Song: “Take On Me” by a-ha
Reached #1: October 19, 1985 (their first, 1 week)
It was always the video.
I mean, the song was OK, but the video – the story of the love between a cartoon character and a real woman – was what made the song #1. That and the fact that women were quite taken by a-ha lead singer Morten Harket as the cartoon biker.
The version of “Take On Me” that we know in the USA was not the original single release. a-ha released the song in a couple of different versions before the reworked version hit #1 worldwide.
This is where the band’s path splits. In the USA, their followup “The Sun Always Shines On T.V.” hit #20, and then the band faded from the American music scene.
In the UK, the band had 6 straight top-10 hits and continued to place singles in the UK Top 20 until 1990.
Of course, at home in Norway, their last #1 was in 2005.
They did the theme song for The Living Daylights – surprisingly for a Bond theme, it didn’t even make the Billboard Hot 100 (“bubbling under” at #113) while going Top 10 across Europe.
After their “Ending On A High Note” tour (which included a week in North America for the first time since 1985), a-ha broke up in 2011.
As part of UK network Channel 4’s 30th anniversary celebration, actress Bunty Bailey (“the girl” in the video) appeared as a mystery guest on their Big Fat Quiz of the ‘80s (a pub-style quiz usually done in late December to recap the year). You can find it on YouTube if you care to search enough…
Tomorrow, a rare case of a Hallowe’en novelty hit going #1 before Hallowe’en…
Other songs that reached #1 on October 19:
1974 – “Nothing From Nothing” by Billy Preston (his second, 1 week)