It seems the ’80s are synonymous with bands who had one major hit. Is it possible that MTV led to this phenomenon? Possibly.
Could it be because it was a decade of decadence and excess? Perhaps…
Either way, some of these one-offs are indelible musical memories, playing forever in the minds of those of us listening to music back in those days… And our response when we hear these tunes on the radio is… joyous. After all, isn’t that what music is about… to make us feel and ideally, give us great pleasure?
A-Ha – The Singles: 1984-2004
We all know “Take On Me”. It is ubiquitous. It also happens to be one of those rare and perfect pop gems. Hooky, simple and glorious. It makes us smile… and probably bop and dance as soon as we hear it.
And the video is equally iconic. I can remember running home from school just to watch MTV… and videos like this stood out… Still do.
But is that it for this band? I will admit picking this record was a bit of curiosity for me… 19 singles, aka “hits”? Really?
In doing a little research, I learned that this band is still remarkably popular… and truly worldwide!
According to Wikipedia: “A-ha was a Norwegian pop band formed in Oslo in 1982… and they achieved their biggest success with their debut album, Hunting High and Low, in 1985. That album peaked at number 1 in their native Norway, number 2 in the UK, and number 15 on the U.S. Billboard album chart; yielded two international number-one singles, “Take on Me” and “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.”; and earned the band a Grammy Award nomination as Best New Artist.”
They would go on to release a total of 9 albums… and “On 15 October 2009, the band announced they would split after a worldwide tour in 2010, the Ending on a High Note tour. Thousands of fans from at least 40 different countries on six continents congregated to see A-ha for the last time.”
“The band has sold more than 60 million albums and 15 million singles worldwide. In less than a year, during 2010, the band earned an estimated 500 million Norwegian Kroner on touring tickets, merchandising and the release of a greatest hits album, making them one of the 40–50 largest grossing bands in the world.”
Aside from the infectious “Take On Me”, I actually love some of these tracks. I forgot they did the Bond theme song for “The Living Daylights”. Not one of the best Bond films, and not one of the stronger theme songs, but a good song.
“Stay On These Roads” is another wonderful tune… Quite lovely, in fact… and comes from their third album of the same name… That is also where the Bond song landed.
Perhaps I am a sucker for songs about the place of my birth, but I really dig “Manhattan Skyline.”
This record closes strongly with “Forever Not Yours” and the stunning “Lifelines”, a gorgeous pop tune with a lovely message.
“What do you see?
What do you know?
What are the signs?
What do I do?
Just follow your lifelines through.
What if it hurts?
What do I do?
What do you say?
Don’t throw your lifelines away.
Don’t throw your lifelines away.”
So the lesson is this… sometimes a band is more than the one hit we hear or are exposed to…
Go explore and listen on your own… make up your own mind… and rock your own self good!