Beyond “Take On Me”: A Dozen Of a-ha’s Other Best Singles

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Beyond “Take On Me”: A Dozen Of a-ha’s Other Best Singles

a-ha singles
a-ha, 1987  (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

It’s tough when your first single is a globe-conquering runaway success – it can overshadow everything else you do for the rest of your career and in some cases you can be branded a one-hit-wonder despite enjoying several more successful singles. 

That’s the curse of a-ha’s “Take On Me”, which was so huge around the world in 1985 that people tend to forget the Norwegian group had a number of other hits and have continued to release outstanding music until the present.

Here are some of their musical highlights…
"The Sun Always Shines On TV"
Year: 1985
Album: Hunting High And Low

In the UK, it reached number 1, something “Take On Me” hadn’t quite managed, while in Australia, it just made the top 20. A song that gradually builds to its dramatic climax, “The Sun Always Shines On TV” is fuelled by waves of synths and singer Morten Harket’s piercing vocal. Electrifying.

"Hunting High And Low"
Year: 1986
Album: Hunting High And Low

Proving they had more in their repertoire than just awesome synthpop tunes, the title track of a-ha’s debut album was released as its final single and showcased the trio’s ability to produce a rousing ballad. Like “The Sun Always Shines On TV”, “Hunting High And Low” increases in intensity until its pinnacle – a string-soaked middle eight and final chorus that pushes the song to another level.


"I’ve Been Losing You"
Year: 1986
Album: Scoundrel Days

The lead single from a-ha’s second album fell just short of the ARIA top 20 – the last time they ventured that high in Australia. Less theatrical than their two previous hits, “I’ve Been Losing You” eased back on the synths and featured a fuller band sound.


“The Living Daylights”
Year: 1987
Album: The Living Daylights soundtrack

Following where Duran Duran had led with their 1985 Bond theme, “A View To A Kill”, a-ha supplied the soundtrack single for the franchise’s first film starring Timothy Dalton. “The Living Daylights” was the perfect mix of a-ha’s inherent drama and composer John Barry’s trademark strings – even if the collaboration didn’t go so smoothly. 


"The Blood That Moves The Body"
Year: 1988
Album: Stay On These Roads

This second single from a-ha’s third album is one of their lesser known ’80s releases and, with its sweeping strings and dark synth stabs, sounds like another contender for a Bond theme. Despite featuring lyrics dealing with death, possibly those of kamikaze pilots, the track was used in Japan to advertise make-up.


Year: 1988
Album: Stay On These Roads

With a synth hook that sounds a little reminiscent of Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days”, the third single from Stay On These Roads is pure fun, as was the synchronised swimming, beach frolics music video shot in France.


"You Are The One"
Year: 1988
Album: Stay On These Roads

The poppiest single a-ha have ever released, “You Are The One” is a joyous love song guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Amusing in a different way: the music video featuring Morten, Mags and Pal tripping around New York dressed as old fashioned sailors.


“I Call Your Name”
Year: 1990
Album: East Of The Sun, West Of The Moon

New decade, new sound: a-ha got serious in the ’90s. Were it not for Morten’s distinctive vocal, this saxophone-driven second single from their fourth album almost sounded like a completely different band – say, Hothouse Flowers.


"Summer Moved On"
Year: 2000
Album: Minor Earth Major Sky

Skipping forward a decade – and one hiatus – later, a-ha’s comeback single had actually been written two years earlier when the trio had been asked to perform at the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize concert. The song famously contains the longest continually held note sung in a pop hit of just over 20 seconds.


"Forever Not Yours"
Year: 2002
Album: Lifelines

Their 2000 reunion album was followed two years later by their seventh studio set, which was led by this melancholic single. The music video for “Forever Not Yours”, which was filmed in Havana, is worth a look for the sting in the tail – and for further evidence that the band’s three members barely seem to have aged in all this time.


"Analogue (All I Want)"
Year: 2006
Album: Analogue

Transformed from its original version by pop super producer Max Martin, “Analogue (All I Want)” featured one of the Swede’s trademark soaring choruses and returned a-ha to the UK top 10 for the first time since 1988. It was easily the most accessible single they had released in all that time.


"Butterfly, Butterfly (The Last Hurrah)"
Year: 2010
Album: 25

A new song included on career retrospective 25, “Butterfly, Butterly…” was, as its subtitle suggests, meant to be one final high point in a career of outstanding songs. A bittersweet synthpop track, matched by a music video that referenced a-ha’s early successes, it was an emotional ending to their career… until they reunited for a second time a few years later.


a-ha fans will be delighted to know that two millennium comeback albums have been announced.

Minor Earth | Major Sky (Deluxe Edition) presents the remastered original album with bonus tracks and a second CD with 16 more demos, outtakes and live tracks. Lifelines (Deluxe Edtion) contains the remastered original album with bonus tracks and a second 19-track CD of early versions, demos and songs that did not make it to the final album. Both sets will be released on September 27. Pre-order here. 

Read more: a-ha Announce Australian Tour Dates

Read more: Win A Trip To Meet a-ha In Norway

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