Thursday, September 1, 2011

A-ha: Take On Me

Recently, GEICO has been featuring a commercial that has a version of the A-ha hit from 1985 being played by Mr. Butters and his pet cockatoo. While the commercial is amusing it mimics one of the biggest hits of 1985, the rise to the number one slot by this Norwegian band was not easy.


The Original Version and Video

“Take On Me” started out as “The Juicy Fruit Song” and was recorded by the band Bridges – an early version of the band A-ha. When A-ha was formed, the song had evolved into a version named “Lesson One.” After deconstructing and reconstructing the tune, A-ha transformed the song into a recognizable version of what would become a hit as “Take on Me.”

In 1984, A-ha recorded the original version of “Take on Me” and filmed a video of the band in a mock concert setting. Although this rendition is somewhat different from the hit, their performance is as good – just different; however, the video was not outstanding enough to capture the attention of audiences. While the vocals are very similar to later version, the keyboard accompaniment is different and worth a listen. I personally like the ending on the 1984 non-hit recording better than the actual hit.

The Hit Version sans video

In 1985, A-ha returned to the studio to re-record “Take on Me” with production assistance from Alan Tarney. This version was released internationally; however, it did not capture the attention of audiences and, therefore, failed to chart.

The Hit Version with video

To support the single, the band cut a video that was unusual in that it married live action with rotoscoped images. The same version of the single was re-released; however, it was supported by this groundbreaking video. The addition of the video proved that the “third time’s a charm” for A-ha. The song peaked at #2 in the UK and was a #1 single in the US. A-ha was the first Norwegian artist to have an American #1 single.

In addition, the band captured six of the eight MTV awards for which they were nominated. They were also nominated for Best Video in 1986 by the American Music Awards; however, Huey Lewis and the News’ “The Power of Love” garnered the top slot.

12-inch Remix

As was done with many single releases in the ‘80s, A-ha remixed the single into a 12-inch dance record. The maxi-single peaked at #36 on the dance charts.

The GEICO commercial


  1. Here's the full story -

  2. No'am:

    Thanks for the link - definitely goes into much more detail.