A-Ha / Hunting High And Low

Hunting High & Low

a-ha (normally spelled entirely in lower-case) is a rock/pop music band from Norway. The band was founded in 1982 by Morten Harket (vocals), Magne Furuholmen (keyboards), and Pål Waaktaar (guitars). The group initially rose to fame during the mid 1980s after being discovered by musician and producer John Ratcliff and has had continued global success in the 1990s and 2000s. According to their official website, they have sold over 35 million albums worldwide plus more than 15 million singles [1], making them the best-selling Norwegian music act in history.

a-ha achieved their biggest success with their debut album, Hunting High and Low, in 1985. That album peaked at number 1 in their native Norway, number 2 in the UK and number 15 on the U.S. Billboard album chart, yielded two international number-one singles, “Take on Me” and “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.“, and earned the band a Grammy Award nomination as Best New Artist. In the UK, Hunting High and Low continued its chart success into the following year, becoming one of the best-selling albums of 1986.[2] In 1994, after their fifth studio album, the band went on a hiatus.

Following a performance at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 1998, the band returned to the studio and recorded their sixth album, 2000’s Minor Earth Major Sky, which was another number-one in Norway and resulted in a new tour. A seventh studio album, Lifelines, was released in 2002, and an eighth album, Analogue, in 2005, was certified Silver in the UK — their most successful album there since 1990’s East of the Sun, West of the Moon.[3] Their ninth album, Foot of the Mountain, was first released on 19 June 2009 and returned the band to the UK Top 5 for the first time since 1988, being certified Silver there and Platinum in Germany. [4] The album peaked at number 2 in Norway (their first not to reach number 1 in their home territory). On 15 October 2009, the band announced they would split after a worldwide tour in 2010,[5] the Ending On A High Note tour,[6][7] which will culminate in three farewell shows in Oslo on 2, 3 and 4 December 2010.

The Analysis:

Take On Me—-It is hard to know whether this actual song or the video to the song was more popular for this band. The trademark 80’s classic sound is all over this track…the pop happy boys delivered a masterful first single. The vocal is standout for me, Morten hits some high notes that are literally incredible as well as delivering a phrasing that is unique. This is a standout track from 1985, and one I never tire of hearing.

Train Of Thought—-With a much stronger 80’s inspired synth line, this is a classic track. The vocal is unique in the fact that it differs so much from the previous track. At times, the monotone delivery reminds me so much of Midge Ure and Ultravox…you can sure tell these guys are less than American. This has a magnificent and addictive beat…proving that there was much more substance than met the eye. This is fabulous.

 Hunting High And Low—-Beginning the song with a simple acoustic guitar and a voice that is sent from heaven, this is still fantastic. The slight synth line that runs underneath of the song is magnificent and adds to the melancholy feel of the song. Although this is a rather sedate track, it fills me with a slight hope that life may get better and reminds me it is not quite time to throw in the towel.

The Blue Sky—-Returning to full on synth pop, this begins with a contagious beat right from the start. Harken delivers a vocal that is so comfortable and accessible it is still surprising that American audiences did not gravitate more to this band. Few people realize the band has had such a successful career right up until this last year. This is bright but still contains a slight melancholy feel that is in sharp contrast to the synth lines…that is the magic I think…it’s all about contrast!

Living Boy’s Adventure Tale—-Harken returns to his slight falsetto for parts of this song…it works so well with the poppy synth line. The song is a bit sedate once again, but the music prevents it from allowing you to fall to deep into the lyrics. This is just as it is…masterful synth pop.

The Sun Always Shines On T.V.—-From the very first moment that i heard this song, I knew that this was the standout for me. I still love this and actually do listen to it regularly. From the very first beginning notes of the song, you are wrapped in synths that just continue to build and build until the track bursts into a huge blazing dance song that lives in your brain for eternity. Harken delivers a fantastic vocal…full of as much energy as the music. This is another standout video as well and the band received heavy rotation in the US with this song as well. To me, this is one of those masterpieces from the decade of excess. Just…Brilliant!!

And You Tell Me—-This rather short and quaint track is full of that classic melancholy that the band is so good at. This has a bit of a bright and poppy side to it, but overall this is rather sedate with a vocal that is so clear you catch every single little nuance of the accent. This is wonderful.

Love Is Reason—-From the onset, this is bright, poppy and synth laden with the band’s trademark sound. the bass beat that runs through the back of the song is just screaming for a great dance floor remix. The vocal is so melodic and simple that you are able to just be lost in the sheer joy of the song…no need for deep thought or examination…just put it on and dance!!!

Dream Myself Alive—-Poppy and rather simple, this has a slight dated sound…telling it’s age rather well for some reason. for me, the highpoint of this track is the vocal. Harken has a slight accent that is so endearing and natural that you find yourself instantly attracted. This is a wonderful synth pop ode that allows you to dance but reminds you it is circa 1985. Still…masterful!

Here I Stand And Face The Rain—-With some slight chants in the backdrop to begin the song with, the synths swirl with a by now familiar melancholy. Morten enters with his vocal…hitting some of those gorgeous high notes again as the song slowly becomes more lively. There seems to be lots of layers with this track…there is a lot going on in this song. This is nice, but not really what I would consider a standout.

**** out of 5


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