Thursday, May 1, 2008

Summer Moved On

For this week's music adventure we are heading back to Norway to explore the sounds of a familiar band that most people believe is a one-hit-wonder. It is truly sad that most people think of A-ha in such a way. While "Take On Me" was a great song, and what the band is known for, it isn't even close to their best song. Most people don't realize that in the 1990s, A-ha set the record for the largest paying audience for a concert and that the band continues to create albums even to the present time. Apparently there was a falling out with American record companies and A-ha has since produced on a German label and tours seemingly everywhere but America. Anyhow, "Summer Moved On" is from their 2000 album "Minor Earth, Major Sky." It is a really good song, but once again, not their best. I am confident that anyone who takes the time to discover their most recent albums will be very impressed both by the quality of the music and the depth of the lyrics--this is certainly not American pop music, thankfully. Jeg elsker dette musikk! Det er meget god! Enjoy.


Jennette said...

Ja, A-Ha et en fantastisk gruppe! It's a shame it is so underrated here in the US. "Analogue" is still one of my favorites, so addicting - it'll convert anyone to Norwegian pop/rock. You should do a posting on some of the solo works of Magne Furuholmen and Morton Harket. Takk for god musikk!

Ana said...

Oh, no no no no you touched a VEEEERY soft spot here :)))
I apologize in advance if this comment turns out to be tooooo long (and i know it will do so), but when it comes to good books or music i can really forget myself and write endless monologues....cant help it when there is good source of inspiration
(I just wondered actually WHEN are A-ha gonna have their turn here).

The first time i was introduced to them was when i was like 8 or 9 years old, with Crying in the rain....I absolutely loved the song, even though im not sure why, but there was something in its sound which captured me...coz at that age, i didnt really have some music taste developed, and frankly, i didnt know English, so there werent many REAL reasons that could attract me to the song, yet, I absolutely loved it...and i remember i always gazed at the TV when i would have come across the video, i found it interesting how this guy was eating popcorn and how they all represented kids from the street, and then when they ran along the railway...
then it was the video for "Take on Me" i had noticed and i was fascinated by it, and how a hand comes out of a comic and this girl
goes inside while no one at the cafe notices....and i was very empathic, especially when the bad guys were after Morten, and i was
always like "run Morten, run!!!!" :)
and each time i watched the video i always thought that maybe this time he wont be able to run away and they'll catch him...I know that i was especially touched by this particular scene when he "opens" the wall and tells the girl to get inside even though she hesitates and doesnt want to leave him, he cares so much for her that he would risk being caught and all, but he must make sure that she is safe....well, to my pleasure it always ended in the 'they lived happily forever after'

later i got "Memorial Beach" and "East of the sun and West of the Moon"...and for some reason "Memorial Beach" was destined to catch dust, coz i mainly played the "East of the sun..." and not entirely but just two or three songs (Crying in the rain, of course...and Early Morning...)
anyway....eventually when i grew more mature regarding music i discovered the real beauty of A-ha, and the depth of their music (plus for some reason i always preferred places and things that revolved around the Scandinavian countries and while most of my friends wanted to visit Spain, England, USA and so forth, i had an enormous desire to head north...still do)

It is sad that many people would recognize A-ha by "Take on Me" or that it is like the only song they can name by them.

as for the "Hunting High and Low" album, apart from "Take on Me" which is a classic, I absolutely love "Hunting High and Low"....the music, the lyrics, the video....I love the power of the violins and contrabasses at 2:37, the sound of seagulls, the eagle representing the "there's no end to the lengths ill go to"...."I'll always be hunting high and low hungry for you, Watch me tearing myself to pieces, Hunting high and low, There's no end to the lengths I'll go to .." there is something really unique about Morten's voice and the way he brings the songs, he really puts the right emotions when he sings them...

"The Sun always shines on TV"... another very favourite of mine. I remember when i was young i found the video awkward and a bit scary coz of all the masks and dolls which were motionless.
And two songs which are quite unknown but which are one of my favourites and which are very worth the listen "Here I stand and face
the Rain" & "I dream myself alive"...."right from the start, i knew this world would break my heart..." thats one of my favourite quotes
In general, Hunting High and Low is an album which i love in its entirety...

East of the Sun, West of the Moon
amazing album...apart from the songs i mentioned above (Crying in the Rain and Early Morning) eventually i discovered 3 breathtaking songs on the album, "Slender Frame", "The Way we Talk", and "East of the sun"...
I think that "Slender Frame's" title is so appropriate coz the song itself sounds so fragile and slender and emotional...'you claim there's none as lonely, lonely as you are'...and i love that part from 2:19 till 2:38

"East of the Sun...."
-I often wish that this is a song I sing and play with someone in a duet...I imagine how I sing Morten's part and play the guitar...I LOVE the intro of the guitar....and I LOVE Morten's voice in this one and how he presents the song...and I absolutely love the
lyrics...and the violins which go in the background while Morten sings...and the way Morten sings the "ooooh" -s, and the guitar riff at 4:06 and forth....'I know the pain, before the wound..'

"The Way We talk"
-such a short song but with sooooo much meaning, and something i love is when a lot of meaning is conveyed in a few words...this one is so simple, but so beautiful ...I love its minimalism

Scoundrel Days
-I love the same-titled opening song, and im overwhelmed with Morten's voice when he sings the parts that begin with "And see as our lives are in the making ..."

"I've been losing you".....ohhhhhh, -a perfect one....the way Morten puts the accent on 'you' in "Ive been losing YOU" everything
goes still at 3:33 for a few seconds and that powerfully comes back...

-this song is so beautiful and so tranquil....

"Manhattan Skyline"
-one of the things i love about this one is how it starts in a slower, calmer mode...and how it changes at 0:54 (the same pattern repeats at 2:50)....and how Morten brings the parts of "oh, but how, how can you say, that i didnt try"...I dont know if there is a small trembling in his voice when he sings that or its something else, but god, im simply hooked to that part of the song...

"Soft Rains of April"
-this one fits quite well as a farewell, closing the album, plus I love the song itself...and those sort of mysterious voices and sounds starting at 1:30...they remind me of a children fairytale and as if the wind is blowing while someone is taking a voyage in a small boat at a rough sea.

Stay on These Roads

"This Alone is love"
-there is some beautiful melancholy in this both the music and the lyrics....'It will make my last breath pass out at dawn It will make my body dissolve out in the blue'.
I love the moment at 3:05....Morten's voice afterwards...the powerful ending.

"The Living Daylights" -uhuuuhh....I love it!! and I LOVE the live version from "How can I sleep with your voice in my head".....ohhhh that one is sooooooooooo gooood....and i love the interaction btw Morten and the audience and how they sing it altogether.

"There is Never a Forever Thing" -mmmmmmm, so touching, so moving, so sad, so beautiful....i love songs with beautiful melancholy
(yes, beautiful melancholy DOES exist :) just close your eyes, turn of the lights and enjoy this one.

"Out of Blue comes green"
-simply beautiful...i love how Morten sings the 'mother/father' words and the pitch of his voice there, but i love his voice in the entire song.

Memorial Beach
this is the one which i really underestimated the first time i got it, and i was oh oh so wrong

"Dark is the night for all"
-beautiful, powerful opening

"Cold as Stone"
-'the mirror sees you, so alone, cold as stone...there's something wrong, you call the doctor on the phone, he's not at home, you leave a message after the tone "im cold as stone"
uhhhhhh, i so much love this song....the lyrics, the music, the
voice.....that instrumental part between 3:10 and 4:22, the "yeaah's" in the background...the guitars that start at 6:58....the ending

"Angel in the Snow"
-this one feels great for getting peace of mind

-I adore this one....and the colour of the voice(s) singing the "I dont know"- parts.

"Memorial Beach"
-again, perfect closure....'we never found a place to hide, some peace of mind..'... makes you simply drift away to another place, deserted, somewhat sad, and warm....

Minor Earth, Major Sky
-Great Album, starting with the same-titled song, which i love and was an inspiration for the name of my blog (there is a whole story behind it actually) but i love using music and songs and quotes when wanting to name something or refer to something.

"Little Black Heart"
-'you say its getting better, you say its alright, but i never felt darkness like i feel it tonight..' a beautiful song.

"Summer Moved on"
-mmmmmmmm, one of the songs which got under my skin the first time i
listened to the album, esp that "Staaaaayyy" thing....and the moment starting from 3:10, until the next "Stay"...this maybe feels as one of the saddest songs for me, mainly coz it gives me the feeling that nothing lasts and that everything comes to an end and it's
inevitable and there is nothing we can do about it and stop it, coz the worlds simply keeps on turning and things can never go back, to change something or to make something go on which was meant to end....feels somewhat dreary.

"The Sun never shone that day"
-'everybody walks away, everybody's led astray'...another one of my 'often put on repeat'

"I wish I cared"
-press the play button and close your eyes.

"You'll never get over me"
-I think this is my ultimately favourite on the entire album....this song is just so amazing, and i dont think i
have been so mislead before by a song title :))...."You will never get over me.....i'll never get under you"...I love ambiguities and play
with words...."whenever our voices speak its never our minds meet" - one of my favourite lines... and i love the female voice which starts appearing at 2:38.

"Mary Ellen makes the moment count"
-One really interesting song, beautiful lyrics, music and again, the unique voice of mr. Harket


-oh god, i so much love this one...I think its coz of the video why i got so hooked on it...the moving among all those fields, mountains, valleys, rivers, so much shows the 'lifelines' and how life moves forward and you always have a path to follow which will lead you somewhere and no matter what, you should never give up your aims and desires and no matter how hard it can get, you should always follow your route coz its a connection to your goals...and you should use your chances coz you may not have a
second one....oh yeah, regarding the video, i like the quote at its beginning, by Olav Rex.

"Forever not yours"
-besides being one of my A-ha favourites, i think that this is my ultimately favourite A-ha video.
reason i love it, is coz Harket has one of its most charismatic appearances there, esp when it starts raining and he gets up from the ground, all wet, and starts smiling....there is some feeling of relief the rain brings, something like washing away the pain, the if everything is gonna be alright in the end....the end is quite awkward. I must say, that the 'ship' always invokes a feeling of uneasiness in me, dont know why...

-somewhat reminds me of Sigur Ros, which means, I love it.

"Did anyone approach you"
-I love this one...and whenever i watch the video i think to myself, "I hope i will get to see them live some day..."

"Turn the lights down"
-to sit back, relax, and enjoy....and perfect for a tango....and the lyrics are so beautiful.


-Celliiiiiceeee, its in the way you hurt me, i know that im alive, you sharpen all my senses...this one is simply addicted to it...the music, the beat, the rhythm, the voice, the lyrics....the "hold me tight" at 2:56 and 3:05...i can listen to it over and over again...very very catchy!!

"Cosy Prisons"
-again a beautiful song...'The sun must never touch your skin, It could expose the dark within.." i love the way music goes faster at 2:18.

-uhhh, i love the intro of this one...i love the vocal moment at 1:40....the way Morten sings the "I wonder...where did she go"

"A Fine Blue Line"
-again, a song with lot of nice moments....tranquil, soothing, relaxing.

"Keeper of the Flame"
-one of my favourites on the album....'incidental incidents, monumental monuments, instrumental instruments,sentimental sentiments...a very tender, very beautiful song.

"Summers of our youth"
-again, a good choice for an ending.

ok, i think its time to bring this to closure...i knew its gonna come out too long, and believe it or not, i tried to make it as short as
possible :-S
probably there is something i missed and that i wanted to say, but i think this was MORE than enough :)
I think this is the longest comment i had ever made actually....sorry, couldnt help it, was inspired....

Mr. Hall said...

Jennette--Takk for den liten brev! Det er trå. A-ha er en fantastisk gruppe!

Ana--Wow, that is an exhaustive and awesome response to a-ha. You may in fact be the one person with whom I am acquainted that knows a-ha better than I do!
I love a-ha. I grew up on the "Hunting High and Low" album. "Take on Me" being the popular song, it was probably what I listened to the most, but I love "Hunting High and Low" and "Living a Boy's Adventure Tale." My favorite song during drives on family vacations was "Blue Sky."
I wasn't familiar with their other albums until I happened upon "East of the Sun, West of the Moon." It was at this point that I truly became a fan of a-ha. The sound was so different from everything else of the time--it just seemed more mature and unique both in lyric and sound. I got a few close friends hooked on "Crying in the Rain" but "Slender Frame" has always been my favorite from this album. ". . . There's several roads to leave by but few come back again. . ." It is such a great song all the way around. The intro to "East of the Sun, West of the Moon" transports me to some distant and lonely arctic landscape and the guitar rhythmically coming in is great. "Half the letter tells half the story. . ." Say, have you ever read the Norwegian folktale by the same title?
You nailed it on your assessment of "The Way We Talk" and I love the cool jazzy sound that it has to it.
Unfortunately, I don't have time to do an exhaustive rendering of each album and song as you have done. What I can say is that with the latter albums (Minor Earth, Major Sky; Lifelines; and Analogue) each one gets better and better. They are one of the few bands that I feel has actually made huge improvements over the course of their career--Each album is fresh (not the same old sound) and the material (lyrics) are wonderful and so much more than the crap that we get with so much pop and rock music these days.
Anyhow, thanks for the comment. Perhaps I will send you an email later when I have more time in order to comment more on the actual albums and songs. :)