|FORMED: 1977, Oslo, Norway
Pal Waaktaar and Magne Furuholmen, formerly of Bridges formed a-ha in the early '80s. Morten Harket joined the duo, and they left for the now 'legendary London flat' (so called because of its state of disrepair) to make it! By late '83 they had achieved part of that goal by signing to WEA. "Take on Me" took three times to become a hit in the UK, eventually hitting #2 in November 1985. Going one better in the U.S. mainly due to the wide exposure of its stunning video on MTV, which fused animation with real life action, their only further hit there was "The Sun Always Shines on TV" which became a UK #1 in early '86 helping take the album Hunting High and Low to the Top 10.
Mostly an album of synth-pop, the press were quick to dismiss them as a teeny bop sensation; however, there was more to a-ha than met the ear in Waaktaar's writing and a matured effort Scoundrel Days, which was released in October, 1986. More focused, it had a stronger band feel thanks to live drumming displayed to great lengths on "Swing Of Things and lead single "I've Been Losing You" -- a shock to critics at the time. Further striking imagery accompanied "Cry Wolf." After a world tour, a-ha supplied the soundtrack to the James Bond flick The Living Daylights. A remix appeared on their third album, Stay On These Roads, in 1988. Considered lackluster, Stay On These Roads did feature some interesting lyrics in "Blood That Moves the Body," regarding the over-intense affection the Japanese had for popular icons in their kamikaze-like suicides. On a lighter note, one of the famous quotes of this period came from Waaktaar. Commenting on Def Leopard's success with Hysteria, he scoffed that a-ha were more rock & roll! In 1990, a-ha were commended by the Everly Brothers for their rendition of "Crying In The Rain" from their fourth album, East of the Sun, West of the Moon, which was largely ignored in the U.K. due to a shift in interests towards dance and Manchester scene.
1993 heralded some much needed new blood in the U2 terrain of "Dark is the Night" from the Memorial Beach album. Following the unfortunate lack of success following Memorial Beach, Furuholmen retreated into the art world while Harket married longtime girlfriend Lauren Savoy. The couple released the album Mary Is Coming in 1996. Seven years after the release of Memorial Beach, a-ha issued Minor Earth Major Sky in summer 2000. ~ Kelvin Hayes, All Music Guide