Take On Me

Ag, you must know what’s coming. Yes, it’s ANOTHER cover version of a-ha’s biggest hit* Take On Me, this time by Brooklyn Duo and Ensemble Connect.

You’ll note a violin, a viola, two cellos, a double bass, a piano (big black thing at the back), a trombone, a bassoon and a very enthusiastic clarinet.


Lovely version, and a hat-tip to whoever tied in Magne’s keyboard solo to  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1899 Flight of the Bumble Beagle.

I have now heard 261 cover versions of this song, but this one is a real original, and must rate somewhere in the top 10.

* terms and conditions apply

1 hit wonders?

Here’s a Facebook ad for an upcoming show at the musical theatre beyond the Boerewors Gordyn.

Fullscreen capture 2016-07-26 103452 AM.bmp

Let me help you out with the (not so) small print:

Get ready to party to the ultimate 1 Hit Wonders!

Sounds good.

Enjoy songs like Do You Love Me, Play That Funky Music, Kung Fu Fighting, You Spin Me Round, Take On Me, 99 Red Balloons & more

u wot m8?

Remember those songs? Of course you do. The Contours, Wild Cherry, Carl Douglas, Dead or Alive. They gave us such memories, and then they disappeared without trace. Likewise Nena and her red balloons (if you ignore her MASSIVE success in Germany) (which they clearly have).

Hast du etwas Zeit für mich?
Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich
Von neunundneunzig Luftballons
Auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont.


But “Take On Me”? No. Just no. That wasn’t a “1 Hit Wonder’.

And I’m not even annoyed because I’m an a-ha fan. I’m annoyed because it’s plainly incorrect. How can a song which wasn’t even their biggest hit be a “1 Hit Wonder”?

Let’s compare: Carl Douglas hit the top of the charts with Kung Fu Fighting back in 1974. He was NEVER heard of EVER. AGAIN. He disappeared as fast as lightning. In fact, the way he vanished was actually a little bit frightening.

But I digress. Often.

Now, I’ve nothing against Carl. His name will live on in the Hall of Fame through cheesy discos and pub quizzes forever more. And fair play to him. But…

Let’s have a look at a-ha: Take On Me was a number 2 hit for them in October 1985.
Just two months later, they released The Sun Always Shines On TV.
It went to number 1, clearly making it a bigger hit than Take On Me.
But whether it was bigger or not is actually beside the point. It was also a hit. A second hit.
This ridiculous success immediately ruined a-ha’s “1 Hit Wonder” status, a status which had only lasted for about 60 days. The further 7 Top 10 hits which they then went on to have over the next 30-odd years also kind of cemented their reputation as clearly not being 1 Hit Wonders. For me, at least. And everyone else with any sort of rudimentary intelligence.

And yet they’ve been dumped in with Wild Cherry and The Contours.


Look, I’ve been to a show there before and it was slick, professional and fun. I’m sure that this one will be as well. But underlying the whole production is the sickening inaccuracy I have described above. If you’re going along, I suggest that you try to overlook the invalid and plainly false information on which the entire show is based.

Because any other approach would surely ruin your experience.

Strange and beautiful

Many of you won’t remember Matt Hales’ 2002 hit Strange and Beautiful until firstly, I point out that he recorded it under the name “Aqualung” and secondly, you hear it.
And yes, it was truly bewitching. But then he did this – a cover of a-ha’s Take On Me – and it’s utterly, spine-tinglingly beautiful.

As I write, there’s a free download link on that soundcloud page as well (top right).

Grey’s Anatomy fans will recognise it from episode 24 of the current (tenth) series, you know, that bit when Meredith and Cristina [spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler]. But look, put it this way, given the gentle nature of the cover, it’s not a happy happy joy joy moment.

I don’t know if Magne watches Grey’s Anatomy, but he does like the song:

I think Matt Hales is a very talented writer and performer, and have personally been much inspired by his Aqualung project.
Of the many covers done of take on me over the years, this one is perhaps the furthest from the original, and in my view therefore the most interesting.

And you know what? I’ve got 15 different cover versions of Take On Me on my iPod and I’m with him on this. Very special.

New US VW ad is a take on Take On Me

I like this, for obvious reasons.

But then I can hit that high note too.

a-ha’s “Take On Me”, played by North Korean accordion group

Incoming from Jacques:

In case you’ve never encountered this.
I’m told by a friend-of-a-friend on FB that: “Apparently a member of a-ha went there (cant remember why) and took a CD. Within three days the group came up with this arrangement. They had no sheet music or anything other than the CD to work off.”

Obviously, I haven’t encountered this. If I had encountered this, it would have been all over the blog the day that I encountered  it. Just like it is today, which is the first day I have encountered it.


Brilliant. It’s on accordions, it’s in North Korea, there’s an austere painting and some fake sunflowers behind them and the guy on the right (as we’re looking) can’t stop swaying. And then it ends, abruptly. And there’s no applause.

In my mind, there can be no better example of an 1980’s hit played by a quintet on instruments of the bellows-driven, free-reed aerophone family in a politically-closed Asian country. And I’ve seen a few: who could forget that cover of Club Tropicana, played on pitch pipes by that 5-piece from Myanmar, for example?

What I can’t understand is why it only has 5,000 views in the three days that it has been on YouTube. This has every single element of  the perfect viral video: we’re obviously just in the incubation phase right now. All of us now have the duty to spread the disease as widely as possible. Admit it, another piece of your life’s jigsaw clicked into place the moment you watched this – what gives you the right to deny others that experience? Who made you god?

Go – click the share button. Spread the wealth.

Thanks Jacques

UPDATE: (via @ColinMac7 on twitter) 

alas, not every Norwegian is a member of AHA, and there has been more than a million YT hits tinyurl.com/73yfjuh

So it’s a Morten Traavik (and not Morten Harket) that took the CD to North Korea. And there’s the full story (and an epic photo of him) on the BBC page via that link.