Morten Harket: Still Falsetto-riffic!

No disrespect to R.E.M., but there may be no band break-up that got me in the gut harder than a-ha’s. We all remember a-ha, of course, for “Take On Me.” But it surprises a lot of people to find that the band, long celebrated as one of the 80s greatest one hit wonders was actually a two-hit wonder here in the U.S. (you mean, you don’t remember “The Sun Always Shines on TV”, a Top 20 hit in 1986?), and that they continued touring and recording for most of the next 25 years, racking up hits in Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia with singles every bit as glorious as their “one hit” – songs like “Forever Not Yours” (which boasted a great Noah’s Ark-inspired story video), the orchestral confessional “Shadowside”, and the driving, gothic “Celice” – not to mention “Summer Moved On”, a later-career falsetto-and-Spanish-guitar masterpiece, or their moving farewell single “Butterfly, Butterfly (The Last Hurrah)”.

a-ha “Forever Not Yours” (2002)

A-ha – Forever Not Yours (Clip) by Meubal

They might not have gotten any play here, but each of the four studio albums a-ha released since 2000 is worth the import price you have to pay to obtain them, so, yes, it was incredibly sad for me to see this band call it a career at the end of 2010. I’ll take some solace that all three of these guys had already established interesting solo careers prior to the band’s break-up, and that the band’s dissolution is giving them time to give those endeavors more energy.

Lead singer Morten Harket is first out of the gate with a new solo album. Out of My Hands is the fifth solo record by Harket, and his third English-language release (following 2009’s Letters from Egypt and 1995’s Wild Seed). He’s previewing the album with a pair of singles. In February, there was the lovely, driving “Lightning” which you can listen to below. And then, last week marked the premiere of the video for the second, a song called “Scared of Heights” that finds Morten indulging his falsetto maybe just a tad too much. The song’s fruity melody and even fruitier video (which features a lot of slow motion hair-ography – thank you for that, Glee – while Harket preens at the roof’s edge of a green-screen skyscraper) are an embarrassing reminder of some of a-ha’s not-so-great moments. Morten’s voice just works better on sadder sounding songs.

Morten Harket “Lightning” (2012)