take on

Take on Me

"Take on Me" is a song by the Norwegian band a-ha. The song is a track from a-ha's first album, Hunting High and Low, released in 1985. The song was originally recorded in 1984 but was remixed for the release of the Hunting High and Low album.

a-ha version

Release and reception

The music video for the song was first broadcast in 1985 on local Boston music video station V-66, and then subsequently on MTV. The innovative video was an amalgamation of rotoscope-style animation and live-action. The video was inspired by the animated film Commuter created by Michael Patterson, and the movie Altered States.

An extended mix of this song appears on the Japan-only 45 R.P.M. Club EP. The music video of another a-ha song, "The Sun Always Shines on T.V.", forms a sequel of sorts.

"Take on Me" was released in the Winter of 1984 but was re-released because of its commercial failure for its first release. When the single was re-released it became the most successful song from Hunting High and Low with "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." on the rock charts, and one of the band's most recognizable and popular songs. The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number two on the British Singles Chart. The song would be a-ha's only number one single in America. At the MTV Video Music Awards on September 5, 1986, the video won six awards.

In 2002, the song was ranked at number 8 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders, although this status is often used incorrectly in the United States when labeling a-ha. Also, in 2006, the song was ranked at number 24 on VH1's "Greatest Songs of the 1980s".

The music video was spoofed by the animated comedy Family Guy in an episode entitled "Breaking Out Is Hard to Do" (Episode number 409). A "literal" parody of the video was created by Dustin McLean of

The song appears in the game Karaoke Revolution Party and all of the Samba de Amigo games.

Music video

The music video, directed by Steve Barron, utilizes extensive rotoscoping. It begins with a young woman (played by actress Bunty Bailey) in a London cafe, reading a comic book about competitive motorcycle racing.

The winner of the race, played by the band's lead vocalist Morten Harket, winks at the girl from the page. A cartoon hand reaches through the comic book, inviting the girl to enter his animated world. Through a creative effect they both view each other through a mirror which shows them (and the band members) alternately in live action and animated.

When the waitress of the cafe comes back for the bill, she finds the girl missing and believes that she has left without paying. She angrily crumples up the comic book and throws it into the wastebasket. As this happens, two of Harket's competitors in the race come back for revenge. One, wielding a pipe wrench, smashes the comic frame. Harket punches one of the thugs, and retreats with the girl into a maze created by the crumpled paper. Harket tears a hole so the girl can escape as he faces the two thugs. The girl reappears on the floor next to the waste basket in the coffee shop, heavily ink-stained, to the surprise of the entire shop cliente and employees. The startled girl grabs the crumpled comic book and runs out of the coffee shop to her home, where she tries to smooth out the creases.

One of the panels shows Harket lying unconscious, and she begins to cry. Harket then wakes up and starts hitting against the edges of the panel. Suddenly, he appears in the girl's room and throws himself back and forth against the corridor walls, flashing between animated and live action. Eventually, he becomes the latter, and he and the girl embrace each other.

There is an earlier version of the music video, featuring the band in live performance.

Track listings

7" single

  1. "Take on Me" (original version) — 3:10
  2. "And You Tell Me" — 1:48 7" single
  3. "Take on Me" — 3:46
  4. "Love Is Reason" — 3:04
7" single

  1. "Take on Me" (LP version) — 3:46
  2. "The Sun Always Shines on TV" (LP version) — 4:30 12" maxi
  3. "Take on Me" (extended version) — 4:45
  4. "Love Is Reason" (LP version) — 3:01
  5. "Take on Me" (single version) — 3:31


Country Certification Date Sales certified
Germany Gold 1995 150,000
UK Gold November 1, 1985 400,000


Chart (1985-1986) Peak
Austrian Singles Chart 1
Brazilian Singles Chart 18
Dutch Singles Chart 1
French SNEP Singles Chart 3
German Singles Chart 1
Irish Singles Chart 2
Italian Singles Chart 1
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
Swedish Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary Tracks 4
U.S. ARC Weekly Top 40 1

Cover versions

Reel Big Fish version

In 1999, Third-wave ska band Reel Big Fish covered "Take on Me" for the film BASEketball. The song was later released on the BASEketball soundtrack and the international version of their album Why Do They Rock So Hard?.

Track listings

CD single

  1. "Take on Me" - 3:02
  2. "Alternative Baby" - 2:56
  3. "Why Do All the Girls Think They're Fat?" - 2:22

Music video

Reel Big Fish released a video clip for "Take On Me" featuring the band playing a game of BASEketball interlaced with clips from the film. It is included on the movie's DVD release.


A1 version


Country Certification Date Sales certified
Norway Gold 2000 5,000
UK Silver September 29, 2000 200,000


Chart (2000) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart 46
Dutch Singles Chart 47
German Singles Chart 61
Irish Singles Chart 12
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
Swedish Singles Chart 9

Other cover versions

Pop-punk band MxPx included this song on their album of covers, On the Cover. UK boyband A1 covered the song in 2000, and it reached #1 on the UK charts. The Argentinian electro-pop band Miranda! used to sing an excerpt of the song in their live shows (it was later included on their 2005 live album, "En Vivo Sin Restricciones"). In 2007, pop trio Jonas Brothers recorded a cover of this song. Influential emo band Cap'n Jazz has also covered this song, which can be found on their compilation Analphabetapolothology. There is also an anonymous cover of this song in Pump it up, versions Premiere and PREX. The song was also covered by German Eurodance act Captain Jack on his first album, "The Mission".


External links

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