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A-ha - Take On Me (1984)

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  • 80's Score80's Score80's Score80's Score 80's score: 3.87
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“Take On Me” is a song by Norwegian synth-pop band A-ha, first released in 1984. The original version was ...

“Take On Me” is a song by Norwegian synth-pop band A-ha, first released in 1984. The original version was produced by Tony Mansfield and remixed by John Ratcliff. A new version was released in 1985 and produced by Alan Tarney for the group’s debut studio album Hunting High and Low (1985). The song combines synthpop with a varied instrumentation that includes acoustic guitars, keyboards, and drums. It is considered to be the band’s signature song.

The original “Take On Me” was recorded in 1984 and took two versions and three releases to chart in the United Kingdom, reaching number two on the UK Singles Chart in October 1985. In the United States in October 1985, it became the only A-ha song to top the Billboard Hot 100, assisted by wide exposure on MTV of its innovative music video, directed by Steve Barron. The video features the band in a live-action pencil-sketch sequence. The video won six awards and was nominated for two others at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.

The video was filmed in 1985 at Kim’s Café (now called Savoy Café), and on a sound stage in London. The video used a pencil-sketch animation / live-action combination called rotoscoping, in which the live-action footage is traced over frame by frame to give the characters realistic movements. Approximately 3,000 frames were rotoscoped, which took 16 weeks to complete. The idea of the video was suggested by Warner Bros executive Jeff Ayeroff, who was pivotal in making “Take on Me” a globally recognised music hit.

“Take On Me” was originally released in 1984, and was mixed by Tony Mansfield, but failed to make an impact in the United Kingdom.This release peaked at number three in Norway but failed to reach audiences abroad. The group re-recorded the song with the help of producer Alan Tarney, releasing the new version in 1985.

Wide exposure on MTV made the song quickly soar to the top position of the Billboard Hot 100 on 19 October 1985. It remained on the chart for twenty-seven weeks, and ended up at the tenth position of the 1985 year-end chart. As of June 2014, the song has sold 1,463,000 digital copies in the US after it became available for download in the digital era.

In Norway, A-ha’s native country, “Take On Me” reentered the VG-lista singles chart, reaching a new peak of number one, a year after it was first released. The single was largely successful elsewhere, reaching the top of the Eurochart Hot 100 for nine weeks, topping the singles charts in 36 countries, including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, and reaching the top three in France and number two in Ireland. The success of “Take On Me” lies also in its sales, as the single would go on to sell over 7 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.

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