Story of Song
In an interview with A-ha, Furuholmen said “The theme from Take On Me was the first thing I heard from Paul and Max play together when I joined them” which was four years before the first release of the song. Furuholmen continues, “But the lyrics were just an accident in the studio”. Morten said that “It was written on by many stages, the last part; the chorus, was about a year old while the verse was about 5 years old, but we always thought it was a good song to start up with, like an introduction song for the band”. Furuholmen talked about how Ray Manzarek from The Doors was an inspiration to him, he said: “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”. Furuholmen continued: “We started thinking, ‘How can we showcase this incredible voice (Morten)?’ So we were kind of doing this spiraling thing up, and Morten came up with an inflection of the melody that turned it much more interesting”.
After signing to Warner Bros. in London and recording the first real version of “Take on Me,” A-ha deemed the track subpar and the single quickly bombed. The group recruited producer Alan Tarney to re-record the song, and the video became one of the most iconic clips of the 80s.
Furuholmen said: “I have no doubt that the video made the song a hit. The song has a super catchy riff, but it is a song that you have to hear a few times. And I don’t think it would’ve been given the time of day without the enormous impact of the video.”
Furuholmen blamed A-ha’s reluctance to play the pop star game in America for their limited success. He said: “We were three headstrong Norwegians saying, ‘No we don’t want to record another “Take on Me,” we’re doing our own thing. We never expected to become teenage idols, so for us it was like, ‘Let’s move on.’ But for the record company this was a successful formula, and anything we did to break with that was seen as a disease.” A-ha became the first Norwegian band to have Number 1 in USA.
Magne Furuholmen told Rolling Stone Magazine:”To me it still sounds fresh on the radio. It started out being called ‘Lesson One,’ then we renamed the song ‘All’s Well That Ends Well and Moves With the Sun.’ A very catchy, short title.”
September 1984 (Original release)-April 1985 (2nd release)-August 1985 (3rd release)
US – 1
UK – 2
GERMANY – 1
In Norway (A-Ha’s native country), a year after the song was first released “Take On Me” re-entered the VG-lista singles chart, reaching number 1. They sold 1,463,000 digital copies in the US after it became available for download in the digital era. The single was successful in Europe, reaching the top of the Euro chart Hot 100 for 9 weeks and topping the charts in 36 other countries, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. It peaked at number 3 in France and reached number 2 in Ireland. The single sold over 7 million copies worldwide making it one of the best selling singles of all time. At the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, “Take on Me” took home six trophies.
The song was number 1 in October 1985 and stayed there for one week, when MTV started playing the video and radio stations were playing it frequently. It remained on the chart for twenty-three weeks, and ended up at the tenth position of the 1985 year-end chart. A week later, the song also reached its UK chart peak at number 2 behind “The Power Of Love” by Jennifer Rush.
Artist’s age on release date
A-ha had been active for 2 years only at the time of the song’s first release. While Furuholmen was 22, Morten was 25 and Paul Waaktaar was 23 years young.
The only remade for the song was done by no other but A-ha and re-released in 1984 and 1985.