Take On Me by a-ha - Daily Song Facts
Take On Me by a-ha - Daily Song Facts

  • This song became a hit in the US because of its innovative video where a cartoon figure beckons the reader to join him in comic. It was created by Michael Patterson and his wife Candace Reckinger, who would later work on videos for "Opposites Attract," "Luka" and "Impulsive." Patterson has said, "We started on a-ha's 'Take on Me' - the project began with my animated film Commuter, which won the student academy award in 1981 - it's done in the same animation style. I directed the animation and drew everything on that clip - we also did the finish for it here in LA. It's credited for bringing experimental animation into the mainstream." It was directed by Steve Barron, who was responsible for much of MTV's playlist in the 80s, as he also directed "Billie Jean," "She Blinded Me With Science," "Karma Chameleon" and "Summer Of '69."
  • A-ha wrote and recorded the first version of this song in 1982 with the title "Lesson One" - it had different lyrics but contained the basic keyboard riff. In 1983, the song got the attention of industry veteran Terry Slater, who became their manager and helped them secure a contract with Warner Bros. Records later that year. In early 1984, they re-wrote the song as "Take On Me" and recorded it with producer Tony Mansfield. Released as a single only in Europe, it went to #3 in their native Norway, but didn't chart anywhere else, flopping particularly hard in the UK. A video was made for this version that was remarkably undistinguished compared with the one that came after. At Slater's suggestion, they re-recorded the song with producer Alan Tarney, who beefed it up with more instrumentation and energy. Around this time, a record company executive named Jeff Ayeroff moved from A&M to Warner Bros., and championed the song. In the book I Want My MTV, he said: "I fell in love with the song. Then I saw a picture of the band, and it was like, Do people actually look like this? Morten Harket was one of the best-looking men in the world."
  • A-ha were a Norwegian trio formed by Morten Harket (vocals), Pal Waaktaar (guitar) and Mags Furuholmen (keyboards). Furuholmen chose their name as it was a simple exclamation known all over the world.
  • With this hit, a-ha became the first Norwegian band to have #1 in USA.
  • Bunty Bailey, the woman Morten Harket falls for and saves in the video, became Morten's girlfriend for a couple of years after they met on the shoot. After their breakup, she moved on to other music videos, and was one of the girls singing "back-up" for Billy Idol in his video for "Got To Be A Lover." Look for the blonde in the white outfit in the middle
  • Producer Alan Tarney generated the main rhythm on a Roland Juno 60 synthesizer. There is also a LinnDrum in the mix, programmed by Pal Waaktaar.
  • Because of the singer's Norwegan accent, lyrics to the song are often misinterpreted. In one verse, many people hear, "Talking away, today isn't my day to find you," but the correct lyrics are actually, "Today's another day to find me."
  • The song reached #1 in 27 countries including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. It remained on top of the Eurochart Hot 100 for nine weeks.
  • Furuholmen said early versions of the song were influenced by The Doors, particularly keyboardist Ray Manzarek. He told Rolling Stone: "Manzarek's almost mathematical but very melodic, structured way of playing the keyboard was a huge influence in how I approached my instrument. And I think a lot of the strength of a-ha comes from absorbing things like that and adding our own Scandinavian flavor to it."
  • The band learned the hard way that chart success doesn't equal financial success, at least not right away. When they found out the song went to #1, they celebrated with dinner and champagne at a swanky restaurant - only to have their credit card refused.

Thanks for reading!



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Daily Song Facts
Daily Song Facts

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