Not many songs have acquired the continued cultural prestige and popularity that “Take on Me” has. The a-ha song became a hit when it was re-recorded and released with a unique music video in 1985. The video included some beautifully illustrated frames achieved via the technique of rotoscoping. It is ridiculously catchy.
However, an earlier version of “Take on Me” exists. The ’84 version, though it does not have as high of a tempo as the revamped ’85 one, is still aesthetically pleasing.
Another great take on “Take on Me” that a-ha has recorded is the Kygo Remix, which is highly evocative of playing under the sun, the outdoors, or taking in the beach. This rendition of the song feels nostalgic and classy, yet refreshing and easy-going at the same time.
There have been a number of remixes of the song done in recent years to make it even more upbeat and quicker-paced than the classic 1985 rendition. One such remix has been hailed as “Take on Me — Symphonic Version.” Here it gets an orchestra-style treatment. It really brings the classic song to life, giving it a unique electrified grandeur.
Another superb remix of “Take on Me” is inspired by the version used in the trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One (2018). It is the extended Tribute Remix published by YouTuber GtaRemixJose.
Though more heavily instrument-focused, this particular remix does employ the inequitable a-ha vocals. Once again, this version of the song strikes a sense of grandeur into the listener.
Lastly, it is certainly worth mentioning a-ha’s MTV unplugged version of the song. Undoubtedly it is the rendition that has the slowest tempo. It is above all a peaceful listen. “Take on Me” usually has people out on the dance floor pulling out their craziest, shakiest moves.
However, the unplugged version is definitely a piece of music one dances slowly and smoothly to. It’s quite a drastic difference, but it is beautiful all the same.
For a song that has remained as popular as it has over the decades, it is inspiring to see the many variant forms “Take on Me” has taken. And it continues to appeal to music-lovers more than 30 years down the road.
(Song recommendation by John Tuttle)