On this day in music history: October 19, 1985 - “Take On Me” by a-ha hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Morten Harket, Magne Furuholem and Pål Waaktaar, it is the biggest hit for the Norwegian pop music trio. The version of “Take On Me” that becomes a worldwide hit is actually not the first version of the song recorded. The band first record and release the song as a single in Europe in 1984 which fails to attract any attention or chart. They re-record it with producer Alan Tarney (Cliff Richard, Leo Sayer) and it again fails to make an impact. Only after they make the now iconic video directed by Steve Barron (“Billie Jean”, “Don’t You Want Me”, “Money For Nothing”, “Electric Avenue”, “Africa”) that the record enters the charts and climbs to number one. Taking nearly four months alone to finish the clips distinctive rotoscoped animation, Warner Bros spends over $200,000 on the promotional video. Once MTV puts the clip in heavy rotation, the buzz generated by the innovative visuals of the infectious song spreads to radio.
For the promotional release of the single, Warner Bros in the US prints a special gatefold picture sleeve/booklet (using the UK sleeve design for the front and back covers) featuring photos of the band and animated still shots from the music video. In later years, the limited promo “comic book” sleeve becomes a sought after collector’s item. Entering the Hot 100 at #91 on July 13, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. The success of “Take On Me” propels a-ha’s debut album “Hunting High And Low” to Platinum status in the US and several other countries. “Take On Me” spends twenty seven weeks on the Hot 100, tying with Diana Ross’ “Missing You” for the longest run on the chart that year. The video is nominated for eight MTV Video Music Awards (winning six) including Best New Artist and Best Concept Video in 1986.
[…] i didn’t think i had done anything special. i was just singing the way i sang at home every night. when you’re performing, you don’t realize what you sound like or how you’re coming across. you just open your mouth and sing.“ —Michael Jackson
Happy Birthday Applehead, you are forever dancing in our hearts.