Last week, I mentioned one of my favorite questions: Why did anyone make a second music video of the same song? Here’s a good example of an excellent reason for a video remake.
The Norwegian band a-ha made it big right off the bat, but only in Norway. Its first big hit, Take On Me, hit #3 in Norway but didn’t make a dent anywhere else. The video for that song is shown above.
Enter Irish director Steve Barron, best known at that point for the ground-breaking video for Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. Barron animated a rotoscoped comic book story featuring a-ha lead singer Morten Harket as a motorcycle racer. Both Harket and the other lead character, then-girlfriend Bunty Bailey, carry off their roles well, a testament to Barron’s ability.
Thanks to the video and its frequent play on MTV, the re-release of Take On Me shot to #1 in the US, Australia, Norway and Sweden, #2 in the UK and Ireland, #3 in France. Although the band persisted for decades and had many other European hits, I’d say that folks in the US know them almost solely as the band in this video.
At the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, Take On Me won awards for Best Concept Video and Best Direction, but lost out on Video of the Year. More about that in a later installment. For now, enjoy this Pop-Up version.