a-ha in the 1980s
SONGS AND ALBUMS
by Mark Nobes, chief editor
a-ha were formed in 1982 by Paul Waaktaar Savoy (guitars), Magne Furuholmen (keyboards) and Morten Harket (vocals). The band first rose to fame in the UK during the mid 80s with the hit singles "Take On Me" (which reached No.2 in the UK) and "The Sun Always Shines On TV", their only UK number one. They have sold an impressive 35 million+ albums worldwide, making them the best-selling Norwegian music act in history.
The trio's biggest success came from their debut album, Hunting High and Low in 1985, which peaked at no.1 in their native Norway, and no.2 in the UK.
The album included the band's first two aforementioned singles, and also the title track as the third single, and "Train of Thought" as the final release. "Love is Reason" was only released in the band's home country and the Phillippines.
Front sleeve froma-ha's debut album Hunting High and Low
During the second half of the eighties, a-ha joined many other artists in moving away from synthpop and adopting a more rock-orientated sound, which was evident on their second album release Scoundrel Days. However, although the album was very successful (in some countries such as Switzerland and Brazil it performed even better than their debut) the total sales were not as high as the band's debut album, particularly in the UK. Nonethless, it sold around 6 million units globally.
Front sleeve of the band's second vinyl LP Scoundrel Days
The front sleeve of a-ha's third vinyl LP Stay On These Roads
Amazing Facts About A-Ha
- The band's iconic video for their first hit single "Take On Me" won twice as many MTV awards as Michael Jackson's "Thriller" - yes, it's true! It won six awards at the MTV Video Awards in 1986.
- a-ha were the first band from Norway to reach No.1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and they remain the country's most successful band.
- Sales from the band's three albums from the 1980s are around 21 million, with 11 million of these coming from the band's debut Hunting High and Low.
- a-ha's official Take On Me video has received over 1.2 billion views on Youtube
Studio Albums (UK)
1985 Hunting High and Low - #2 (3 x Platinum)
1986 Scoundrel Days - #2 (Platinum)
1988 Stay On These Roads - #2 (Gold)
1990 East of the Sun, West of the Moon - #12 (Silver)
1993 Memorial Beach - #17
2000 Mirror Earth Major Sky - #27
2002 Lifelines - #67
2005 Analogue - #24 (Silver)
2009 Foot of the Mountain - #5
2015 Cast in Steel - #8 (Silver)
Includes UK peak album chart positions and BPI certificates (shown in brackets)
Morten Harket - lead vocalist, guitars
Magne Furuholmen - keyboards, guitars, bass, backing vocals
Paul Waaktaar-Savoy - drums, percussion, guitars, backing vocals
CRY WOLF (1986)
Stay On These Roads (Single) 1988
This was A-ha's last British Top 10 hit of the eighties, and they had to wait until 2006 to get another one, when they reached #10 with Analogue.
The B-side featured the very seasonal Soft Rains Of April. The single sold around 3 million units globally.
MANHATTAN SKYLINE (1987)
"Manhattan Skyline" reached #13 in the UK singles chart in February 1987. It was the last single to be released from a-ha's second album Scoundrel Days. This video is from the Vallhall Football Arena in Oslo, Norway where a-ha played live on 24th March 2001.
The Living Daylights (1987)
This was the theme tune to the James Bond movie of the same name. The original version of the track was composed by the band's guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and John Barry.
However, a second version of the song was created by a-ha for their album Stay On These Roads, and they did not want to credit Barry on this version. Apparently, John Barry fell-out with the band and described them as "difficult to work with".
THE BLOOD THAT MOVES THE BODY (1988)
Released on June 6th 1988, and peaking at #25 in the UK, the song was the second single release from the album and the follow-up to the title track which had previously reached #5. Two further singles were released from the album.