Friday, October 1, 2010

We're Looking For the Whales by a-ha

Norway's a-ha is mostly known as a pop sensation one-hit wonder, with their iconic "Take On Me" appearing in almost every 80s retrospective I've seen (as well as consistently being listed as one of the best music videos of all time, only slightly edged out by Michael Jackson's "Thriller.") At least in the US; a-ha have proven to be surprisingly inconsistent in terms of popularity as you move from region to region. While usually forgotten (except for "Take On Me") in the US, some of their subsequent early singles were bigger in the UK than that anthem, and a-ha found a hugely warm and prolonged reception in South America, for instance.

However, I was one of the few who was actually quite into a-ha during the 80s in my country, and to me they were unappreciated "New Wave" (i.e. synthpop) masters. Lead singer Morten Harket is of course famous for his incredible vocal range, especially in the falsetto register, but he was an incredibly capable and silky vocalist even when not stretching himself as notably as he did on "Take On Me." This song, from their sophomore effort Scoundrel Days was always one of my favorite songs of theirs, light yet still wistful and ethereal at the same time. I'll post a lot of a-ha as this blog goes on: "Take On Me", "Hunting High and Low", "Train of Thought", "Living A Boy's Adventure Tale", "The Sun Always Shines on TV", "Scoundrel Days", "Cry Wolf", "Manhattan Skyline", "Stay On These Roads", and "The Living Daylights" were all favorites of mine too, and also show the impeccable "New Wave" pedigree that a-ha exhibited but which few remember nowadays.


  1. There is a track right before or right after this one on Scoundrel Days that is the epitome of cheesy bubble gum synthpop: "Maybe, Maybe"

  2. Yep. That song, needless to say, will not be making an appearance on this blog.