It was 1985 when the song “Take on Me” by A-Ha first appeared on MTV. It would be impossible for anyone who grew up in the 1980s to not remember this unforgettable music video.
The moment you heard the beats from the synthesizer coming over the speaker, your feet started tapping to the beat. And of course who could forget the iconic music video?
The sheer amount of work that went into the very popular music video that won 6 MTV awards in 1986 was incredible, and it featured a smooth transition from comic strip to real life.
Take On Me By A-ha
Regardless of whether you can remember all of the lyrics of the song, when you think of “Take on Me” the first thing that comes to mind is the wildly enchanting synthesizer riff. Amazingly enough, it was band member Magne Furuholmen who originally came up with the riff when he was only 15 years old.
Later, he would team up with Pål Waaktaar to form a band called “Bridges”, where the riff became an integral part of their song “Miss Eerie”. The song, however, was a flop.
The Slow Rise Of “Take On Me”
While the original song “Miss Eerie” never gained any traction, the band would eventually sign with Warner Bros. in the United Kingdom. Under their first recording contract, Magne Furuholmen and Pål Waaktaar would record the song “Take on Me” for the very first time. The entire demo was recorded using electronic instruments but didn’t create the sound that the band had wanted to achieve.
Climbing only to number 137 on the UK singles chart, “Take on Me” was considered by Warner Bros. to be a flop. However, their US counterpart, decided that they would invest in the future of A-Ha, and remix the entire song in order to improve its listening value.
Even after learning about the failure of “Take on Me” to reach even the top 100, Warner Bros. US decided to give the song another chance. A lot of time and effort was invested into the band and the re-recording of their single, and when it was re-released in the UK, it flopped for a 2nd time.
But Warner Bros. was not about to give up on A-Ha and decided that it was time to take advantage of the growing popularity of music videos. With the help of MTV, “Take on Me” made its way all the way to the number one spot in the US, and to the number 2 spot in the UK.
The “Take On Me” Music Video
The music video itself was a work of art. Filming for the music video took place at a café that once stood at the corner of Pennsbury Place and Wadsworth Road in London. Once the video portion was complete, it was time to add the animations which made the song a true success.
For over 16 weeks, a total of 3000 frames of video were retroscoped in order to create the flawless movements of the pencil-sketch characters.
In 1986, A-Ha took home 6 awards during the MTV music awards. Today, the official music video has been viewed more than 1.5 billion times on YouTube, cementing the song as one of the finest examples of what a 1980s music video should be.