Welcome back, A-ha! And while we’re so very grateful that you have a new album, we’re just as relieved that Morten Harket is still hot.
This information is equally as important to many of us ’80s kids as the news that Cast In Steel is so freaking good. It’s hard not to objectify Harket since his 1985 video for “Take On Me” was the perfect romantic fantasy narrative every tween girl and closeted young teen boy dreamed about. His chiseled cheekbones and lustful gazes made that video as interesting as the primo pencil-sketch animation it was shot in!
To celebrate the much-needed return of A-ha, here are some facts only us ’80s kids will really appreciate.
1. There’s no deeper story to why they called themselves “A-ha”
There is a saying, “When you hear hooves think horses, not zebras” — and that seems to be the band’s naming philosophy. One day, lead guitar hero Paul Waaktaar-Savoy handed his notebook to soon-to-be-hottie Morten Harket, who noticed the word “A-ha” written down. He said, “That’s a great name. That’s what we should call ourselves.” The two consulted dictionaries in several languages and found out that a-ha was in every one of them, and so it was done. Nobody liked to think too hard in the ’80s.
2. “Take On Me” was the greatest video of all time
That pretty young girl (who’s supposed to be you) is thumbing through a comic book at a coffee shop when she notices that the drawing of a luscious piece of man meat is winking at her from the pages. A crudely drawn hand then pulls her inside the comic book for the sexiest adventure of her life. There weren’t even movies as good as this love story back then! And, of course, it all works out in the end, because everything in ’80s pop culture did. The video and the song hit No. 1 on Billboard, staying there for an unprecedented 23 weeks.
3. Sorry, Whitney Houston, even MTV said A-ha was the Best New Artist in a Video
You may have your own (wrong) opinion about what artist or group made the ’80s hot, but according to the MTV Video Music Awards, it was A-ha who wore the Best New Artist in a Video crown. Don’t feel too bad, Whitney Houston fans; the Talking Heads and Dire Straits also lost to A-ha that year. Enjoy a flashback moment and relive what the MTV Video Music Awards used to be like.
4. Back in the ’80s, MTV told us A-ha would reign supreme
There was no Spotify, no Tidal, not even Songza. Heck, back then we didn’t even have iPods, iTunes or “i” anything for that matter. Musically, we just did whatever MTV told us to do, and in 1986 they nominated A-ha for 11 moonmen at that year’s MTV Video Music Awards (of which they won eight).
5. We had no problem learning the name Morten Harket
Peering out from the 1985 album cover of Hunting High and Low was this James Dean meets Rob Lowe sexpot who made us quickly forget what’s-his-face who played Blackie on General Hospital. He was Morten Harket. The name was unusual, but the warm, fuzzy feeling he gave us was all too familiar.
6. You wished you lived in the “Take on Me” video world — all the time
One of the main draws of the world the “Take on Me” video created was that it was this weird safe place where your boyfriend was a hero saving you from race car drivers chasing you with wrenches. He also knew how to open the secret door where you could escape out of harm’s way. This was important because in 1985 it was a scary time. We met the Unabomber, were sure we would tumble into a well like baby Jessica and were constantly being told to “just say ‘no.’”
7. You couldn’t care less about James Bond, but you saw The Living Daylights for the theme song
Sure, Duran Duran did an amazing job with their theme song for A View To A Kill in 1985, but this was a new era; it was 1987, practically the ’90s! Duran Duran were simply just setting the stage for the grand masterpiece that became A-ha’s contribution to the Bond franchise. Sure, they were no Paul McCartney and Wings, but who was?
8. It wasn’t until your 30s that you realized how friggin’ talented Morten Harket really is
When all of us ’80s kids hit 30, karaoke bars were popping up everywhere. There isn’t a karaoke bar in this country, dare I say, in the world, where “Take on Me” karaoke isn’t an option. But I defy you to hit that high note when you get to the part after “I’ll beeeeee gone…” — then you’re out, right? Much like rent, it’s too damn high. And it is in that very moment you realize the true genius and sheer talent of Morten Harket.
9. Since pop culture has kept A-ha alive, somehow you have not aged either
There have been dozens of A-ha pop culture references over the decades, but each one means they are still relevant — and, thus, you are, too. Like the time you were in tears during that Grey’s Anatomy season finale, when suddenly you heard something familiar — different, but familiar. It was “Take on Me” being performed by Aqualung and you felt justified for loving that song. Then, one afternoon, you’re watching a rerun of Family Guy when you see Chris get pulled through the milk shelf in the dairy section into that video world A-ha created for you in your teens — and you felt empowered.
10. Your kids listening to Pitbull and Christina Aguilera’s “Feel This Moment” means you raised them right
Walking by your kid’s room, you hear a familiar riff. You don’t mean to eavesdrop, but the song is so memorable. Could it be? Yes, even Pitbull and Christina Aguilera recognize the genius that is A-ha and have sampled “Take on Me” for their hit “Feel This Moment.” Of all the life lessons you’ve taught your kids, you realize that your love for A-ha has somehow seeped in and that, my friend, means you have done an excellent job.