Written by : Chris Huiyuan Zhang
Despite its hard-to-sing chorus, A-Ha’s Take On Me has remained its popularity as an iconic music video of the 80s till this day. Being way before the arrival of digital age, its music video has featured many qualities of a modern-day music video. Firstly, it has the self-reflexivity of a music video, as one of the predecessors of digital age music videos, it reflexed on the very making of music videos with the combination of both audio-visual footage and animations.
Secondly, it is a music video with narrative that features a mixture of genres. Although, its length is merely around three and a half minutes, it has expressed its main storyline through genres such as sci-fi, romance and even action. Surely it is somewhat corny comparing to the narrative in a modern-day music video, however, it was still made in a very high standard in the year when it was aired on MTV and definitely contributed to its commercial success.
“I have no doubt that the video made the song a hit,” Furuholmen says. “The song has a super catchy riff, but it is a song that you have to hear a few times. And I don’t think it would’ve been given the time of day without the enormous impact of the video.” The legendary clip, directed by Steve Barron, took two months to create due to the backbreaking rotoscoping process, but it was worth the effort: At the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, “Take on Me” took home six trophies and put a-ha on the fast track to fame in the U.S.
Even though it was shot in film, including self-reflexivity and post-modernism has made it not only an iconic song/music video in the 80s but also an audio-visual material that revolutionizes the making of music-videos which many music video creators has followed or attempting to copy its pattern of success in the following years.
“Nobody had ever seen anything like it. We watched many people rip it off, year after year. We once stopped to fill up the car – and the attendant was sitting there drawing animation frames. I said: “What are you doing?” He said: “Oh, we’re copying this guy’s work – you know, the A-HA video?”