Pal Waaktaar and Magne Furuholmen, formerly of Bridges, formed Norwegian synth pop group A-ha in the early ’80s. Nimble vocalist Morten Harket joined the duo, and they left for the now “legendary London flat” to make it. By late 1983 they had achieved part of that goal by signing to WEA.
Their debut single, “Take On Me,” went through three versions before becoming a hit in the U.K., eventually reaching number two in November 1985. It went one better in the U.S., mainly due to the wide exposure of its stunning video on MTV, which fused animation with real-life action. They returned to the charts with “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.” which became a U.K. number one in early 1986, helping take the album Hunting High and Low to the Top Ten. The song hit the Top 20 in the U.S., where the album reached number 15.
With A-ha’s debut album mainly consisting of romantic synth pop, the press were quick to dismiss them as a teeny bop sensation; however, there was more than met the ear at first impression in Waaktaar’s writing, and a more mature effort, Scoundrel Days, was released in October 1986. More focused, it had a stronger band feel thanks to its live drumming evident on “The Swing of Things” and lead single “I’ve Been Losing You,” which surprised critics at the time. Further striking imagery accompanied “Cry Wolf.” The album landed in the Top 30 in Norway and cracked the top half of the Billboard 200 in the U.S. After a world tour, a-ha provided the theme to the James Bond flick The Living Daylights. A remix appeared on their third album, Stay on These Roads, in 1988.