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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Hunting High And Low

a-ha

1985

Buy At Rough Trade
Hunting High And Low
Album Summary

Hunting High and Low is the debut studio album by Norwegian new wave band A-ha, released on 1 June 1985 in the United States of America and 28 October 1985 in the United Kingdom by Warner Bros. Records. The album was a huge commercial success, reaching high positions on charts worldwide and peaking at number 15 on the US Billboard 200. The album was recorded at Eel Pie Studios in Twickenham, London, and produced by Tony Mansfield, John Ratcliff and Alan Tarney. In all, five singles from the album were released, though not all were released internationally: "Take On Me", "Love Is Reason", "The Sun Always Shines on T.V.", "Train of Thought" and "Hunting High and Low". The group was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards in 1986, making A-ha the first Norwegian band to be nominated for a Grammy. As part of a re-release of their first two albums, Hunting High and Low was expanded and remastered in 2010.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.11

Votes

11562

Genres

  • New Wave
  • Pop

Reviews

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Tue Aug 24 2021
4

“Hunting High and Low” by a-ha (1985) After scanning the lyrics and listening to the first two disco/techno/pop tracks, I was prepared to skewer this album. But I have to confess that my appreciation increased as I listened—so much so that I had to erase my initial impressions and start over. Now I have a nice addition to my road trip playlist. Lyrics, melodies and chord structures are mostly supplied by songwriter and guitarist Pål Waaktaar. He shows ample creativity in tonal structures and melodies, yielding more than a few pleasantly head-scratching moments. (Yes, head scratching should be pleasant for a serious listener!) Disappointment over the lyrics can be set aside, since poetry and song in the English language is not to be expected of a Norwegian band. However, it should be said that lyrical non sequiturs are illogical in any language. I would like to hear this re-done in Norwegian. Guitar is not much on display on this album, which is baffling, given guitarist Waaktaar’s centrality in the creative process. Mood-appropriate vocal harmonies are compositional highlights. And there’s the nice oboe solo work by Claire Jarvis on the very cool “Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale”. Snappy programmed ‘drumming’ with EQ pleasantly cranked up on the treble end, but it lacks dynamic variation (and thus passion) in the emotional peaks. Where’s Phil Collins when you need him? Programmed bass likewise lacks life, but there’s plenty of danceable rhythm here, if you can keep up. Cascading, shimmering electronic backgrounds and counter melodies add needed color. It’s all well recorded and mixed, although I’m listening to a 2015 remaster of a 30 year old original, so there might be some cheating going on. Vocals by Morten Harket are remarkable. His more than adequate range has a curious timbre at the lower end of his range, making his tenor voice sound deceptively baritone, to nice effect. At the same time, he is quite weak (and flat) on the higher end of his natural range, but he has a strong, almost piercing falsetto. The chorus of the opening track “Take on Me” demonstrates all this. Fascinating. The title track “Hunting High and Low” has a nice jazz chord progression (seasoned with major seventh chords), and an entrancing melody, but it tends to wander aimlessly. The beautiful acoustic intro reveals Waaktaar’s guitar-based compositional approach, but after the intro, it almost drops out entirely (at least in the mix). It’s arrestingly odd. My favorite tracks (3, 5, 7, 10) are the ones that are definitely not ‘dance tunes’, nicely distributed to provide animation to the record’s construction. The closing track “Here I Stand and Face the Rain” is potentially powerful, but the first four lines of the second verse need to be replaced. My assessment went from “1” to “4” in 45 minutes. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. I hope this album is within your budget. 4/5

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Mon Feb 15 2021
5

Like then she comes back and like gets the drawing out the bin but he might be alive and everyone is looking and like she runs away and he comes back and ...it don’t make much sense now I think about it.

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Wed Feb 09 2022
3

Was always going downhill after Take On Me. Insert some sort of metaphor about Michael Owen's football career and/or Alan Partridge.

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Tue Feb 09 2021
3

The difference between the hits and the chaff of this album is huge. There are a few real five star songs on here such as Take On Me and The Sun Always Shines On TV. On the other hand, the rest of the songs are just really boring to the tune of two stars. I'd really like to give this four stars because those two good songs are so good. But they really are the only ones.

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Mon Jul 26 2021
2

Probably better off in 1001 Singles You Must Hear Before You Die. Hunting High and Low sounds pretty much exactly like the made-for-radio synth pop I expected it to be, with some tracks (And You Tell Me especially) coming off as borderline parody. It's all fine and listenable—aforementioned track notwithstanding—but feels hollow for the most part. There's glimpses where it seems like the band may be aware of that, but I doubt they were thinking about more than the charts. Key Tracks: Take On Me, The Blue Sky, The Sun Always Shines On T.V.

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Wed Jul 20 2022
4

This starts with Take On Me? Wow that's a high mark to keep up. Hunting High and Low is deceptively complex. Every time I seem to wane interest in the sound, there is a new thing thrown in.

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Wed Feb 02 2022
3

Don't start your album with the best song

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Mon Feb 21 2022
5

If anyone asks what the 80s sound like, I'd give them this album. Have had a lot of albums from the 80s and everytime I just expected it to be as good as this one, but they never really make it. And it always makes me think of my mom :)) 5

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Wed Aug 17 2022
4

Take On Me reached meme status. Such a good song but hard to listen to with an objective ear anymore because I'm just tired of it. I'm not a fan of the electric keyboard or drum sounds so I was prepared not to like this album or at least not love it but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. Title track is really good. Great vocal range and voice. Songwriting is dramatic, creative with instrumentation, orchestral at times with strings, brass, and even woodwinds on Living a boys adventure tale. Not a fan of the static drum machine although the programming is good, this album could benefit from a real drummer at least on some tracks or in addition to the drum machine. Songwriting is very good here, they obviously know what they are doing with lots of non-diatonic chords. Definitely made me double take a like at the vocal transition to the chorus in living a boys adventure tale. The vocal octave jump in this song in the last chorus is fantastic. Really fun intro on the sun always shines on t.v. which starts dreamy with pads and sustained vocals, then becomes dissonant with a borrowed chord and then drops into a guitar and synth-bass driven groove. The chorus is in a major key but falls right back into that minor groove in such a natural way. Aha knows how to let a phrase breathe - I noticed this in I dream myself alive with the massive layered harmonies in the hook that is a call/response with the instrumentals. The hooks are simple and I think that's one reason they are so memorable on this album. Even the hook in Take On Me which spans 2.5 octaves is just ascending notes, 3 at a time. Very strange key changes in here I stand and face the rain that reminds me of we are the robots by kraftwerk. Overall, well crafted songs but is hampered by thin digital synths and midi drums. Some songs are fairly forgettable which is not good on a short album. Mixed bag but the highs here well make up for the lows.

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Mon Jun 27 2022
5

I was expecting the old known hit into mediocre deep cuts pattern, and was shocked to find a perfect pop album. It reminds me of Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion if I were to compare it to a record with which I'm much more familiar. The accessibility is the only soundscape similarity, though: There are a couple more cuts in Take On Me's style, a taste of what would become outrun, and some slower numbers. It all may age poorly on a revisit, but for now I'm too busy grinning, riding the high of the last hour.

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Tue Aug 30 2022
4

It's a shame Morten Harket didn't utilize the wide range of his voice more often because it too often sounds like any other eighties synth-pop ensemble's singer. But the band's dramatic debut album makes for very melodic and intriguing music.

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Tue Sep 27 2022
4

This is a cool album from what I would describe as the "mature" period of new wave/synth pop that followed the earlier work of bands like Gary Neuman and Human League. This is a great example of that style, and the lead singer of the band has an incredible voice that fits in great with the synthesizer sound. A really strong debut album, and it's incredible that this band had never played a concert before Take On Me reached #1 in the US 4/5

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Tue Jan 09 2024
4

I can see the music video in my mind

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Wed Aug 25 2021
3

[Michael Bluth looking into bag marked ‘The a-ha album with take on me on it’ “I don’t know what I expected”

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Thu Aug 26 2021
3

I was in high school when this album came out and so heavily into hard rock and heavy metal that the idea of a fully synth-laden pop band was anathema to me at the time :) Having said that, this lead single (and as it turns out the only song I can even remember from the band) was not dismissed by me... because of *the video* - which everyone knows. And the reason that it was/is important is that the video was so damn compelling at the time that it got me to look past my stubborn narrow-minded music tastes at the time and just enjoy it for what it was and is - a truly great pop song - that's not a light statement: "Take On Me" is so perfectly constructed as to stay interesting and high-paced throughout its perfectly short-enough length. ...oh wait, there's more to this album? Unsurprisingly the album is very very 80s - the pulsing 16th note synth bass, layered keyboards, rigid electronic percussion, heavy reverbs. So yeah - it's dated. But it sounds good - it may not be my favourite genre but it's a highly melodic throwback with decent songs that is a fun 37 minute retro-ride. 7/10 3 stars.

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Tue Aug 31 2021
3

I expected this to just be take on me, plus filler. It had other bangers. It also had a lot of filler

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Thu Sep 02 2021
3

This is good. I love that you could play 5 seconds from anywhere in the album and immediately know it's mid 80s. Good fun and more to it than I expected.

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Mon Oct 11 2021
3

It has its decent moments and overall is a well produced album, but doesn’t seem to know quite what it wants to be. I enjoy the more new wave moments, but some of the drum machines and synth date the album and take away from the wonderful vocal and bass performances. Having said that, I’m glad to have been exposed to a-ha beyond ‘Take on Me’

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Mon Oct 18 2021
3

About how I expected it to be, some catchy parts but largely cheesy and overwrought 6/10

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Wed Jan 19 2022
3

There’s literally one reason that this album is on this list and it’s a worthy reason. The rest of it wasn’t terrible though. We all know which song is the favorite

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Wed Jan 26 2022
3

'Take on Me' starts the album off super strong, from the first notes that make you want to bop your head. 'Hunting High and Low' is another really great piece from the album. It seems like the album suffers from the plague of all albums that have a really standout song, and it's that the other songs don't live up to the expectations set by the stellar song. All in all, the album is enjoyable, but the experience doesn't feel like it's complete enough to fully stand out.

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Wed Feb 09 2022
3

Polly put the kettle on. Polly put the kettle on. Polly put the kettle on, we'll all take E. Fuck me what a tea party that was. I was off my barnet. I ended up shagging Keira Knightley round the back of a broken ferris wheel. Her skinny elbows kept prodding me right in my sweet spot. Complete filth that lass. You wouldn't know it from her prim and proper characters on screen, but get her within a whiff of an abandoned fairground and she's as rough as arseholes.

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Sun Mar 13 2022
3

A-ha have always been much more than a one hit wonder. Take On Me ranks as one of the best pop songs and certainly the most memorable film clip of all time and for that, a-ha deserve their place on this list. Hunting High and Low is a fantastic pop album. Very mucb of its time but also innovative in terms or its synth arrangements, I would hazard a guess that they were a tiny bit influenced by Sparks (but who wasn't in some way or another). Listening to the album again after so long, I am surprised Love Is The Reason and The Sun Always Shines on TV didn't chart better at the time. Some of the songs sound dated or are obvious filler which is the main downside of the album.

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Wed Mar 16 2022
3

A decent album. Not great, not egregious, just the exact, forensic point of okayness. I have never warmed to Take on Me. Overwhelmingly overplayed and slightly gimmicky, I always preferred The Sun Always Shines on TV (and honestly, I've never bothered paying attention to a-ha before). However, as the opener, I will acknowledge more of a charm than I have previously recognised, but not enough to persuade me to like it fully. The other singles are better, often quite melancholy, and one has to relish Morten Harket's lyrical idiosyncrasies (who doesn't marvel at "Please don't ask me to defend/ The shameful lowlands/ Of the way I'm drifting/ Gloomily through time"?). But, and this is with all the goodwill in the world musterable for this album, I can't really call it an essential listen. There's fair filler and, although it's enjoyable to spend an hour with these fetching Norwegians, I'm not going to build a shrine to them.

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Thu Jun 09 2022
3

Hunting High & Low is very much a mid-80s album. Accessible synth-pop made at a time when it was a commercially safe choice. Nevertheless this album has two things that set it a little apart: Firstly, the beautifully emotional voice of Harket and secondly, the melancholic tone of many of the songs. It ensures that this album goes just a little deeper than many of its contemporaries. And even though there is really nothing wrong with the songwriting, it really does have the 80's issues of filler sounds, the need to fill up silences with an extra synth-trumpet, drumcomputer-loop and background violin. Especially clear in the song Hunting High And Low. Solid Debut for this Norwegian Band and I'm glad to have learned about songs like The Blue Sky and Here I Stand And Face The Rain

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Wed Jul 13 2022
3

Take on Me followed by nine other tracks. Rating: 3/5 Playlist track: Take on Me Date listened: 12/07/22

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Sun May 23 2021
2

The album sounds like the songs are well written and would be something I’d like. However, it has the type of 80s style production that, to me, make everything flat and dull.

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Tue Feb 07 2023
2

Iconic, if only for the hit opener which cemented synthpop as a relic of the 80's. Yeah, the rest of the album hits a consistent quality benchmark, but truth be told nothing will compare to the plucky melody line of Take On Me.

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Tue Aug 09 2022
1

Unspectacular 80s pop. And take on me

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Wed Apr 12 2023
1

Oh-no First Song - 4/5 Everything Else - 0.1/5 How did this album even make the list? Is it because it is a representative example of 80’s synth-pop?

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Thu Apr 20 2023
1

I really don’t like how this list keeps including albums that were obviously only included for one breakout single. And the single for this particular album isn’t even good. It’s crappy overproduced 80s synth shite. Quite infuriating to listen to.

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Wed Jul 14 2021
5

Ok, it's not my style, and it feels weird to rank it together with yesterday's Motorhead, but I gotta give it a 5

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Wed Jun 02 2021
5

An 80's hit maker. The opening track is iconic. This is the PEAK of synthpop goodness. It's bouncy, layered, fun, anthemic, and funky. All round awesome album.

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Sun Jul 18 2021
5

Obviously I loved this album.

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Fri Sep 24 2021
5

Потрясающий голос, классные аранжировки. Буду ли я это переслушивать? УЖЕ ПЕРЕСЛУШИВАЮ

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Fri May 20 2022
5

Listened Before? N How is it possible that I have never listened to this whole album before now? I have no clue. Take on Me is one of my all time favorite songs, but I never went beyond that. This is a synth-pop classic! Most songs are good or great, and there are a few real gems! Added to Library? Y Songs Added to Playlist - Take on Me, The Sun Always Shines on T.V.

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Sun Jun 12 2022
5

Stórfengleg debut plata þessarra norðmanna sem eru mér mjög kærir. Fullt hús stiga.

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Wed Jun 15 2022
5

super enjoyable experience I listened to the 30th anniversary super deluxe edition and had a lot of fun hearing all the different takes and demos hell, I think I liked some of those demos more than the original songs as well as the bonus tracks like Stop! And Make Your Mind Up just had such a fun, fresh sound honestly a lot of these songs I thought had the same quality and charm as Take on Me and I'm surprised that so many of these songs are so overwhelming buried by the song that made them a one-hit-wonder overall, 10/10, super enjoyable, check out the 30th anniversary edition, just a great album

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Tue Aug 02 2022
5

I had this CD when I was a kid and it was great then. Still great.

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Mon Dec 12 2022
5

Geweldige 80s synth-pop! Dit album bevat alleen maar toppers!! *****

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Sat Dec 17 2022
5

Great listen! So many great moments, some energetic, some poignant and beautiful.

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Mon Feb 13 2023
5

liking IT very much, living a boys adventure tale for reallll

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Wed Feb 22 2023
5

[Alan Partridge Voice] A-HAAAAA! Take On Me is one of the greatest songs ever written. Fight me. I didn't know Take On Me was the opener for this album...strong start. What a great snare sound...never really paid attention to the snare like that. Following such a strong opener is always difficult, Train Of Thought does okay. Reminds me a bit of a Bowie type of song. Title track is excellent. I love the more understated sound of this one. The switches from major to minor in interesting places was very refreshing. It's suddenly become massive. BIG DRUMS! Love the orchestration too. The Blue Sky was nice, left a bit to be desired though towards the end. Just kinda fizzled out. The Sun Always Shines On TV...I feel like I've heard this before? A-Ha are at their best when they go for more minor chord progressions imo. That's where they hit my interest points the most. Notable Songs - Take On Me Hunting High And Low I Dream Myself Alive 9/10

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Sun Feb 26 2023
5

Track 1 is a perfect pop song. The rest of the album has tracks that have questionable beginnings but by the end you’re nodding along and getting it. Well done.

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Mon Mar 20 2023
5

Super pleasantly surprised, this is great 80s pop. I'd never heard The Sun Always Shines on TV before, what a banger!

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Thu Apr 06 2023
5

My older sister was obsessed with Morten and by association I also loved and played this album a lot in 1985/86. The perfect package of cool, handsome guys that girls fancied and boys wanted to be, coupled with cool synth pop that you can dance to or do your homework to. The epitome of cool. And I just discovered that Take On Me gas the perfect beat and drum pattern for my morning running! It’s been over 35 years since I last listened to the full album and I can’t fathom why. This is utterly brilliant synth pop easily as accomplished as Lexicon Of Love, Dare, Low Life, New Gold Dream, Sweet Dreams, Music For The Masses, The Innocents… you get the theme. Five stars without doubt.

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Mon May 08 2023
5

Mycket bra platta. Take on me kanske är sämsta låten.

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Thu Jun 08 2023
5

Fun! Interesting to listen to the whole album. I was kinda surprised by just how synth pop -y it was. I like the music throughout though! While nothing really stood out, some of the titles or concepts were cool. - Living a Boy's Adventure Tale - Hunting High and Low - The Blue Sky - Love is Reason This is even better on a relisten.

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Thu Nov 23 2023
5

Always knew i'd love it, but never had time to hear this gem front-to-back. It's definitely brilliant

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Mon Jan 29 2024
5

This album is the 80's in essence. A lovely classic.

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Wed Jan 31 2024
5

Might be my favorite yet..5/5 don’t let the opening track we know sway you.

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Thu Feb 22 2024
5

Classic example of British synth-pop. Dynamic and never samey. Not just a one hit wonder album

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Wed Feb 28 2024
5

Just good clean 80s fun. When you think of what 80s music sounds like, this is the sound i think of. TAKE. ON. ME.

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Wed Feb 28 2024
5

The song “The Sun Always Shines on TV” makes me feel things

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Thu Mar 21 2024
5

There’s something about the slightly stilted Norwegian accents and silky synths that make this album magic.

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Mon Apr 01 2024
5

I've always loved A-Ha, brilliant song craft and production which continued for decades. This album is easy to overlook and underestimate.

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Mon May 27 2024
5

An all-time favorite and classic from my high school days. Awesome!

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Thu Jan 21 2021
4

Dad loves this album lol. This is super synthy and sounds pretty modern compared to stuff like DARE or Pet Shop Boys. I definitely see a ton of parallels with this and some stuff that’s come out in the last decade. The vocals are interesting. Some Chris Isaac-y vocals here and there, some really nice harmonies on a couple tunes

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Sun May 02 2021
4

Good 80s pop with a mystery sound

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Thu Feb 18 2021
4

Really fun listening to other songs by aha other than take on me. They are really good and im surprised i've never heard the other songs on this album

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Thu Feb 11 2021
4

Lekker eighties album met vrolijke vibe. En natuurlijk de klassieker take on me

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Mon Feb 15 2021
4

i'm pretty forgiving when it comes to ham and cheese. tho i also believe it's a legit good album.

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Fri Feb 12 2021
4

Take on Me. Aww ye. Everything else is the kinda weird but kinda cool 80’s vibe

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Fri Jan 22 2021
4

I liked this one quite a bit, especially the opening track, "Take on Me". Very 80s.

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Sun May 02 2021
4

Good 80s album, but on their own, only the title track stands out from the rest of the songs

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Mon May 10 2021
4

Take on Me is the GOAT of the album, and for it being a "pop" album it doesn't stick to a general formula, props on that

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Fri Apr 30 2021
4

A childhood landmark. The Sun Always Shines on TV is grossly under appreciated.

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Mon Feb 15 2021
4

80s. A-ha. What's not to like.

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Thu Mar 11 2021
4

Take On Me is a tune 😂 classic. Reminds me of playing GTA Vice City on PS2 when I was like 14. STYG covered this too. You'd have to be pretty cold hearted to not like this kinda 80's music, it's upbeat and feelgood. Defo a 4.

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Sat Apr 10 2021
4

pretty good. ofc take on me is good. but the sun always shines on tv was amazing and added to playlist v

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Sun Jun 20 2021
4

Take on me is so good! And some of the others are great 80s pop hits too

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Sun Jun 20 2021
4

Great 80s hits, especially take on me.

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Mon May 10 2021
4

Catchy, melancholy synth-pop tragedy

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Wed Jul 07 2021
4

Some great songs, brings back memories.

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Sun Jul 11 2021
4

4.5 Nunca había escuchado el álbum, pero Take on Me es una de mis mejores canciones de todos los tiempos. Después de escuchar el disco entendí por qué vendió tantas copias a nivel mundial, aún así hubo un par de canciones que no me atraparon del todo. Además, Take on Me le da puntos extras y es injusto comparar su nivel con el resto de las canciones

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Thu Jul 29 2021
4

Energetic ProtoDream Pop, honestly Take On Me is overrated compared to the rest of the album.

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Fri Jul 30 2021
4

Solid Album very groovy and catchy I can see why it sold so much lolz

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