"Take On Me" by A-ha, has been enjoying a bit of a resurgence lately. In 2012 it became a battle cry for the Washington Nationals baseball team, in 2013 it was sampled by Pitbull and Christina Aguilera for "Feel This Moment" (featured prominently in The Lego Movie trailer), and it was also featured in a Volkswagen commercial that also mimicked the video.
That has led to more various articles talking to the former band members. One with singer Morten Harket made me think, when he said what the video did was allow people to pay attention to the song. It was a good song, but people didn't latch on to it on one listen.
I thought of it differently then. I knew the song had been released twice previously without gaining any traction, and that it was the release with the classic video that made the difference, but I hadn't really thought about why.
I am much more aware now that some songs require multiple listenings before you appreciate them, but I would not have expected "Take On Me" to be one. That one segment should work as a pop hook. Maybe timing was an issue too, but the video worked.
For me, I know it was not just the video, based on the number of times we went through Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days. (After that they did not focus on the US as much, and I did still get some of their later albums, but it was different.) That being said, the video had a huge effect on me.
I could not even tell you if the local radio stations were playing A-ha before. My first glimpse of them was the video, but it was just a clip in a commercial. I wanted to see it so badly, just based on that glimpse, but it never came on when I needed it. Suddenly I caught it one night while babysitting, and the parents came home before it ended. So yes, I totally appreciate how the internet allows me to call up things instantly now.
I do think the rotoscoping aspect was something that drew attention. The live photography was attractive, as was the band, and simple storyline worked. The drama followed the music nicely. You can try and analyze all these points, and you do learn things by doing it, but also sometimes there is just magic. It captured a moment, and it worked for the band.
The music landscape is different now, and things don't always work the same way, from what is necessary to reach your audience to what budget you will have to do it, so we'll spend some time on that over the next week or so. For now, it's good enough just to appreciate a classic video from a magical time: