A-ha’s classic 1985 music video for “Take On Me” has passed the one billion views threshold on YouTube, earning the Norwegian electro-pop trio a special place in the history books.
It’s one of the few pre-‘90s music videos to join the billion-views club alongside Guns N’ Roses‘ “November Rain” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. A-ha become the first continental European act to accomplish this feat, and the first pop outfit. Also, “Take On Me” stands alone as the only video from its era to use the “rotoscoping” illustration technique.
“Take On Me” was originally released in 1984, but failed to make a lasting impression. The following year it was relaunched with its groundbreaking, Steve Barron-directed music video, which blends pencil-sketch animation and live action.
The clip was a huge hit with the MTV generation and it launched A-ha into the big league. The single went to No. 1 in 36 territories, and images of its band members Morten Harket, Paul Waaktaar and Magne Furuholmen were immediately plastered on bedroom walls and the front pages of music titles around the globe.
Their debut album Hunting High And Low went to No. 2 in the U.K. and No. 15 in the U.S. and also yielded the top-20 hit “The Sun Always Shines on TV.” Career album sales are north of 55 million.
When Harket sang “I’ll be gone in a day or two,” he got that wrong.
Speaking to Billboard late last year, Furuholmen paid tribute to the clip’s longevity. “Obviously the video is unique and it has some features that stand up and stand the test of time. It’s hand drawn which makes it what it is,” the keyboardist noted.
“The song also seems to resonate with people across time. It’s just very fortunate to have such a big song in our catalogue. We probably spent a few years talking it down, trying to get people to focus on new stuff we’re doing. At this point, certainly speaking for myself, I’m just surprised and proud that the song has done so well and still finds an audience.”
To celebrate, Rhino Records has launched a range of special collectables, including a VHS tape of the clip, an exclusive print signed by all three bandmates, and a three-print collection sketched by the video’s original animators Michael Patterson and Candace Reckinger, who painstakingly created 10,000-plus drawings for the animated parts.
“Take On Me” officially reached one billion views on YouTube on Feb. 17 at 8.20pm GMT, and was recently restored and upgraded to 4K resolution.
A-ha kick off a rare tour of Australia today (Feb. 19) with a sold-out open-air show at Kings Park & Botanic Garden. Watch the video below.