Most people know a-ha from their toe-tapping pop tune Take On Me, but over the course of forty years the Norwegian trio have retained much of their fame and adulation.
However, as this anniversary film proves, that same affection isn’t reserved for each other. Filmed over four years, Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket, and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy discuss their humble beginnings in their native country, struggling as artists living in the UK, and the unlikely success that propelled them to legendary status.
Interestingly, this success hasn’t always been that satisfying: chiselled singer Harket seems to bristle against the teen idol fame he achieved, wishing to be taken seriously as an artist; keyboardist Furuholmen carries grudges his credit within the group; while lead guitar Waaktaar-Savoy is too focused on perfection to enjoy the success.
Like 2004’s Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, which showed the metal gods having group therapy, this sombre portrayal of a-ha is at odds with the jumpy beats and cartoon videos of their heyday. They are a band who feel more like workmates than friends.
The audience is led through their history, narrated by the band with the odd visual flourish. The argument that emerges is that they aren’t as respected as artists as they should be. As the hits and concert footage roll on, there’s a sense that they may be right.
It may have been better put across in a shorter runtime (nearly two hours will be testing for non-fans), but it’s an illuminating look at pop royalty that will leave you better informed and humming that famous opening riff.