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Pop Rewind: A-ha “Take On Me”

“Take On Me” is one of those songs many people recognize, but not as many know where it is from. This song, performed by Norwegian new-wave band A-ha, was a staple on Top-40 radio back in 1985, and today its signature synthesizer riff continues to be heard and recognized on many a shopping-center soundtrack.

“Take On Me” first appeared on the band’s debut album Hunting High and Low, which garnered them a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 1986 (ultimately, Sade walked with the award). Since then, from a strictly American standpoint, A-ha would appear to be a “one-hit wonder,” as “Take On Me” is probably the only song of theirs that most of us would recognize. However, A-ha has actually has a long and prosperous career in Europe, going on to release nine studio albums and selling over 80 million records worldwide. They are credited with drawing the largest concert crowd on record in Norway, with a concert attendance of 120,000 in Oslo in 2005. With the exception of a four-year hiatus in the late 1990’s, the band remained active for years with a solid fan base, and finally called it quits just last year with a series of farewell concerts.

A-ha might have only had one genuine U.S. hit, but their legacy runs much deeper. “Take On Me” has been covered by dozens of artists over the years, and bands like Keane and Coldplay cite A-ha as a major influence.



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About the Author


Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

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