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1985 – Take On Me

February 22nd, 2019 · Posted by Skuds in Life/Music · No Comments · Life, Music

A big year for me, it was when I got married. OK so that didn’t work out brilliantly in the long term but at the time it was all looking good.

The wedding also led, indirectly, to my first experience of music TV. At the time I did not have cable or satellite television and that was the only way to get this new-fangled thing called MTV. For our honeymoon we went to Amsterdam and the hotel (a splendid old building near the Muntplein on Nieuw Doelenstraat, which was where Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Night Watch was first hung, and possibly where it was set) had cable TV. In those days the choice of channels on hotel TVs was quite limited but two things were virtually guaranteed: CNN and MTV (or VH1?). So we ended up with MTV on a lot as background noise. This was also the time when music videos were really taking off, and getting some big budgets. Elton John and Madonna took full advantage of this but the gold standard was surely set by A-Ha with the video for Take On Me. it had a story, it had brilliant animation and merging of live action and animation, it had Morten Harket’s amazing cheekbones, and it had a happy ending. It helped that it was also a brilliantly catchy song and, as it turns out, a very enduring one. I know that the video was so popular it seemed to pop up at peast once per hour on MTV. You could not get away from it, even if you wanted to.

We all know the song. It is one that you can’t help trying to join in with, and then as the chorus approaches you realise that you are never going to reach those high notes. When this gets picked on a karaoke night it must attract a mass intake of breathe and industrial amounts of anticipation.

I feel happy any time I hear this song. I don’t think that is just because it takes me back to a time and place when I was very happy and looked set to continue that way. I think it is just a perfect pop song that I would like anyway. For all those reasons I cannot think of a better song to represent 1985 for me.

Of course there were other things going on. There was Live Aid for a start. That was a big deal, even for those of us watching it on a 14″ black and white TV in our flat above a chip shop in Lewisham.

It was another year dominated by polished,  over-produced, and inoffensive music by Phil Collins, Eurythmics, Dire Straits, Simply Red, Tina Turner and the like. And of course there were a lot of charity records and Now-type compilations. There was a lot of stuff that was pleasant enough but not very exciting, and nothing to compete with A-Ha. Some of the few things that rang my bell in 1985 were I Wonder If I take You Home by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Big Audio Dynamite with E=MC2, Paul Hardcastle’s 19 and not a lot else, but then I did have a lot going on in life, with a new wife and a career just taking off.

 

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