A-ha - Take On Me
October 10, 2017 7:57 AM   Subscribe

A-ha - Take On Me (2017 Unplugged). Time carries on and none of us are as young as we used to be. But it's not all bad. A-ha gives us a contemplative version of the old pop hit.

If you were left yearning for glorious high note in the original and wonder if Morten still has it, wonder no more.

And for comparisons sake, the original version.
posted by severiina (80 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Old Man Sings Sad Song"
posted by OverlappingElvis at 8:05 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


It was always a sad song! I mean, they both almost got stuck in the comic book!
posted by chavenet at 8:07 AM on October 10 [32 favorites]


2017 Unplugged

Those who do not remember the 1990s are condemned to repeat them
posted by thelonius at 8:09 AM on October 10 [19 favorites]


That was really lovely. The song works that way much better than I expected.

"Slowly learning that life is OK," indeed.
posted by dnash at 8:10 AM on October 10 [8 favorites]


I love this, thank you.
posted by Mavri at 8:12 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]




none of us are as young as we used to be

Morten Harket, the lead singer, is trying his best to prove you wrong. I wouldn’t say he doesn’t age, but he looks about ten years older than he did when the song became a hit a third of a century ago.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:19 AM on October 10 [12 favorites]


I had gotten this album (well, cassette, but) as a gift. I wasn't really into A-Ha, though I thought this tune was catchy.

It was a solid album though. I thought The Sun Always Shines on TV was the better song.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:20 AM on October 10 [15 favorites]


Vibrotronica, that hits a spot i did not know i had. Thank you.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 8:22 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


Ohdeargod, if you need me I'll be over here weeping under a blanket. So beautiful.
posted by VioletU at 8:25 AM on October 10 [6 favorites]


Every now and then when my son and I want to torture my wife we'll play this version. I don't have an ear for music so I don't even notice much of a difference from the original but once the pre-chorus hits she runs from the room screaming.
posted by bondcliff at 8:29 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]




For some reason this song is tied in my memory to a trip to rehab. I don't know if it's something in the lyrics or if I heard it on the way or shortly after arriving or what. I honestly don't remember much leading up to my stay. It's not a bad association because it's a good song and it was a good experience.

This version though. It's so beautiful and sad and it makes me think of the amazing people I met during my stay who didn't make it out the other side with me. I'll cry at some weird things because bottling everything up all the time will do that, but I didn't think it'd be "Take On Me" or really much of anything Unplugged.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:34 AM on October 10 [13 favorites]


I am reminded of another in the same realm of old pop songs recast with new context -- Young@Heart - Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:39 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


There's even a twee ukelele-and-xylophone version, if you can tolerate that sort of thing
posted by pipeski at 8:45 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Sara Bareilles covered it, it's floating around YouTube, during a concert. It's lovely.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 8:48 AM on October 10


Sobbing and sniffling. Dog looking deeply concerned.
posted by mochapickle at 8:48 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Wait, didn’t Pyongyang produce the definitive version?
posted by rh at 8:49 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]


Dude looks good. Until this moment I had no idea they were Norwegian.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:56 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Those 80s hits sound much better unplugged than I would have thought at the time. See, e.g. Mad World.
posted by janey47 at 9:00 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]




There's even a twee ukelele-and-xylophone version, if you can tolerate that sort of thing

Tolerate it? It's like it was written for me!
posted by maxsparber at 9:05 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]


It was a solid album though. I thought The Sun Always Shines on TV was the better song.

Pogo_Fuzzybutt, you are not wrong at all. And they also did that one as part of the Unplugged show. And it's SOOO GOOD.
posted by hanov3r at 9:06 AM on October 10 [7 favorites]


a-ha has always been one of my favorite underrated bands. I've been meaning to set aside time to watch the full Unplugged set (I, too, was dubious about the Unplugged revival...or continuation, not actually sure what's the sitch there, but everything I've seen from this just looks glorious) and see if they did "Summer Moved On," which in my opinion is the a-ha song with the Definitive Morten Harket High Note.

Also dude is 58 and looks ten years younger and frankly could still get it. *fans self*
posted by angeline at 9:06 AM on October 10 [8 favorites]


My favorite cover
posted by grobstein at 9:11 AM on October 10 [12 favorites]




Three observations:

1) Morten Harket looks very well conserved indeed
2) I never knew that it was "in a day or two" at the end of the chorus until now
3) bloody hell, that packs a punch ... so so sad
posted by MartinWisse at 9:18 AM on October 10 [10 favorites]


Man, that works a lot better than "check it out, it's a slow melancholy version of an uptempo pop song" often tends to. Helps that it's them, somehow; I think that kind of reinterpretation can work as a second-hand thing just fine too, but listening to people reinterpret their own work always has some extra sizzle for me.
posted by cortex at 9:20 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]


It always makes me think of Saints Row 2.
posted by MrVisible at 9:21 AM on October 10 [3 favorites]


Yeah, underrated as a band for sure. At least the first two albums, in my opinion. Some really great lyrics. Blue Sky always stood out to me:

I'm dying to be different
In the coffee shop
I've lived on borrowed strength
Now my supplies are cut
Though I'm older than my looks
And older than my years
I'm too young to take on
My deepest fears

Oh, I used to be confused
But now I just don't know
Since you left I've been watching
Blue skies come and go

posted by dnash at 9:24 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]


Expectedly different, unexpectedly beautiful.
posted by lilies.lilies at 9:25 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


It was a solid album though. I thought The Sun Always Shines on TV was the better song.

Aptly proven by the unplugged version from this same session!
posted by TwoWordReview at 9:25 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Morten Harket looks amazing, and this rendition was lovely.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:32 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Is this thread just going to be people posting their favorite covers? Fine with me - Ely Bruna (filed under down-tempo-acoustic , does not hit the high note)
posted by AndrewStephens at 9:41 AM on October 10


I read somewhere a long while back that a-ha was revered in Norway to a degree unknown to any band in the U.S. and probably England. To the degree that, like, if you went into any community in Norway and said "a-ha sucks," you'd get your ass kicked.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:46 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


if you went into any community in Norway and said "a-ha sucks," you'd get your ass kicked

Like when I pronounced, at a party in Chapel Hill, that The Squirrel Nut Zippers were a "novelty act". Had to pass out all my cigars to get out of that in one piece!
posted by thelonius at 9:49 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


Those who do not remember the 1990s are condemned to repeat them

You want the 1990s? I'll show you the 1990s, my friend.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:51 AM on October 10 [7 favorites]


I loved this.

I also loved their song "I've Been Losing You."
posted by Joey Michaels at 9:53 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


You want the 1990s? I'll show you the 1990s , my friend.

Those guys are good, but they're no Big Fish Ensemble
posted by thelonius at 9:57 AM on October 10


Gosh, I'd always thought they were Swedish. I'm glad I never mentioned that to any Norwegian person.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:09 AM on October 10 [4 favorites]


Oh man this version is so beautiful. I'm all choked up.
posted by kimberussell at 10:13 AM on October 10 [1 favorite]




I remember there was an AskMe where the Asker was in young and presumed that middle-aged people sadly lusted after people who were in their twenties and I was all "no, no, as you get older the people you lust after also get older and are very attractive."

No idea why that came to mind just now.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:12 AM on October 10 [26 favorites]


I loved this song so much when I first saw the video that I went to the record store on the day it was released and waited for it to come in so I could buy it. I'd never done that for another album before or since. No idea why it hits me so deep in the like spot, but it's fmfmmffgmmm years later and it's still the ringtone on my phone. And this morning it came on the radio in my car share and I reached for my phone only to get the joy of hearing the whole song - and after a few notes the driver turned it up, so I know that the universe is still basically good. And now this.

This version is good, and having just the chorus sample from this version show up in the credits of the LEGO movie was also good, and I love all of you and that's all I have to say right now.
posted by Mchelly at 11:18 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]


none of us are as young as we used to be

you're 13, it's the summer of '85, you finally discover MTV, and all a sudden there's This Video with This Beat and This Accent and you're like WHAT THE --.

It was so, so different from the pop hooks at the time, backed with a gimmicky video that really worked. Yes, there were better artists and songs at the time, even better videos, but damn did it hit a 13 year old boy whose family could barely afford cable right in the future sentimentals.

To hear this is sad. Also happy. I mean, as corpse said, the older you get, the people you lust for stay attractive. To hear it like this is like feeling it again with the years and mileage on.

Anyway. All that to say this is my current favorite cover version of it.
posted by dw at 11:20 AM on October 10 [5 favorites]


you're 13, it's the summer of '85, you finally discover MTV, and all a sudden there's This Video with This Beat and This Accent and you're like WHAT THE --.

If you were lucky you could watch Night Tracks as early as 1983 on Friday and Saturday nights at 9:05 pm and your parents let you stay up as late as you wanted watching music videos.

Is this thread just going to be people posting their favorite covers?

It is now!
Honk on Me
from The Bike Horn Collection Volume 3​:​Ceci n'est pas une klaxon

posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:31 AM on October 10 [6 favorites]


Of course, it's a great song and an incredible band too. But I have always thought that youth or old age is more a matter of attitude, or rather, of how one feels about the time in which one lives. Regards!
posted by pedrohal at 11:55 AM on October 10 [2 favorites]


What really does it for me in this song isn't just the slowing and softening but also the slight chord change that happens in the chorus, on "be" of "I'll be gone." That really gives it the lonesome sound, to me.

And in the bridge, when the familiar riff comes in for the first time - that's nice too.
posted by entropone at 12:06 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]


I'm so excited to see this. A-ha has been my favorite band since their first album. I may be in my mid-40s, but I squealed like a teenage fangirl with I found out they are set to play here in the States in the next year or so. It's a lifelong dream to see them live.

I listened to the entire Unplugged album over the weekend and really enjoyed it. Did y'all know Alison Moyet and Ian McCullough came and performed with them on a few songs? Nice surprise!

"Take on Me" was very moving as an unplugged/slowed down version, and one of their new songs, "This is Our Home," brought me to tears. Very timely lyrics. I've ordered a copy of the CD and DVD from Amazon in Germany and am counting the days til it gets here.
posted by jhope71 at 12:18 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Morten's voice has held up very well, lovely and smooth. He doesn't feel like he's straining.

Is that a hearing aid that he has, or part of the mike/sound system? My immediate go-to was hearing aid and that gave a little twinge of sadness.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:38 PM on October 10


No, that's an in-ear monitor, so he can hear the rest of the instruments clearly.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 12:41 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Oh, good. I hoped it was something like that.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:45 PM on October 10


Have a chaser to the OP: the Scorpions doing an Unplugged version of Winds of Change with guest vocals by...Morten Harket.

There's a collab I would have never expected in a million years.
posted by Eikonaut at 1:22 PM on October 10 [6 favorites]


I remember there was an AskMe where the Asker was in young and presumed that middle-aged people sadly lusted after people who were in their twenties and I was all "no, no, as you get older the people you lust after also get older and are very attractive."

Not to derail the thread entirely, but case in point.
posted by Lexica at 1:24 PM on October 10 [5 favorites]


Underrated? But they were huge in Europe!

Also, this was too sadly sweet, now I need a pick me up.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:47 PM on October 10


Fifty-fuckin'-eight? That cannae be. It is The Best Video of All Time. Really, MTV should have shut down afterwards because nothing topped this for originality and creativity and sheer gorgeousness.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:02 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]


> Not to derail the thread entirely, but case in point

Admittedly I'm not the OP or a mod but I approve heartily of this detour.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:10 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Underrated? But they were huge in Europe!

But I'm in America and it turns out people really frown on you grabbing them by the lapels and screaming that they need to listen to "Lifelines" and "Minor Earth, Major Sky" RIGHT NOW I SAID RIGHT NOW.

(they DO need to, though)
posted by angeline at 3:12 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


My favorite has reggae and a ukulele.
I've been playing it this way for many years now.
posted by MtDewd at 3:29 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Morten's voice has held up very well, lovely and smooth. He doesn't feel like he's straining.

Though I noticed that he took those extra-high notes for "in a day or two" down an octave. I wonder whether that was due to necessity (less-youthful vocal chords), or to better fit the song's more laid-back style.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:33 PM on October 10


My favourite version is Harry Hill's re-imagining of the video. In his version, its mostly about sausages. Probably NSF-Non-Brits
posted by memebake at 3:43 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


When this song came out, I was a freshman in high school, living in rural Wisconsin. We didn't have cable and no one I knew had cable. The only way I could watch music videos was Friday Night Videos, which came on late, and the rabbit ears barely got any reception. My sister and I recorded it on VHS so we could watch them more than once. I tell my teenager about this harsh existence and she thinks I'm lying.

So right around that time, my family took a vacation to Hawaii. We were unpacking in the hotel room and I turned MTV on the television. The video for Take On Me came on, and I was instantly smitten. But I didn't catch the name of the song or the band! I decided at that moment I wasn't leaving the hotel room until I saw the video again. Because fuck knows how long it would take for Friday Night Videos to play it, if they ever did, and if I couldn't buy the album that the song came from as soon as I could make it to Minneapolis to go shopping, my life would surely not be worth living.

Fortunately for me, I only had to fake a headache for a little while; the video was played again a couple hours later and I was able to join my family to enjoy the beauty of Hawaii.

I was moderately obsessed with a-ha for a year or so, until I dived into the Minneapolis music scene and didn't look back. This brings back lots of fond memories of being a high school kid in the 80s.
posted by chaoticgood at 3:45 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]


This was so good. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:19 PM on October 10


Damn, but all three of those guys aged so gracefully. Morten's voice is still beautiful...
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 5:52 PM on October 10


PUNK SKA COVER FROM REEL BIG FISH CRANK IT UP
posted by tzikeh at 6:11 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Nice. This was an unexpected treat for a difficult week :)

I always love it when travelling in any of the Nordic countries and tuning in to one of NRK channels in a hotel room, I always have a 50/50 chance to find Morten Harket interviewed, singing, judging in Norwegian reality shows, or just hanging out in a tv studio for no reason at all :)
posted by Ender's Friend at 8:17 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Oh my gosh, The Sun Always Shines on TV from the link above is even better!
posted by Ender's Friend at 8:24 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


OMG, they also did Stay on These Roads in the unplugged version?? HIT PURCHASE SO FAST THAT MY BROWSER FROZE

(Link to Amazon sample, can't find it on YouTube.)
posted by Ender's Friend at 8:35 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Random bit of trivia: the woman in the 1985 video is an actress/model/dancer with the sheerly delightful hobbitish name of Bunty Bailey. She also appears as a back-up singer in Billy Idol’s “To Be A Lover” and a-ha’s “The Sun Always Shines on TV.” (Sorry, no links: I am on my phone.)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:52 PM on October 10 [3 favorites]


Someone really needs to rotoscope this video.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:39 PM on October 10


the woman in the 1985 video is an actress/model/dancer with the sheerly delightful hobbitish name of Bunty Bailey.

She and Morten Harket became girlfriend & boyfriend. They were immediately attracted to each other when they met on the set for "Take On Me" -- so the chemistry between the two in the video is the real thing. (Why do I still know all this a-ha trivia??!)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 9:47 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


a-ha data
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:51 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


> I remember there was an AskMe where the Asker was in young and presumed that middle-aged people sadly lusted after people who were in their twenties and I was all "no, no, as you get older the people you lust after also get older and are very attractive." No idea why that came to mind just now.

Mmmhmmmm.

/look people I am not a person who is prone to crushes but seriously
posted by desuetude at 11:14 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


What entropone said. Whatever is happening on "be" in that phrase is magical. This is a lovely version of an evergreen rock song. Thanks, severiina.
posted by bryon at 12:57 AM on October 11


[Key of A major] C#7 played when your ear is expecting an E.
(not to deny the magic)
posted by MtDewd at 8:53 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]


And the way the beat switches to half-time (or whatever) at "I'll be gone," is perfect for stomping or doing the pogo while you're dancing to it.
posted by mabelstreet at 8:55 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]


I pulled the album up on Spotify while I was running around doing errands last night. What I got to hear was lovely (and funny - "Welcome to, uh, the middle of No...rway," at the beginning, and lo, did I giggle. Giske does indeed appear to be a rather remote island even by Norwegian standards). They DID do "Summer Moved On," with Alison Moyet. It was dreamy. I'm going to listen to the rest of the album now.
posted by angeline at 9:39 AM on October 11


[Key of A major] C#7 played when your ear is expecting an E.

I think in the first inversion (E# (yes I went there!) in the bass) too
posted by thelonius at 10:38 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]


you guys can't forget about the North Korean accordion cover

edit: did not think to search the thread for "Pyongyang"
posted by numaner at 12:29 PM on October 11


I think Harrison Ford looks and sounds amazing in this.
posted by Metro Gnome at 1:41 PM on October 16


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