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​a-ha

About ​a-ha

A-ha is a Norweigian synth pop group formed in 1982. All ten of their studio albums have either reached #1 or #2 in Norway – the first three also reaching the top 10 in several countries across Europe – with a total of over 35 million sold worldwide. They became a ‘teen pin-up band’ and were followed by screaming, enthusiastic fans. In 2012, all three members were appointed to knighthood in Norway for their contributions to music.

Frontman Morten Harket was lured away from the blues/soul group Soldier Blue in 1982 by keyboardist Magne Furuholmen to join his band with guitarist Paul Waaktaar. When Harket saw a song in Waaktaar’s notebook that was going to be titled either “A-ha” or “A-hem”, he suggested naming the band “A-ha”.

A year later, the band released their debut single “Take On Me” in 1984 to huge success in Norway. However, when the song was re-recorded and re-released alongside their debut album Hunting High And Low in the summer of 1985 it achieved massive international success, reaching #1 in eleven countries. Its success was definitely aided by its groundbreaking, award-winning music video of pencil-sketch animation combined with live-action shots. In 2003, it was voted one of the best music videos ever made.

Their follow-up single “The Sun Always Shines On TV” was also internationally successful, reaching the top 20 in eleven countries. The success of these singles catapulted their debut album into the top 20 in twelve countries. A-ha garnered several awards in 1985 and 1986 including seven Billboard Music Video Awards, eight MTV Video Music Awards, five Spellemannprisen (Norwegian Grammy) Awards, a Bravo Otta Award (German), an Australian Pop Music Award and a nomination for the Best New Artist Grammy.

The band’s massive success continued overseas with their next two albums Scoundrel Days and Stay On These Roads. Both reached the top 20 in ten countries and spawned top 40 singles across Europe. A-ha’s success in the US waned, however, with Scoundrel Days only reaching #78 and Stay On These Roads reaching #148. “Cry Wolf”, the second single from Scoundrel Days would be the band’s last minor hit in the US, reaching #50. Between albums, the band recorded “The Living Daylights”, the only James Bond movie theme song not made by an American or British artist/band. It was a top 30 hit in ten countries.

The lead single of the band’s 1990 fourth album East of the Sun, West of the Moon, a cover of the Everly Brothers' “Crying In The Rain”, reached the top 30 in eight countries overseas. Other singles from the album found modest success in a few European countries. The following year A-Ha broke a world record when they performed to 196,000 paying fans in Rio De Janeiro. This would be the end of the band’s peak era.

1993’s Memorial Beach was the band’s first ablum not to achieve Gold or Platinum sales certification. It was deemed a ‘commercial failure’ and the band split in 1994 with Furuholmen focusing on art and Waaktaar forming the band Savoy.

In 1998, a-ha reunited to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize concert, playing “The Sun Always Shines On TV” and a new song quickly written for that night titled “Summer Moved On”. Originally there were no plans beyond this show, but a 2000 release of the studio recording of “Summer Moved On” found top 40 success in five countries. It was accompanied by their sixth album Minor Earth Major Sky.

Lifelines, Analogue and Foot Of The Mountain came out between 2002 and 2009 and found their biggest success in Norway, Austria and Germany. During this time, A-ha returned to the US to perform for their first time since 1986, played for 120,000 people in Oslo (in what was determined to be the largest concert ever held in Norway), and released a cover of John Lennon’s “#9 Dream” for Amnesty International.

A-Ha called it quits again in 2009, announcing a 2010 farewell tour. They released the live album Ending On A High Note the following year.

On March 21, 2015 they reunited a second time and released Cast In Steel followed by a world tour. The album reached the top 5 in five countries despite having no charting singles. In 2017, the band performed an acoustic set for MTV Unplugged, releasing it as MTV Unplugged: Summer Solstice, and then toured the world again in 2018.

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