In honor of the New Year now upon us, I selected another song from the period that’s been ringing in my ears of late. A distinctly 80s hit to christen 2015. Take On Me (recorded in 1984, released in ’85) was the Norwegian group A-ha’s lone U.S. #1 hit. An international one, as well. Initially recorded in various iterations before fusing with the instrumentation, energy, and a music video that crested the MTV wave.
In fact, the song’s success owes much to the video. Helmed by Irish film director Steve Barron, who had made his name producing “Don’t You Want Me” (The Human League), Africa (Toto), and of course “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson, this was his best I think. Manifesting itself through the medium, producer Alan Tarney’s new version of Take On Me would reach iconic status using the era’s unmistakable trademark.
The short film genre that coalesced song with stylish imagery at its utmost, already bursting into its glory days.
Along with featuring the band rotoscoped into pencil-sketched animation scenes, cleverly combined with live action, the music video matched the song’s vitality at every turn, beat, and falsetto note — how the handsome Harket hit those highs remains a wonder to this day. Even patterning its climactic scene with that of Ken Russell’s 1980 film Altered States, the videotaped performance remains a satisfying musical love story told in under four audacious minutes.
The lyrics, written by Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket, Pål Waaktaar, seemed to reach out to the new year, which happens to coincide with the song’s upcoming 30th anniversary.
We're talking away I don't know what I'm to say I'll say it anyway Today's another day to find you Shying away I'll be coming for your love, OK? Take on me, (take on me) Take me on, (take on me) I'll be gone In a day or two So needless to say I'm odds and ends I'll be stumbling away Slowly learning that life is OK Say after me It's no better to be safe than sorry Take on me, (take on me) Take me on, (take on me) I'll be gone In a day or two Oh the things that you say Is it live or Just to play my worries away You're all the things I've got to remember You're shying away I'll be coming for you anyway Take on me, (take on me) Take me on, (take on me) I'll be gone In a day (Take on me, take on me) (Take me on, take on me) I'll be gone (take on me) In a day
And if you don’t think this song’s video still has influence, take a gander at Volkswagen’s year old commercial that riffed on this 80s classic:
A Happy New Year to us all.