Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Take On Me

First released by a-ha (NOR #3 1984).
Hit version by a-ha (US #1/UK #2/AUS #1/IRE #2/GER #1/SWE #1/NOR #1 1985).
Also performed by a-ha (2017).

From the wiki: “‘Take On Me’ was written by the Swedish synth-pop group a-ha (Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket & Pål Waaktaar), and was first recorded as a demo by the group in 1984. The band met with producer Tony Mansfield, an expert in the use of the Fairlight CMI, who mixed their arrangement with electronic instrumentation. The sound was not what a-ha had hoped to achieve, and the album was remixed again. The band then rushed to release ‘Take On Me’ as a single in the United Kingdom but the single flopped. Even so, Warner Brothers’ main office in the United States decided to invest in the band and gave them the opportunity to re-record the song. Alan Tarney, who had previously helmed recording sessions for Cliff Richard and Leo Sayer, produced this new version.

“In the United States, Warner Bros. put a-ha on high priority, and made the move to invest significant money in a revolutionary video for ‘Take On Me’ using the audio version produced by Tarney. The re-recorded and remixed single was released in the United States a month after the music video, and immediately appeared in the Billboard Hot 100.

“In mid-June 2017, a-ha recorded an MTV Unplugged special on the remote Norwegian island of Giske under close secrecy, with no phones or other recording equipment being allowed into the studio.

“The band were listed in the Guinness World Records book, beginning in 1991 until 2017, for having the largest paying audience; they drew an audience of 198,000 at Rio’s Maracanã Stadium. Another record for the band is for singer Morten Harket, who was (and is still) listed in the Guinness World Records book in 2001 for the longest live note held; he held a note in ‘Summer Moved On’ for 22 seconds.”

a-ha, “Take On Me” (1985):

a-ha, “Take On Me” live performance MTV Unplugged (2017):

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