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October 7, 2010 / Nick


I like a-ha’s entirely lower-case name. None of the aggression of an entirely capitalised name (eg. KISS, MSTRKRFT, ABBA), nor the bewildering arbitrariness of a part-caps, part no-caps name (eg. t.A.T.u.). But this a small factor to admire for a group who, now disbanding, are leaving a legacy of 25 years worth of music behind. Or are they?

How many songs by a-ha can you name off the top of your head? If it’s only 1, shame on you. The Norwegian new-wavers have done at the very bare minimum 3 amazing songs, and the one you’re probably thinking of isn’t even in that top 3.

Top 6 singles by a-ha

1) Hunting High And Low

Song: A powerful ballad from the 80s, but not an ’80s power ballad’.
Video concept: Morten Harket silhouettes turn into creatures of prey. 3:22 to 3:48 is up there as one the best ‘last 26 seconds of music video’ ever for the completely perplexing silhouette acting.
Most likely to hear it: Pretty much nowhere. Unfortunately (I hope you’re ashamed of yourself, Radio 2).

2) The Sun Always Shines On TV

Song: The only song by a-ha to have ever topped the UK charts. Understandably, Because it’s very bloody good.
Video Concept: 1985’s entire year production of mannequins in a church.
Most likely to hear it: In the trailer for Slumdog Millionaire. But not actually *in* Slumdog Millionaire.

3) The Living Daylights

Song: Also features somewhere in the top 5 Bond movie theme songs.
Video Concept: Pirate VHS copy of The Living Daylights picking up interference from band rehearsal.
Most likely to hear it: At a ‘James Bond’ theme-night or a ‘James Bond theme’ night.

4) Manhattan Skyline

Song: [internal monolgue] Boring soppy soppy…wait, what? Snare, synth and heavy guitar!
Video concept: Band in wordsearch; band in strobe-light newspaper wind tunnel.
Most likely to hear it: By clicking the wrong link while Google searching for images of the actual skyline of Manhattan (this song must have annoyed the hell out of the producer of Friends).

5) Take On Me

Song: We all like it, probably because it’s familiar, but it’s not the best. Most people don’t even know what the lyrics are that come after ‘I’ll. Be. Gone.’.
Video concept: Woman falls into Soviet-era comic book. Man breaks frame of reality with monkey wrench.
Most likely to hear it: Played ironically over some film or TV programme referencing the 1980s or at your local cheese night/Reflex bar.

6)Stay On These Roads

Song: Emotive and bleak.
Video concept: Nordic landscapes and masculine pastimes like standing around petrol stations.
Most likely to hear it: At a Norwegian late night supermarket.

So you can thank your Uncle Nick, as you now know 6 songs by a-ha. Go and enjoy them before they get bastardised in Glee or some Kellogg’s cereal advert.

Review: Underrated and overrated in equal measure. So, just…erm, ‘rated’, I suppose.

25 (the Greatest Hits) by a-ha on Spotify


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