a-ha podcast | Ranking Highs and Lows

  • Hi Andreas,


    that's my fault :)

    Es ist Dein Geschmack und das Du den Song unter anderen Eindrücken erlebt hast - mir blieb nur der YouTube Mitschnitt, aber er war für mich von Beginn an eine Perle. Selbst nicht a-ha Fans waren eindeutig mehr bei diesem Song als bei RTC, der mich nie gekriegt hat.


    Thanks for following the project :)

    Danke Euch für die Arbeit und die getroffenen Entscheidungen, ein Morten hätte sich nie festlegen können 8o

  • Ich finde die Liste auch sehr interessant und Danke für die Arbeit, auch wenn ich natürlich nicht immer eurer Meinung bin. Ganz falsch liegt ihr in meinen Augen bei „Living t the end of the World“ - für mich der beste Song nach Lifelines.

  • Quote

    Danke Euch für die Arbeit und die getroffenen Entscheidungen, ein Morten hätte sich nie festlegen können

    Hahaha! Morten would probably not even recall half of the songs! “This one was also new to me because I forget songs” 😉😂

  • Quote

    Ich finde die Liste auch sehr interessant und Danke für die Arbeit, auch wenn ich natürlich nicht immer eurer Meinung bin. Ganz falsch liegt ihr in meinen Augen bei „Living t the end of the World“ - für mich der beste Song nach Lifelines.

    Vielen Dank. Super nett von dir!


    And it’s really nice that we can disagree on certain songs as well. Geschmächer sind einfach verschieden 😊 And at least we haven’t covered Lifelines yet so maybe we agree more on that one 🤔😄

  • Auch ich finde es interessant, die Meinungen anderer zu einzelnen Songs zu hören, und bei den meisten am Ende der Liste war ich im Wesentlichen auch einverstanden.


    Natürlich habe ich auch etwas zu meckern. Ich finde, Did anyone approach you hat es nicht verdient so weit hinten zu landen. Erstens finde ich, es ist nicht schlimm wenn die Texte ein paar Gemeinheiten oder Spitzen zwischen Pal und Magne enthalten. Texte müssen Gefühle ansprechen, sonst sind sie irrelevant. Und wenn man glücklich verheiratet ist, beruflich erfolgreich und reich und man sonst keine großen Probleme hat, dann schreibt man halt auch mal ein paar fiese Gedanken über einen Bandkollegen auf, die in einem dunklen Moment hochgekommen sind. (Ich frage mich, was Morten sich dazu denkt, wenn er die Texte zu sehen bekommt und dann singt..) Wichtig ist nur, dass diese Texte immer noch allgemein genug sind, dass auch andere sich darin wiederfinden können.


    Zweitens finde ich, dass dieser Song musikalisch viel interessanter ist als er zuerst daherkommt. Ich habe ihn erst richtig entdeckt, als ich mal mit Kopfhörern das Video auf YT gesehen habe und über die Kopfhörer die verschiedenen "Schichten" so richtig hören konnte. Wie da alles zusammenwirkt: der Bass, Gitarren, der durchgehende Rhythmus, Keyboards, die Melodie, der Text und dann auch das Video (von Lauren), das ich ganz ansprechend finde. In den Kommentaren unter dem Video sind dann auch viele, die der Meinung sind das das ein Hit hätte sein müssen oder dass der Song komplett "underrated" ist.

  • Hi Falbala,


    Thanks a lot for following our project and commenting. That’s something we really appreciate 👍🏻😊


    In some ways I agree regarding the lyrics and that it’s OK to express anger or frustration but like Pål said in the recent documentary: That’s what the solo albums are for 😄😄😄 Also it must - as you mention - be weird for Morten to sing those songs and be the messenger. Luckily Morten probably doesn’t even remember what he sang two minutes ago 😉


    Did Anyone Approach You: My project partner Jesper is probably a bit more negative when it comes to this particular song. I still like it, but not as much as I used to. I do like however that a-ha sometimes breaks the formula like with DAAY, but I still think there are a lot better songs over the span of their career. But that’s also why it’s Hard to rank them. There could be many songs I would rate 7 or 8 on a 1-10 scale, but when you rank then one could end up as number 101 and the other as 78. So they are still good - one is just a bit better in ways you can’t always articulate.


    Let’s see how you feel about the top 75!


    Thanks again!

  • Did anyone approach you? Ist einer meiner Lieblingssongs. Ich finde den sehr erfrischend ehrlich und hat ne tolle Energie. Ich war echt entsetzt, den so weit unten zu sehen. Aber die Geschmäcker sind halt echt verschieden. Ich mag beispielsweise Memorial Beach gar nicht und hab mir deswegen echt schon was anhören dürfen 😂

  • Did anyone approach you? Ist einer meiner Lieblingssongs. Ich finde den sehr erfrischend ehrlich und hat ne tolle Energie. Ich war echt entsetzt, den so weit unten zu sehen. Aber die Geschmäcker sind halt echt verschieden. Ich mag beispielsweise Memorial Beach gar nicht und hab mir deswegen echt schon was anhören dürfen 😂

    Don't like Memorial Beach? :dgg:  :aetsch:
    Well, like I said: I really do like Did Anyone Approach You? Just not as much as I used to and not as much as like many other songs. But I agree: It IS refreshing. It's doubtful but not hopeless at all :saint:

  • Memorial Beach ist eine weitere Perle - it's an amazing track <3 Hoffentlich dauert es auch noch eine ganze Weile bis "Soft Rains of April" zu hören ist, denn der Song ist einfach WOW...besonders die Piano-Version ist ein Killer :schock: im positiven Sinne. Schade das die Band den Song nur bei wenigen Konzerten der "Cast in Steel"-Tour gespielt hat und er in der deutschen Setlist rausfiel. Aber dann muss ich halt nur bis zur "play Scoundrel Days live" Tour warten ;)

  • a-hallo a-ha Freunde,


    I'm pleased to announce that part 4 of "a-ha: Ranking Highs and Lows" is now available! :hf:


    In this fourth episode of Ranking Highs and Lows we continue our ranking of the 147 a-ha songs from worst to best by counting down from 75 to 51. This means that we're halfway through the tour and from here on it's (mostly) a smooth ride to the top.


    In this episode we will discuss how many cousins Driftwood actually has, get to know which song made one of us realize at a young age that we were maturing, and which song one of us considers more Beatles than The Beatles. We also challenge logic by wanting to move most songs to a higher position on the ranking.


    Furthermore we discuss whether a certain long-awaited demo lives up to the hype, we hear more about a heartbreak from the early 2000’s, and we ponder the reasons why a-ha’s singles in the later years often seem to be alternative mixes of songs that sounded better in the album version.

    We run into a UK Top 10 hit, disagree with some of the band members’ own view of their 1990’s sound, and get to hear which song just about missed a spot in our top 50. Curious? Go to your favourite podcast app and search for "a-ha Ranking Highs and Lows", or simply catch us on Spreaker: https://www.spreaker.com/show/a-ha-ranking-highs-and-lows


    Go to our blog at www.rankingaha.dk if you prefer to read rather than listen or just want to check out the list again in written form. Sometimes there is room for a bit more elaboration on the blog, so that can be a great supplement to the podcast. There you can find previous parts of the ranking as well and a bit of background for the project.


    I hope you will enjoy this episode. There are some REALLY good songs on there :)


    VG


    Peter

  • Hello, I have been following the project. But I disagree with a lot of the rankings. All my favorite songs are at the bottom, some being Mythomania, Cosy Prisons, and Did Anyone Approach You.


    I don't understand why a lot of the demos are up so high, to me they lack quality and don't seem like they would've turned into great songs.

  • Hi Emma,


    Thanks a lot for following the project and for sharing your thoughts. That’s at least half of the fun for us.


    I suppose it’s the nature of rankings such as this. They are totally personal and subjective, and if somebody else hd made the list before we did I’m sure I would feel the same way as you do: disagreeing with a lot of the choices (but maybe also agreeing on some?).


    I was personally never a fan of Mythomania. Cosy Prisons is one we ranked too low in hindsight, but that’s also what we realized: our own preferences for certain songs changes on an ongoing basis. For we Cosy Prisons is still not a top 50 track, but I can easily hear why some would have it as a favourite. Sometimes there are just songs that you in a way don’t really connect with, and to me Cosy Prisons is one of those songs.


    DAAY? is still a cool song, but I was probably more fond of it 15-20 years ago than I am today. The opposite can be said of a song like Shadowside which I have come to appreciate a lot more now than 10 years ago. So it luckily still changes and to me it shows that a-ha’s catalogue is forever alive and “evolving”.


    The demos: well, some of them we rate really low 😉 But there are others that we just really enjoy a lot and that we think has enormous quality even in the unfinished version. Plus they just have a certain charm, even the worst of them. At least we think so. Are there some demos that you like better than others?


    Thanks for the feedback. I hope you will stay tuned for the last episodes 😊


    Best regards,


    Peter

  • Und wieder eine schöne Folge von Euch :gs:


    Irgendwie konnte ich mit "Start the Simulator" nie richtig warm werden, so wie Du mit anderen Songs. :hmm:


    Bei Analogue stimme ich zu, dass der Song aus meiner Sicht bei seiner Premiere in Oslo Frognerparken seinen Höhepunkt hatte. :hei:


    Cast in Steel ist MEGA, aber leider konnte der Song als 2. digitale Single nix mehr erreichen, weil zu wenig Airplay und wenig Unterstützung von der Plattenfirma. :prost:


    The Way We Talk ist ganz klar der Verlierer auf dem EOTSWOTM Album, dass er es dennoch noch so hoch platziert wurde kann ich an dieser Stelle nicht mitgehen. Gerade wenn zuvor CIS oder ANALOGUE kamen fühlt es sich nicht korrekt an aus meiner Wahrnehmung. :schleich:


    Bar Room hätte ich auch lieber auf dem Album gehabt und dafür Mama gekickt. :yes:


    Angel in the Snow wurde so unfassbar versenkt, nach dem ich dachte, er könnte das gleiche Level an Leuten anziehen, wie es One von U2 kurze Zeit davor getan hatte. :motz:


    I call your name ist ein toller Song - alles gesagt. :kniefall:


    Mother Nature kannst Du auch bei den coolen Freunden vorspielen, die sonst nur Depeche Mode oder so hören. :headbanger:

  • Hi Andreas,


    thanks a lot for the positive feedback - again! :)


    Listening back to the episode I also think we lost the plot a few times :D But in the end we had to stop shuffling all the songs around and around in endless ways and just acknowledge that with a ranking the distance between two songs can look much greater than with a rating. The songs you mention there are all really strong and could easily be 7-8 (maybe 9) on a 1-10 scale, but in a ranking they can end up with 20 places between them. And on top of THAT you have all the compromises. So here's my take on it without thinking about compromises:


    Start The Simulator: This is my favourite from FOTM. I just think it has this "certain something" that Pål does so well, like any icy, eerie atmosphere. In a way like Isotope by Savoy. And Morten's vocals are excellent. It's one of those songs where I think a-ha are trying something different, and I really like that.


    Analogue: Totally agree! It was never better than in Frognerparken. That was a very special moment. It's still a very good song, but I still think - like I mentioned in the podcast and on the blog - that Morten's vocals disappear a little in the chorus which is a bit of a shame. I don't need to hear it played live for another 10-15 years ;)


    Cast In Steel: Definitely one of the highlights of that album. I would have put it somewhat higher on the list. But there are just SO many good songs left that in a way has meant more to me (or to us) or that we like even better. But I agree, it's a mega song, and should have been perfect for adult contemporary radio. But why on Earth did they release a download only single in a different mix? It's so illogical to me that I can't help but think that there is zero coordination of plan when a-ha release singles and albums. A shame. I still love this song.


    The Way We Talk: It was our lowest ranked song from EOTSWOTM, but I still think it's an important song, and it's one that still moves me. It must have taken Magne some guts to do what he did. Maybe we ranked it a bit too high, but it has more emotion than 90% of what they have released since 2000 (in my humble opinion :) )


    Bar Room: It's definitely a great song and MUCH better than BYMAY, but I still don't think it would fit on the MB album. I really enjoy Bar Room a lot, but it couldn't live up to the hype. Another question for you then: I have a feeling that it was in a BRAVO article that I read about Bar Room and Box On The Air, and I THINK it was an article that also featured you and a friend who handed over an "Oscar" to BRAVO for the best a-ha articles in 1991? I'm pretty sure it was an Andreas at least!! It could also be that Bar Room and Box On The Air were mentioned in another article than the one with the Oscar, but it was around the same time. I'd have to look in my old a-ha clippings folder to find it. Maybe you can shed some light on it? :D


    Angel In the Snow should definitely have been higher on the list! Maybe not top 10 which is where our producer would put it, but I think it's a much better song than Jesper does, so this was a case of compromising - again! I do think, though, that it hasn't retained all its glory from the past, but I could definitely see it go into top 50! But as you say it didn't do very well commercially, but at that time nobody except hardcore fans cared about a-ha. Not even the record company. Plus it lacks a chorus!


    I Call Your Name: Yes, that could also sneak into top 50, but we both had a feeling - on the day we made the list - that it sounded a bit outdated and a bit too long. But then on other days I really love it, and the lyrics are among Pål's best. I personally think it could be close to a top 40 track, but I'm repeating myself here: there are just TOO MANY GOOD SONGS!!! :D


    Mother Nature Goes To Heaven: Definitely a cool song. I would personally put it lower on the list and certainly a bit lower than Start The Simulator, because MNGTH is a bit more "ordinary". But it could possibly have been a good single, and I still enjoy listening to it. I don't think they cracked the code for it in the live version. Morten didn't really nail it in the concerts I attended or in the clips I've seen afterwards. But definitely one of the best songs on FOTM.


    Long post - there's always something to discuss when it comes to a-ha ;)


    Thanks for the support!


    VG.


    Peter

  • That's the thing, it is hard to do rankings if your opinion on the best songs changes a lot. Personally, I have a new favorite song nearly every week so I'd find ranking all the songs nearly impossible. I probably would only include the regular album tracks to make it simpler.


    Some songs that have been consistently my favorites are Summer Moved On, The Swing of Things, Manhattan Skyline, Dark is the Night, Shadowside, Cosy Prisons, Out of Blue Comes Green, Forever Not Yours, Solace, Oranges on Appletrees, and Under the Makeup. They aren't always the best songs now, but I'll always like them. Some of those will be in your top 50, I've noticed. Looking forward to seeing the final rankings!


    I have listened to more demos recently. Controversially, I like "You have grown thoughtful again" even though that was one of your lowest ranked songs 😂 Also, I recently listened to Case Closed on Silver Shore and Never Never, and found them to be good songs. Bar room is also really great, but I don't think it would have fit on Memorial Beach.


    Are you going to add the True North songs to the rankings when they come out?


    -Emma

  • Hi Emma,


    I completely get where you're coming from! I think our top 25 has ended up representing what we personally think are a-ha's finest moments even if they may not be absolute favorites at a given point in time (plus there are some compromises in top 25 as well one of which is one of your favorites but I'm of course not going to reveal which one ;) ) So for example there are certain songs that we are a bit fed up with for now, but we recognize that it's a fantastic song by any standard, and therefore it belongs in our top 25. And some of them are definitely also what I would call "mood songs". They may not be for every occasion, but when you're in the mood for it there's nothing quite like it.


    The demos... It was never a question of leaving them out. Or rather, it was never a question of leaving the demos out that ONLY exist in demo versions. We never wanted to include songs like One In A Million as it's just a poor version of White Canvas with another name, but all the ones that are there in their own right were always going to be included. But it is difficult because it's like you're comparing a quick sketch with a painting that has taken months, and how can you do that? So we basically just decided that we would treat the demos as if that's what the final version would sound like, which of course in many ways is nonsense, but it's also the only thing we really could do, because otherwise we'd be guessing. Having said that it of course plays a role if it sounds like there is a "big song" hidden in the demo. And regarding "You have grown thoughtful again" ;) I don't think we'd ever put it very high on the list, but I LIKE it more than I like for example Turn The Lights Down, although TTLD right now is a better song. I don't know if it makes sense :D And I'm also not 100% sure that we're being consistent all the way through but the idea is that we should be able to say "You Are The One" is a better song than "Umbrella", but I'd still rather listen to Umbrella. It's like with food: I can acknowledge that coq au vin is probably a better dish than a burger, but most times I'd prefer the burger (NOT that You Are The One is the musical equivalent to coq au vin!!)


    Adding True North? We're definitely planning on doing SOMETHING, but whether we fit it all into a new podcast or blog... that we don't know yet. But it's going to be awfully exciting and I for one would be thrilled if just one or two of the new songs can squeeze into our top 50!


    Thanks again for taking the time to comment :)


    Peter

  • I think can get what you're talking about in the first two paragraphs, it's kind of like having baseline songs that you know are good songs, but just get tired of them temporarily. That has happened to me a lot. Honestly, I will always appreciate every a-ha song on some level. I can definitely relate to the "mood songs". Some of them for me would be Shadow Endeavors, Minor Earth, Lifelines, Foot of the Mountain, Cold as Stone, The Living Daylights, and Maybe Maybe. Not my favorite songs, but at times I really enjoy them.


    For some songs, I prefer the live versions enormously. One example is Rolling Thunder. I never liked the album version much, but NRK Live and Live in South America are fantastic versions of the song. Another one is Under The Makeup. Even though I adore the Album Version, the live acoustic version is even better because of the piano part at the beginning. What do you think of MTV Unplugged: Summer Solstice? I prefer the album versions of most of the songs, except The Living Daylights, Stay on These Roads, and Living a Boy's Adventure Tale. And I love a-ha's cover of The Killing Moon.


    I'm REALLY excited for True North. I hope they release some singles from it in the next few months... it feels like a long time to wait until November. It would be great if a few of the songs became my new favorites. I never expected them to make a new album, but here we are.


    -Emma

  • Hi Emma,


    I think we're very much on the same page at least when it comes to how we relate to (or with a Morten phrase: respond to :D ) the music and the songs even if it's not always the same songs we like. "Baseline songs", as you call them, is probably as good description. And sometimes it's a very high baseline even if you wouldn't put that particular song on JUST to hear it. For instance I completely acknowledge that Stay On These Roads is an amazing song (as you can tell it's at least within our top 50...), but there are songs we rank lower that I'd be more likely to listen to right now, e.g. Start The Simulator or one of the demos.


    I get your point about the live songs although I must admit that in MOST cases I think a-ha - although they are a great live band especially around 1991-1994 and again from 2009 onwards - have struggled a bit to transfer the magic in the studio recordings over to the live stage. Partly maybe because it's so dependent on getting the sound absolutely right. I do agree reg. Rolling Thunder though (although I personally LOVE the studio version as well!) and I think Sycamore Leaves benefits from a live setting as well. Scoundrel Days from Live in South America is an absolute masterpiece, and there are several versions of Swing of Things that match the album version.

    I really liked Summer Solstice. In particular I thought This Alone Is Love worked magically! And Sox of the Fox was a real treat too. And Over The Treetops. There were many great versions, really. I didn't think the duets worked too well apart from The Killing Moon as you point out, but I honestly think that one would have been great (or even better) just with Morten rather than as a duet ;) Still, it was nice to see them shake the tree a bit and do something different.

    True North... Honestly, it can go both ways as far as I'm concerned. It can be really surprisingly good, but it could also be that the theme and the format becomes a bit of a straightjacket. I tend to get a bit concerned when Magne gets too involved and starts hijacking the project which I get a sense of here :D But really, I'm just thrilled that they're doing something new rather than just turning into a circus act that does the same setlist more or less over and over again.

    Peter

  • I could say that about pretty much all of a-ha's hits! Take On Me is probably on that high baseline for me... it's a very well-crafted song and I can see very well why it's a hit, but it's never been one of my favorite a-ha songs. Quite a controversial opinion in the world of a-ha; at the very least a controversial opinion for those who've heard of a-ha but only associate them with three world: Take On Me.


    I've thought the same thing about live a-ha. I used to not like it hardly at all, but that was because I hadn't really given live a-ha a chance. Now, I have an appreciation for many live versions of a-ha songs. But it is nearly impossible to transfer the perfection of their studio songs over to the live show. A-ha is one of the only bands I've heard in which the live versions of songs sound a LOT different from the studio versions. Maybe that's partly because a lot of recorded a-ha concerts have really bad audio quality, for whatever reason. My second favorite band, Simple Minds, has much better live audio quality, which is strange. I'll have to listen to the Live in South America Scoundrel Days. How Can I Sleep With Your Voice in my Head has been a long time favorite of mine, especially the live version of DAAY? I think The Swing of Things on that live album sounds similar to the studio version, if I can recall correctly.


    This Alone Is Love is one of my favorite's from Summer Solstice! At first listen I didn't like Sox of the Fox, but now I think it's wonderful. Over the Treetops is nice, but I prefer the studio version because of the electric guitar in the middle. The duets weren't too good, you're right about that. In my opinion, I've Been Losing You had the best duet. But it would've been fine with me if Morten had sung all of the duets himself. It's hard to beat his voice. Really hard 😂


    Hey, Magne's my favorite of the three. Haha. Personally, I don't mind if he has a large part in the album. It does seem like he has written quite a few songs in True North, such as "I'm in", "Bluest of Blue", and "Between the Halo and the Horn". Of course, I've noticed from your ranking explanations that you seem to prefer Pal. My concern leans toward Morten. Of the three I doubt his songwriting abilities the most, not because he's a bad songwriter necessarily but because I don't think he has written very good songs for a-ha. Holy Ground and Living at the End of the World are some of his low points. On the other hand, he's written some gems such as Cannot Hide and Forever Not Yours. His songs can be good, but not as good as Magne and Pal's. Speaking of the band members, do you listen to a-ha solo albums?


    Thank you for discussing a-ha with me, it's one of my favorite things to do!


    -Emma