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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Out There!: "The Sun Always Shines On TV" by a-ha

Although the Norwegian synth-pop music group, a-ha, had a big 80's hit and a few other singles that made the Top 40 Singles chart, their career never really took off here in America. But in their home country of Norway, they are as big to the Norwegians as Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen are to New Jerseyians. In fact, even though a-ha is the most successful Norwegian artists of all time, they are considered a one-hit wonder in the United States. Of course, everybody who knows 80's music is familiar not only with the song but also the music video for Take On Me. The song was a huge success in America winning numerous MTV music awards, earning Grammy and American Music award nominations, hitting the #1 spot on the charts in 1985, and of course most important being recognized as one of the greatest songs all of time per Mikey Hersh. But their second single was just as good as Take On Me, although it's gone unrecognized by most music fans. That song is The Sun Always Shines On TV.

The Sun Always Shines On TV was the second single released from a-ha's debut album, Hunting High And Low. Overall, the song sold over 4.5 million copies. It's also a-ha's staple song everywhere else in the world other than the United States. It managed to peak at #20 on the U.S. Top 100 Hits chart, but was a smash hit in England and Ireland peaking at #1 as well as their homeland peaking at #2. If you listen closely, the melody sounds eerily close to Howard Shore's theme from Big which released in 1988. I wonder if the songwriters even caught wind of this and settled out of court, because for years I assumed that the song from Big was inspired by this tune. The song begins as your typical 80's synth-ballad, and than explodes into a fireball of sound with chugging guitars and razzling synthesizer sound. It's just a magical song that I don't recall hearing or seeing the video for back in 1985, but became a favorite tune of mine while accumulating music for my collection.

What also is kind of neat is that the video is sort of like a sequel to the epic video for Take On Me. The video also won two MTV video awards for best Cinematography and editing, and did you know a-ha is tied with Peter Gabriel for the most total MTV music awards won at 8, a record that I'm sure will stand the test of time as the music video has become a dying art form. The video for The Sun Always Shine features the two lovers from the Take On Me video (a-ha's lead singer and the cute blonde who liked a little like an older Debbie Gibson) admiring each other in a dark forest when his hand starts reverting to its animated state. Soon his whole body is consumed by the animation. Hunched over, he sees his beloved for the last time as she bites her lip, knowing that the two cannot coexist in the same world. After exchanging painful parting glances, he runs into the distance and a blue explosion swallows him up, sending him back to his comic book world. The girl is left all alone in the forest. Only at this point does the song begin in which the band performs in a church. Unlike Take On Me which was an all-synthesizer track although the video gave the impression that is wasn't by featuring a guitarist and drummer, The Sun Always Shines On TV actually featured guitars and drums performed by the members of a-ha.

It's just an amazing song that I think you will enjoy if you haven't heard it before. Damn VH1 for implying a-ha was just another 80's one-hit wonder! In fact, a-ha is still going strong in Europe. Just not in the U.S. where people's takes on music are forced to change with the times.

Ladies and gentlemen... The Sun Always Shines On TV by a-ha


  1. Hi,
    Just a little correction:
    a-ha's debut album is called 'Hunting High and Low', instead of 'Searching high and low'.
    Sadly enough, although a-ha is indeed still going strong in Europe, they have decided that this year will see the end of a-ha.
    Just one last farewell tour (including NYC and LA in the U.S. by the way) and then it's over.

  2. I make many typos, thanks for the correction. I've never believed in farewell tours, so it remains to be seen if it truly is the end of a-ha. I'm sure if there was a big 80's event in the U.S. or europe and a-ha was asked to be there, it would happen.

    Thanks for the comment and reading.

  3. The Sun Always Shines on TV is way better than Take On Me. And I agree with you, it's a shame they're considered as an One Hit Wonder in the US, otherwise we could've heard a lot more from them.

    Fan from Costa Rica