Friday Farewell Song: a-ha

Coinciding with the 23 year anniversary of their sweeping synth pop masterwork, “Scoundrel Days” and this year’s global hit “Foot Of The Mountain,” my favorite band has called it quits after a 30 year career. Contrary to the “one-hit wonder” school of American ignorance, a-ha reigned supreme around the world (36 million albums sold and a Guinness World Record for audience attendance) and already had the respect of the foreign music critics (Q Magazine often included their albums among the best of the year), who tend to have better taste than our “three chord and the truth” Chuck Klostermans. And of course they did a James Bond theme song.

So while all the celebrated critic’s 80’s darlings like the pedantic New Order and the limited Scritti Politti faded long ago, a-ha kept making discs and survived “Take On Me,” still the greatest music video and the best pop keyboard melody since “Light My Fire.” As I’ve pointed out before, Morten Harkett’s soaring voice over Mags and Paul Waaktar-Savoy’s unique, Nordic melodies and ambitious soundscapes captured something melancholy yet expansive to this suburban youth living a boy’s adventure tale. But I survived the brickbats of my confused friends and still have their nine discs and the continued work of Waaktar-Savoy, whose outside band, Savoy, are making beautiful music. He’ll be acknowledged as one of the finest tunesmiths we’ve ever had.

As there’s no acrimony, the band will play live long into next year with the “Ending On A High Note” tour, including their first stop here since 1985. And to wave goodbye to the Norwegian Kings Of Pop, here’s one of my favorites, “The Blood That Moves The Body” from their 1988 third disc, “Stay On These Roads.” This haunting epic is more typical of their darker, progressive songs with some lovely strings and one of their best minor chord melodies. Thus, an era ends.


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