Posts by Peter

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    Great work. Thoroughly enjoy listen to your podcast and agreeing/disagreeing with the ranking. The only bad thing about it is that there is only one episode to go.

    Thanks a lot sycamore That's really nice of you! And yes, it's a real shame that there's only one more episode to go. We do have some ideas for a possible season 2, so maybe there is more to come. But first there will be... an interlude :D

    Fantastic that you already knew about the "And then there's an interlude..." :D I'll make sure to tell Jesper that his performance in the show has crossed over to our good friends south of the border as well. And thanks for sycamore for digging the out the clip. Otherwise I was going to do it because we just re-watched it today after someone commented on YouTube (our FIRST YouTube comment) that they had seen the "interlude" clip back then and was totally excited that we were the ones behind it! Well, I can't (and won't) take credit for it. That's Jesper's time to shine :) But I do remember that he was super excited and we talked about it a lot back then. We'd known each other for maybe three years at that time and a-ha friends were "few and far between" so it was great to share the excitement :)


    The Nürnberg comment during the Mary Ellen part I think was just Jesper trying to find a Germany city that started with N like New York :) I don't think any of us remember exactly where in Germany it took place - incl. the recording of the album - but I do remember being a bit jealous of all you German fans with ARD, ZDF, RTL, the hundreds of radio stations etc. That's why this Forum was so awesome!


    How Sweet It Was: We are at that same concert in Berlin together with another friend who's also an a-ha fan. I remember us not being at all impressed with the first half of the show which seemed uninspired, the audience seemed disengaged, the performance of the songs were so-so - even How Sweet It Was which should have been a real treat! So we were a bit disappointed at first. But I also remember a feeling of relief when the performance slowly picked up and in the end it was a good experience. I just think the SETLIST was better than the actual CONCERT :) But I would love for a-ha to pick up HSIW, LTTS, EOTS and TWOTW again. Even CP would be good to hear live again even if it's not my biggest favourite. Sadly I think they need to lay DITN to rest as I don't think Morten's voice can carry it all the way anymore :(


    Crying In the Rain: I had a similar experience but just with a re-run of a radio programme focusing on Nordic music. They played HHAL and TLD from Rock In Rio II and the re-run was broadcasted around 02:00 during the night of my graduation from elementary school. I simply had to leave the party early and go home, sleep on a mattress in our living room with my ghetto blaster next to me so that I could record the two songs and the interview in the middle of the night. It was shortly after the cancellation of what should have been my first ever a-ha concert in Copenhagen (exactly 1 week before the Rock in Rio II concert) so I HAD to tape it. Similarly actually with SMO from Nobel in 1998. I had to leave a dinner party for a short while to go and watch and videotape the performance :) I remember at first not being convinced about SMO but it didn't take more than a few repeated listens before it hit bullseye!


    The Weight of the Wind: Yes, it's just such a fantastic song - also in the 1993 acoustic version! Really, really awesome track!


    Thanks for all the comments :)


    Peter

    Hi again,


    We always enjoy your feedback, thecompanyman because we agree :D Except for the part about ABITC which I think was extremely beautiful at the MTV session and one they could do something fantastic with. And Barely Hanging On is just a personal favorite - maybe because it stands out a bit from the rest of the MEMS songs (overall, at least).


    Shadow Endeavours is just so cool! I agree that it's extremely high pitched, and I am not sure I'd like to hear it played live =O But I really think it's one of the most interesting pieces they have done since 2000. It's not THE best of the 2nd coming, not at all, but it has something that grabs my attention in the production. And I love the "Let us pay no mind..." part.


    TBTMTB is simply a cool song, right? But commercially it probably suffered from not having a real chorus, which is something a-ha has done repeatedly. That can be great for the song itself, but it's rarely a commercially wise choise.

    Well, only 25 more songs to go ;)


    Best,


    Peter

    Hallo liebe a-ha-Freunde!


    Episode 5 of "Ranking Highs and Lows" is available now!


    In the fifth episode of Ranking Highs and Lows where we rank 147 a-ha songs from the worst to the best we this time count down from 50 to 26. In other words are now ready to reveal the first batch of songs we have found worthy of a place in the mythic top 50!


    In this episode we encounter a song that both of us like but for quite different reasons, we run into some serious compromises and discuss which version of a song is the right one to rank. We also come across some big hits, discuss the importance of the production of a song, find out if there is such a thing as “The Waaktaar-Savoy School for the Brokenhearted” and uncover which colour palette seems to dominate a-ha song titles.


    This episode also features the tale of when we met Morten and reminded him of songs he possibly had forgotten about, we discuss how far down the word “funky” is on the list of adjectives that describe a-ha, and we bask in the pride you can feel as a fan when an a-ha song does well on the charts. All this and much more awaits you as we get close to the top 25.


    As always you can find us in your favourite podcast app if you just search for "a-ha Ranking Highs and Lows", or you can simply click here: https://www.spreaker.com/show/a-ha-ranking-highs-and-lows. It's 82 minutes of pure a-ha related content for your listening pleasure!


    In case you prefer to read rather than listen or just want to check out the list again in written form then check out our blog where we go through the ranking in writing and sometimes add a bit more detail to some of the rankings. Both formats complement each other quite well, we think. In the blog you can find previous parts of the ranking as well. Check it out here: https://www.rankingaha.dk/


    And of course: Please take the opportunity to join the discussion about our ranking here on Facebook where we’d love to hear your thoughts: http://www.facebook.com/rankingaha. We appreciate each and every comment we have had so far!


    And of course you can lie down in darkness and check out all the songs from the ranking on our Spotify playlist as well:
    https://sptfy.com/rankingaha


    Hoffentlich gefällt's euch!


    Viele Grüsse,


    Peter (JP in the podcast and the blog)

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    You are right, Reality brought us another problem. 8o As they mention those two new tracks as part of the coming Greatest Hits album, I thought maybe one of them could be the working title of Move To Memphis. Who knows? Paul must know, we should ask him. ;)

    Hi Sofia,


    yes, that could very well be. Or even the working title of some of the songs that ended up on Memorial Beach. That's the frustrating part: For Pål it might just have been a song he was working on and later discarded. For fans it becomes a sort of "enigma" that can take mythological status :D


    And btw: It seems like you've caught up quite well!!!

    I wasn’t a member of the Hamburg fanclub until late 1990 so the mention of “So Lonely” was before my time, but now that you bring it up it sounds strangely familiar 🤔


    Wouldn’t it be great to spend a week in a-ha’s or Pål’s vaults? 😄 And then another day to just ask Pål about the songs. I dream myself alive here (although that’s more of a Magne song…)

    Hi Sofia,


    Half of a memory tells half a story! Of course, it was Reality, not Bar Room!!! How could I forget? That just makes it even worse, because where on Earth is the Reality demo then?!?!


    Bar Room was - I think, but I’ve stopped making guarantees now! - mentioned in an article in Norwegian newspaper VG. Andreas also saw it somewhere else (see a previous post).


    And sorry for the confusion with the names. My name is Jens Peter, here on the Forum my username has always been Peter, but friends mostly call me JP for short. So in the podcast and on the blog I’m JP. It’s easy to tell me apart from Jesper on the podcast/blog as I’m the one who is right about the quality of the songs whenever we have a disagreement 😄


    And to make matters worse we also have Peter The Producer, which is another reason why it’s easier to call me JP.


    You’ve made my day with your Bravo archaeology, although I’m gutted about forgetting Reality!


    Best,


    Jens Peter/Peter aus Dänemark/JP

    Hi Sofia,


    Fantastic! Thanks a lot. Again, I'm quite sure the article was from around the Headlines & Deadlines time, 1991/1992. I will go as far as to say that it's a single page article (don't hold me to it!) and there's very likely a picture of Morten with long hair.

    I'll have a look as well :)


    VG

    Peter

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    Die Leute dort waren die Helden meiner Jugend gewesen. :hei: Vor 2 Jahren hatte ich mit einer ehemaligen Verantwortlichen vom Berliner FC einen kurzen Austausch per Mail und dabei wurde mir gratuliert, dass ich im Endeffekt den Übergang in die Internetwelt für die a-ha Fanbase aktiv begleitet habe.

    Well, at least I've been following this forum since... the beginning, I think! This one and another German forum (called something related to MEMS?) were my go-to forums around the Comeback in 2000, but the other one disappeared at one point.

    Without this forum I wouldn't have been half as well-informed as I feel now :D

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    Kein Problem Peter :five: , after all these years...I forget names too :elchgrin:

    Well, as long as we remember the names Martin, Magnus and Phil we're all good :elchgrin:


    I was also a member of the Hamburger fanclub from around 1990 to 1996-ish and a year or so with the Berliner Fanclub as well. Excellent sources of information for anyone living in a country where news of (or TV performances by) a-ha were few and far between.

    Hi Emma,


    apart from your preference for Magne's songs and my preference for Pål's (by and large) I think we agree on most other things :)


    The Swing of Things in top 25? Maybe, who knows :) Remember, there are two of us doing the ranking and we need to agree!


    Stay tuned for the next release on Thursday!!


    Peter

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    Sorry to intrude, but I got curious about that BRAVO article and had to check my archive. :D It's from 1991 (August 22) and the guy's name was Marcus Lutz. He and another guy (Roland) ran a fanclub in Freiburg. ;)

    Hi Sofia,


    Excellent archiving work!! 😄 I can’t believe I got the name wrong after 30 years 😂 Thanks a lot for clarifying. I might even be wrong when it comes to remembering if it was that article where Box On The Air was mentioned?? 🤔 In my mind I see three different articles from BRAVO that each could be the right one…


    Sorry Andreas! 😵‍💫😄

    Hi Emma,


    No one can accuse you of not doing your a-homework! 😄 Very well argued with loads and loads of excellent points.


    It’s just funny how perceptions differ, because I tend to see more blank spaces in Pål’s lyrics than in Magne’s. And here we’re are talking IN GENERAL because there are plenty of exceptions for both writers. What I admire about Pål is that he can write lyrics that are very personal (about his parents, about Lauren, about life, about love) yet make me feel I can relate and see myself in it.


    But in a way it’s silly as this is not a question of choosing Pål OR Magne when we luckily can have both (and Morten for that matter) and in some cases it’s easier to connect with one than the other. And for instance I really like Dragonfly, Dream Myself Alive, Lamb…, Never Sweeter, Kryptonite. So I’m not anti-Magne, but I’m personally not sure I think his contributions have made the recent albums better. But that’s honestly a matter of taste and THAT is difficult to discuss - even if it can be fun 😄


    I do think you have a point about Cosy Prison being as much a reminder to himself as to us. That’s a really good observation. But I’m not going to change my perception of it regardless!! 😉


    I suppose I see it like this: In an ideal world I would have all three band members working TOGETHER with a shared vision, but if I could only choose between an a-ha album filled with songs either written by Magne or by Pål I would take the latter anyday!


    Thanks for the discussion 👍🏻😊


    Peter

    Hi Andreas,


    Don't remind me of the 1991 concerts! That was supposed to be my FIRST a-ha concert (I was 11 when they played in DK in 1986 and couldn't go to Copenhagen from where I lived) and just two days before the concert I found out it had been cancelled - possibly because of too low ticket sales. Exactly one week later a-ha played to 198.000 fans in Rio. The contrast was enormous! Early Morning, Rolling Thunder and I Call Your Name were three of the songs I had been looking forward to the most. ICYN because I pictured how Morten and Pål would share the microphone during the chorus like they did in the video :) But Early Morning meant a lot to me from the start and still does today. I love the organic sound.


    The launch plans - or the LACK of launch plans - is something I also comment on in "Ranking Highs and Lows". It just really feels to me like there is no-one (maybe not even a-ha) that shows a real interest in the final product. It's like "Yup, I've played/sung my part in the studio. Done!" and then there is no more love for the project. For instance: In a time where vinyl has such a revival, how on Earth can anyone agree to leaving She's Humming A Tune off the CIS vinyl edition??? To make it even more ironical: She's Humming... even starts with the sound of static noise like when you play a record! :( I understand that the record is too long to fit on one vinyl, but most albums seem to be double albums these days anyways (not a big fan of that to be honest...) but there's just no real thought put into the final product. It's all about "how many songs do I get on the album" and "I like THIS version of the song better where I get to choose the producer, so now I insist on making THAT version the radio single". It's sad, really.


    the many remixes of the same song also mostly fail to grab me. I buy them, I listen to them a couple of times, but when I can't feel a-ha's involvement in the mix then I lose interest. 8-10 different Celice mixes... Why not 15 or 35 then? None of them seem to have had any input from a-ha/Magne so it's such a 'random' thing to me.

    Give me PROPER physical formats that are made with love and respect, give me coherent production, give me collaboration, give me a sense that the people involved actually CARE what happens after the recording. And give me a new tour like in 1991 or 1993/94 without any reliance on video screens etc. where a song can have a 3 minute guitar solo one night and a 5 minute Hammond organ solo the next and where the performance of the song isn't defined by a video that is 3:47 minutes long.


    Other than that I won't ask for more ;)


    Peter

    Hi Emma,


    I'll try to keep it short but there are enough good questions and reflections in your post to warrant a whole thesis :)

    I definitely like it when a-ha push the boundaries of what is typical a-ha. I think they do that very well on songs like Sycamore Leaves, The Way We Talk, Shadow Endeavors, Over The Treetops, some of the demos, Start The Simulator, Door Ajar, Did Anyone Approach You? and many more. So that actually begs the question: What IS 'typical a-ha' actually? And I suppose it's something different to different people. I don't necessarily see Magne's songs as pushing any boundaries - more erasing the boundaries between a-ha and Magne solo. I don't want to come across as a "Magne opponent" because I'm certainly not - that should be clear from the podcast and the blog both now and in the coming episodes - but I get the feeling that Magne has STARTED to think "What's best for me and what's best for a-ha" in that order. And I can totally understand that due to all the unresolved issues and conflicts in the band, so I regard it as a very human reaction. Another thing that is a bit weird is actually that I personally LOVE words, I can speak for (too) long, I love the written word etc. so I SHOULD like Magne's lyrics more because he seems to be in love with playing with words and phrases, but maybe that's where I get the feeling that there's too much form and not always enough content. But as you say it's probably dependent on if you relate to certain lyrics, and your reaction is a valid as mine and as the third and fourth person. Maybe it's also a part of being a visual artist like Magne - maybe you like the visual aspect of the many words, the wordplays, creating things out of words. Maybe you recall his horrible website where links were hidden in thousands of words on the frontpage :D


    Magne TELLING me what to feel: Cosy Prisons for sure. Too much life advice from clever Uncle Magne. "So if you're careful / You won't get hurt / But if you're careful all the time / Then what's it worth". I can see how a person can love that and relate to it, and I can't say that I don't agree with the words, but it's nowhere near as elegant as the same point written much shorter: "It's no better to be safe than sorry". Differences is another example, but to me personally that's a horrible song in melody, lyrics, feeling. White Canvas is another example. "Your life is a canvas / The colours are you". I may sound cynical but I just see Instagram quote all over those examples :D Those are a few examples. There are more, but that's not the point. However, there are also gorgeous lyrics like Dragonfly, Lifelines, Lamb To The Slaughter, Solace and several of his solo songs.

    Pål MAKING me feel: How long a list do you want? :D "Loneliness can be ignored / And time has shown me how". "Though I'm older than my looks and older than my years / I'm too young to take on my deepest fears". Living A Boy's Adventure Tales. Shadow Endeavors. (Seemingly) Nonstop July. Memorial Beach. I Call Your Name. Soft Rains of April. Cold As Stone. The list goes on and on and on - and doesn't even include Savoy (Once Upon A Year, Watertowers, I Should've Told You and many many more!) or Waaktaar & Zoe (e.g. the title track from World of Trouble). I like the mix between the very concrete - maybe what you call daily love and simple life - and the very abstract.


    How wonderful to disagree yet keep a constructive tone. That's what this forum always does so excellently!


    Peter

    Early Morning has always been a big favorite of mine and periodically even THE favourite which doesn’t automatically mean that it’s a-ha’s best song because sometimes you can recognize that another song IS better but it doesn’t move you the same way as your favorite. If that makes any sense at all! 😅😂 Early Morning is absolutely phenomenal if you ask me. But there are so many great songs that I can’t even guarantee that it won’t appear already in episode 5. In any case we are also two people who had to agree on the list 😱


    I’ll never be a HUGE fan of Cosy Prisons but I do admit that I’ve been unfairly hard on it in the past. It IS a very good song (I like the song better than I like the lyrics, but I seem to be a bit alone with THAT view so I could be wrong, so wrong!). Analogue as a whole has a lot of the coherence we often ask for in an album, but there’s probably too much Keane/early Coldplay piano sound on that album to really thrill me - especially Magne’s songs except for Celice. I SHOULD theoretically like Analogue more than I do but luckily there are some pearls on that album as well.


    But Early Morning… Wow! I think I’ll set the alarm to 8 o’clock precise tomorrow even if it’s January and not August 🥱

    Yes, that guitar at the end of Scoundrel Days from Live in South America is probably the highlight for me in any a-ha live performance. Mind-blowing!


    I think Magne's songs up until Lifelines were more a-ha than they are on Analogue and later. Maybe not a big surprise as it was after Lifelines that he really started to develop an own identity as a songwriter. For me it just sounds like he got too flattered by the praise from Coldplay and Keane and started to emulate them. I know it's not that simple, but I get that feeling. Still, songs like Kryptonite, 2cU Shine, A Dot of Black..., Dragonfly (the original), and The Longest Night are great songs, and there is plenty of cool stuff on the Apparatjik albums as well. This Is Now America is also a very strong track, but as a whole I never really connected with White Xmas Lies (but of course bought the album with the artwork - what can you do? :D ). I'm not a big fan of Magne's lyrics overall, but there are definitely some nuggets on later albums. But as I mention in the podcast and on the blog I just often feel like he's TELLING me what to feel, whereas Pål MAKES me feel it. And that he sometimes seems to fall in love with clever play on words. But I 100% understand that others can feel differently about it. Taste is a difficult thing to discuss! :D

    I think Savoy's songs are anything BUT straightforward. Songs like Lackluster Me, I Should've Told You, Isotope, Bovine, Tongue Tied, Sunlit Byways, Daylight's Wasting, Mary Is Coming, We Will Never Forget, Easy, Once Upon A Year, Reasons To Stay Indoors, Empty Of Feeling... there are simply so many fantastic songs! It's incredible!!

    Morten on Masked Singer: I stopped following it after he got voted off. And honestly, apart from Songbird I think he sound off on most songs (maybe except for TOM, but that one was too easy...). To me he has the best voice in the world - no one even comes close - but he's probably not the best singer if you know what I mean. No-one moves me vocally the way Morten does, but I've always been a bit... disappointed, maybe... with his apparent lack of ability to improvise during concerts. Yes, there are small variations here and there that makes you stop and listen, but I never get the feeling that he's comfortable enough to just let it all out - not since 1994 and his first solo years at least. That may not be a 100% fair analysis on my part, but whereas he CREATES magic in the studio it feels like he's trying to RE-create magic on stage but not add anything new. But honestly, what he IS capable of live and in the studio is beyond beautiful.


    Peter

    Hi Andreas,


    I was sure it was you :) But I'll have to dig out my old "Ordner" and find the article. Again, I may be mixing up two different articles but it's definitely around 1992 and it's definitely from BRAVO where a guy called Andreas and some other guy whose name I've forgotten now (the ran a fan club, I think) handed an Oscar to Bravo for being the magazine with the best articles about a-ha. And a-ha/Morten did feature fairly regularly in Bravo at least in the beginning of 1992 incl. posters of Morten from his "Indianer Phase" with Silje. Oh dear! :D

    I definitely recall the OTTO Wahl and remember being annoyed when a-ha only got 6th best band after the EOTSWOTM comeback :D I also remember being upset when the 1988 OTTO Wahl saw Bros beat a-ha as "Enttäuschendsten Band" or something like that - until I learned what Enttäuschend meant :D

    I also recall having seen the Bar Room title being mentioned in VG or Dagbladet back in 1992, I think, but Box On The Air was ever only mentioned in that Bravo article. Weird. I was also upset about the MB lyrics missing but didn't think to complain about it. I never bought MB on cassette which was stupid, but what was even more stupid is that I saw the vinyl version in a small record store in a Danish town I was visiting with my family and didn't buy it! I don't know what come over me!!?!? Later I then had to buy a Brazilian copy on eBay at a much higher price. That goes to show: Never delay buying an a-ha album!


    So many memories... :)

    Hi Emma,


    A lot of what you're saying above could have been copied directly from my brain :D So we are quite aligned on many things. Great minds think alike and all that jazz ;)

    Scoundrel Days from Live in South America is possibly the live song I have listened to the most. Both Pål and Magne on guitars, Morten's voice in peak condition, the intensity, the drama... It's just absolutely wonderful!

    I know there are a lot of Magne fans out there, and I totally get that. What a great guy he is, and what a wonderful musician! I will any day prefer Pål over Magne both when it comes to a-ha and their solo stuff (yes, I definitely listen to a-ha solo albums! Morten, Savoy, Magne, Apparatjik, Waaktaar & Zoe...) as I get the feeling especially since 2002 that Magne has something he wants to prove which makes sense when you watch the documentary. It's like he's said "screw that! I'm doing it MY way", which I can sympathize with but I don't really think many of the songs are what I would call "a-ha songs". I would call them "Magne songs with Morten on vocals", but at the same time I admit that the same can said for some of Pål's songs on the later albums. I don't know... to me Magne just sometimes becomes a bit too lecturing in his lyrics, whereas I appreciate the more abstract qualities of some of Pål's songs. Having said that: There are more Magne songs to come in the last episodes :) Plus some of this solo stuff is excellent such as Past Perfect Future Tense or A Dot of Black in the Blue of your Bliss. I just don't like the whole "I don't want to do a-ha anymore. But I don't want to NOT do a-ha anymore either". But still - Morten, Magne and Pål are a-ha, I'm not, so who am I to say what's fair and what is not???


    Morten's contributions to a-ha have... mixed qualities, let's put it like that ;) Wild Seed is a wonderful album. So is Vogts Villa. I think the real low point was Out Of My Hands, but neither Letter From Egypt nor Brother (apart from the title track) really impressed me. But that's a looong discussion and possibly one we'll pick up on in what we hope will be season 2 of "Ranking Highs and Lows".

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and impressions. I think we see many things the same way. And don't hesitate to also jump over to http://www.facebook.com/rankingaha and join the discussion there. The question there right now after we struggled in the podcast to agree on Angel in the Snow is:


    What do YOU think of Angel In The Snow? An overrated sugarcoated piece of Valentine's Day candy or an underrated 24 carat gold ring? :D


    Peter