Of all the Norwegian acts I know of (which is very few, I admit), a-ha is my favourite. Today, Norway's music scene (at least according to Internet memes) is more famous for its church-burning heavy metal, but there was once a time where it was more glamorous. a-ha is probably Norway's biggest musical export, apart from ABBA's Anni-Frid Lyngstad, who is actually half Norwegian and half German.
This compilation covers their hit singles from 1985 to 1991. The tracklist goes a little something like this:
1. Take on Me
2. Cry Wolf
4. You Are the One (Remix)
5. Manhattan Skyline
6. The Blood That Moves the Body
7. Early Morning
8. Hunting High and Low (Remix)
9. Move to Memphis
10. I've Been Losing You
11. The Living Daylights
12. Crying in the Rain
13. I Call Your Name
14. Stay on These Roads
15. Train of Thought (Remix)
16. The Sun Always Shines on T.V.
"Take on Me", obviously, is their most famous song. I first heard it around the time it came out, and it brings back fond memories of that era. Even though I was only 4 at the time.
"Cry Wolf" starts off with what appears to be a live audience during the intro, but it fades away after a few seconds. Something I haven't really been inspired enough to do in my own recordings yet. Probably because I'm not sure of the point behind it - but that's just me. Whatever the reason, it sounds good on this track. Good song either way.
"Touchy!" is a happy-sounding pop song, and rather catchy.
"You Are the One" has a good synth riff, and the hard-hitting beat from the remix does it justice.
"Manhattan Skyline" has more of a rock flavour, and probably has the heaviest guitar you'll get (during the chorus) from an a-ha song.
"The Blood That Moves the Body" isn't a song for doing workouts, but still good in any setting you listen to it.
"Early Morning" is one of the softer mid-tempo songs, and has a slight mysterious feel to it.
"Hunting High and Low" is probably their best ballad, in my opinion. The remix version adds a string section, which gives it more power. Bravo.
"Move to Memphis" is the lead single from this compilation as it was a new track at the time. It has a cool and cruisy feel to it. Recommended for any road trip albums you plan on compiling.
"I've Been Losing You" is a song I often think about recording a cover version of, but have doubts about whether or not I'd spoil such a good thing.
"The Living Daylights" should be recognised straight away, especially if you're a fan of James Bond. Co-written with John Barry to feature in the 1987 Timothy Dalton film of the same name, this song ranks in my Top 5 a-ha songs, for sure.
"Crying in the Rain" is the only cover song on this compilation, and is originally a track by the Everly Brothers. I'm very picky with cover songs, but this one passes with flying colours.
"I Call Your Name" is my least favourite song on the album, but I still like it very much - which says a lot about the album, right?
"Stay on These Roads" is an underrated power ballad that should be taken more seriously.
"Train of Thought" originally appears on a-ha's debut album and is not quite as upbeat as this remixed version. This version is way more danceable than the album track.
"The Sun Always Shines on T.V." is a classic by right. Accompanied by a music video that is 'sort of' a sequel to the one "Take on Me" has, simply because the intro is a continuation of the story...until it goes in a different direction soon after. This one is hard-hitting and will get your blood pumping more than "The Blood That Moves the Body" does (not to say anything bad about that song, by the way).
I recommend this compilation to everyone, but if there's an updated compilation album by a-ha that features all of these tracks and everything else they released, by all means get that one as well. This compilation gets 10/10 from me.
Below are 5 classic a-ha music videos. Enjoy!