Take On Me – a-ha | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1); 1985

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

The very first song singer Morten Harket heard guitarist Pål Waaktarr and keyboardist Magne “Mags” Furuholmen play together was a tune that would become their biggest hit together.

Pål and Mags were in Bridges when they heard Morten of Soldier Blue, and asked him to join them. He did, on his 23rd birthday in September of 1982, and a-ha – named after a Pål song title – was born.

The three moved to London in early 1983; shopping a demo tape that included One Lesson. After months of knocking on doors with no success, a studio manager set up a showcase for the band. Without work permits the trio hadn’t played live in the UK before that night.

They got a deal anyway. a-ha’s first album included a revamped One Lesson; now called Take On Me. The single sank without a trace so it was back to the studio for a third take on it.

This time a striking video caught the video wave; sweeping Take Me On to #1 in America and #2 in Britain. (Trivia: look for the a-ha poster on the Seinfeld “Pez Dispenser” episode).

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • John Ratcliff
  • Alan Tarney

Lyrics Written by:

  • Magne Furuholmen
  • Morten Harket
  • Pål Waaktaar


  • MTV Video Music Awards (1986): Won Best Concept Video, Best Direction, Best Special Effects, Best Art Direction, Viewer’s Choice, Breakthrough Video
  • MTV Video Music Awards (1986): Nominated Best New Artist in a Video, Video of the Year
  • Grammy Awards Nominated for Best Music Video, Short Form