rose to fame during the 1980s, but have had continued success in the 1990s and 2000s.

a-ha achieved its biggest success with their debut album and single in 1985. Hunting High and Low peaked at number fifteen on the Billboard charts and yielded an international number-one single, "Take on Me". Supported by one of the most iconic music videos of all time, it earned the band a Grammy Award nomination as Best New Artist. Hunting High and Low was one of the best-selling albums of 1986, and 1987 saw them singing the Title Theme Tune to the James Bond film The Living Daylights.


In 1994, the band went on a hiatus, the same year a-ha reached a sales number of 20 million albums sold worldwide. After a performance at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 1998, the band returned to the studio and recorded 2000's Minor Earth Major Sky, which resulted in a new tour. By 2000, they had reached 36 million albums sold wordwide plus several million singles. In 2002 the band released their seventh studio album Lifelines. Analogue is their eighth studio album and is their most successful studio album in the UK since East of the Sun, West of the Moon and has been certified silver. Their most recent album is Cast in Steel, which was released in September of 2015.

They retired on December 5, 2010, although they would perform one last time on August 21, 2011 as part of a national memorial service for the 77 victims of two related domestic terrorist attacks that took place in the Oslo region on July 22. Fans rejoiced, however, when the band announced in 2015 that they were reuniting for at least another two years. It turned out to be for longer, as they have gone on three European tours since 2018.



  • 1985 - Hunting High and Low
  • 1986 - Scoundrel Days
  • 1988 - Stay on These Roads
  • 1990 - East of the Sun, West of the Moon
  • 1993 - Memorial Beach
  • 2000 - Minor Earth Major Sky
  • 2002 - Lifelines
  • 2005 - Analogue
  • 2009 - Foot of the Mountain
  • 2015 - Cast in Steel

a-ha has examples of:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: The two rival #13 racers from the "Take On Me" video, who both attack The Hero and The Girl inside the comic book seeking to murder the protagonist for beating them in a race.
  • Animated Music Video
    • "Take on Me" and "Train of Thought," both from Hunting High and Low, integrate rotoscoped pencil sketch animation with live-action.
    • The Internet exclusive video for "I Wish I Cared" was one of the very first wholly Flash-animated music videos.
  • Audience Participation Song: "Hunting High and Low", "The Living Daylights".
  • Bond Gun Barrel: "The Living Daylights", naturally.
  • Changed for the Video: The award-winning video for "Take on Me" by a-ha has a different ending than the one on the Hunting High and Low album. While the album version does a repeat-and-fade at the end, the video has a quick, 3-note cold finish using unique instrumentation.
  • Continuity Nod: The first 30 seconds of the video for "The Sun Always Shines on TV" are spent ending the storyline in the "Take On Me" video.
    • And then the first 10 second of the video for "Train Of Thought" are the last 10 second of the video for "The Sun Always Shines on TV", picking right where the former left off.
  • Cover Version: "Crying in the Rain" (The Everly Brothers), "Velvet" (Savoy, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy's other band) and "#9 Dream" (John Lennon).
  • Downer Ending:
    • As stated above, the beginning of the video for "The Sun Always Shines on TV" is one for "Take on Me"; the man slowly (and apparently painfully) reverts back to his animated form, and he runs away from the girl. The girl looks dejected as a blinding flash lights up the night sky in the distance from where the man has run to, underlining the couple's tragic separation.
    • In the music video for "Minor Earth, Major Sky" Morten's character is distracted by hallucinations on the Moon, and he is left behind to die by his crewmates, with the lunar module taking off without him.
  • First Installment Wins: "Take on Me", "The Sun Always Shines on TV", and "Train Of Thought" are actually a trilogy of videos all following the same very loose story and featuring the same rotoscoped art in one way or another. Now go ask everybody who has seen the video for "Take on Me" if they even know a-ha released other songs altogether. Go on, we'll wait.
  • Fourth Wall Shut-In Story: The music video to the song "Take on Me" illustrates this, with a much more carefree attitude than usual. Given its medium 1980s pop music, carefree is to be expected.
  • Intercourse with You: "I Call Your Name" is actually a honeymoon song, complete with metaphors.
  • Long-Runner Line-up (Logical Extreme): 18 years with the same three guys before disbanding (with one reunion benefit concert).
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • Many, many of their songs have this going for them... "The Blood That Moves The Body" comes to mind.
    • That one pales in comparison to "Scoundrel Days". The beat is rock-ish and spirited, the lyrics are pure Mind Screw.
    • "I've Been Losing You" is the musings of a male Yandere who has just shot dead his own wife.
    • "Maybe Maybe" is cute and poppy. But describes rather lightly how a guy and his ex-girlfriend bitch each other, until said girlfriend runs him over with her car.
    • More subtly, "Soft Rains of April" seems to be about a guy who's just bored and lonely away from home. By the end we find out it's about an inmate from an English prison, and his relatives have all but disowned him.
  • Mood Dissonance: "Velvet" is a song about a man praising a woman's beauty. In the music video on the other hand, the band members' love interests murders all 3 of them. Morten dies in an Electrified Bathtub, Paul is killed by a bullet on the head, while Magne's corpse is locked in a freezer. Morten's singing as he is transported out of the tub and into a body bag is part of the video's Narm Charm.
  • New Wave
  • Notable Music Videos: "Take on Me"
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Celice", a love song dedicated to... a chastity belt. The group that gave us "Take On Me", everyone!
  • Portal Book: Type 2 in Take On Me, the lead singer invites a cute woman into the world of the comic book he appears inside of.
  • Power Trio
  • Remaster: The music video for 'Take On Me' was given a 4K HD remaster in 2019 from the original film and released on YouTube at the end of the year. However, most of the sequences in the comic world are a little too blue-skewed and the live action parts are a little too darkly lit.
  • Re-release the Song: "Take On Me" was actually released three times. The first release was promoted with a Performance Video, but neither the single nor the video became a hit. The second release, a rerecording of the song, did a bit better, but it wasn't until the third release and a new, rotoscoped music video that the song became a worldwide hit.
    • "The Living Daylights" was recorded twice. Once for the the movie of the same name and once again for the album Stay on These Roads.
  • Rock-Star Song: "The Bandstand", arguably.
  • Rotoscoping: The music video of "Take on Me".
  • Shout-Out: The ending scene in the hallway of "Take On Me" is an Homage to Altered States.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Magne Furuholmen sings lead vocals on "The Way We Talk" and "Summers of Our Youth".
  • Take That, Audience!: The Downer Ending for Take On Me that was the intro for the video The Sun Always Shines on TV. It was an annoyed jab by the band at the thousands of fans who had endlessly written them to ask "what happens next?" with the couple from Take On Me. What happens next? He can't stay in the real world, turns back into a comic drawing, and is forced to run back to his world, represented by a blue light he enters with a flash and disappears, and she leans against a tree with an expression of deep sadness. The end. Now listen to THIS song, which WE think is BETTER, stupid fans.
    • And just drive the point home, the video for ''"Train of Thought" starts exactly where "The Sun Always Shines on TV" left off and confirms that yes, he's stuck in the comic book for good. At this point, she has completely vanished from the narrative.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Morten's pretty looks would suggest he's a normal Tenor Boy type of singer. Think again.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Downplayed with "Take On Me". While the song is coherent, it is also good indication that English is not this band's first language.note 
  • Yandere: The narrator of "I've Been Losing You" and the girl from "Maybe Maybe".


Video Example(s):



"Take On Me" goes for a unique approach by first showing animation in stills, then showing real footage, then showing actual animation.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnimatedMusicVideo

Media sources:

Main / AnimatedMusicVideo