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Here's what you know: A-ha's "Take on Me" is one of the most iconic and well-known songs of all time. Or, if you don't want to go that far, it's at least one of the biggest smash hits of the '80s new wave genre.
Here's what you need to know: A-ha recently released a brand new version of the song called "Take On Me (2017 Acoustic)" and it's fantastic.
This new take on an old classic is good. Really good. Backed by gentle acoustic guitar and soft piano, it's beautifully sweet and refreshing. The song translates into this tender version of itself surprisingly well, and instills almost a sense of nostalgia in the listener.
One of the best features of the acoustic version of this song is the lyrics. They're exactly the same as before, but let's be honest—who could actually understand any of the words besides the chorus? The words are reminiscent of a sweet love song, and it's a lot more powerful than I ever knew the song was before. While there's no extreme high note at the end of the chorus in this version, lines like "You're all the things I've got to remember" pack just as much of a punch as that moment when accompanied by this brand new iteration of the song. Plus, it's much more pleasant on the ears than someone screeching "IN A DAY OR TWOOOOO" in the middle of karaoke night.
The question might be on your mind: why now? For a song released in 1985, some may say this version is a few decades too late. Plus, we can't even call it a special anniversary or anything. You've never heard of the "32nd Birthday Edition" being a big deal, because 32 isn't really an extraordinary milestone. But really, it comes down to this: why not? In September of 2017, a little less than three months before this studio version was released, A-ha performed a live acoustic version for MTV Unplugged. Maybe that prompted the studio version. Maybe that made fans recognize that they needed a studio acoustic. Or, maybe, it's all just a grand coincidence. Maybe A-ha just wanted to record an acoustic version, and then they did. Who cares? It's here now, and we love it.
But the thing that I wanted to talk about most is probably the most iconic thing about "Take On Me." The synth riff. You know the one, it's one of the catchiest things on the planet, besides conjunctivitis or the common cold. The acoustic version does the dreamiest redo of the hook on piano. It's stripped down completely, and it's so simply beautiful. I think that really proves how inherently good this song is—even when all the technology and bells and whistles are gone, it's gorgeous. And they take it one step further, because the piano solo happens just once in the entire song. Upon first listening, I sat waiting until about halfway through for the jingle that I know so well. It's the best moment in the song because it just that, a moment. I had to hit replay the second the song ended, because I just wanted to hear the solo again. And then again, and then again. This version of the song is much shorter than the original, but it just flows so well on its own.
Maybe you don't think about "Take On Me" until it's playing at your Christmas Office Party, or when you flip to the Classic Oldies station as you're driving home, but that doesn't make it less great. The new acoustic version is a perfect reminder of that. A-ha has, what, two songs that people know? They have really created a great reminder for us of their music by turning their best song into an entirely different version of itself. And if you need further convincing, just keep in mind that there's no high note to hit in the chorus, so sing your heart out.