Hunting High and Low

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This article is about the album. For other uses, see Hunting High and Low (disambiguation).
Hunting High and Low
Hunting High and Low.jpg
Studio album by a-ha
Released 1 June 1985
Recorded 1984–1985
Studio Eel Pie Studios, Twickenham
Label Warner Bros.
a-ha chronology
Hunting High And Low
Scoundrel Days
Singles from Hunting High and Low
  1. "Take On Me"
    Released: 16 September 1985 (3rd UK release)
  2. "Love is Reason"
    Released: 1985
  3. "The Sun Always Shines on T.V."
    Released: 16 December 1985 (UK)
  4. "Train of Thought"
    Released: 24 March 1986 (UK)
  5. "Hunting High and Low"
    Released: 2 June 1986 (UK)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars link
Robert Christgau C− link
Musicfolio 3.5/5 stars link

Hunting High and Low is the debut studio album by the Norwegian new wave band A-ha. Released on 1 June 1985 through Warner Bros. Records, the album was a huge commercial success selling more than 10 million units worldwide, peaking at number fifteen on the US Billboard 200 and reaching high positions on charts worldwide. The album was recorded at Eel Pie Studios in Twickenham, produced by Tony Mansfield, John Ratcliff and Alan Tarney.

In all, five singles from the album were released, though not all were released internationally: "Take On Me", "Love Is Reason", "The Sun Always Shines on T.V.", "Train of Thought" and "Hunting High and Low". The group was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards in 1986, making A-ha the first Norwegian band to be nominated for a Grammy.

As part of a re-release of their first two albums, Hunting High and Low was expanded and remastered in 2010.


"Take On Me" was the first single released by the band. An early version was recorded and released in late 1984 with an early music video. The song became a #3 hit in A-ha's native Norway but failed to chart in the United Kingdom. The band went back into the studio to re-record the song for the Hunting High and Low album, but a second UK release in early 1985 was again ignored. Before releasing their single in the United States, the band undertook the production of a new music video for the song, working with director Steve Barron. Barron had previously created hit videos for Toto, Thomas Dolby, Culture Club and Michael Jackson, but the A-ha video was unlike any of his earlier work. A plot-driven amalgamation of live-action and rotoscope-style animation by husband-and-wife team Michael Patterson and Candace Reckinger, it drew inspiration from Patterson's animated film Commuter and the film Altered States. The innovative video for "Take On Me" was first broadcast on local Boston music video station V-66, and soon after given heavy rotation on MTV.

The single debuted in Billboard the week of 13 July 1985, and was heading into the U.S. top twenty when it was given an international release, including a second release in Norway and a third shot at the UK market. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, spending 27 weeks on the charts and becoming the tenth-biggest single of 1985,[1] and this time going to number two in the United Kingdom and number one in Norway. In all, the song reached number one in 36 countries, becoming one of the world's best-selling singles of all time with nearly 9 million copies sold.

The second single for most of the world was "The Sun Always Shines on TV" ("Love is Reason" had failed to hit the Norwegian Top 40 earlier in the year), and the band followed its massively successful music video with another critically acclaimed clip for the song. Starting off as a sequel of sorts, Harket breaks away from his happy ending to join his band in performance amidst mannequins at a rural church, Saint Albans in Teddington, which has since become an art gallery. "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." improved upon the first single's success in the United Kingdom, hitting number one and remaining there for two weeks in January 1986. It was a top-10 hit nearly everywhere it was released except in the United States, where it peaked at #20 and would be the band's last major hit to date in that country. The single sold 5 million copies around the world. The track was remixed as a dance version, which was a top-5 hit on the U.S. Dance chart, and B-side to the single and remix was the otherwise unreleased "Driftwood."

"Train of Thought" saw limited release as the third single in Europe. It was not released as a 7" in the United States but received rock radio play and a set of remixes again made the dance charts. Waaktaar based the lyrics for this song on existentialist authors and poets Gunvor Hofmo, Knut Hamsun and Fyodor Dostoevsky, his favourites at the time. It was A-ha's third consecutive Top 10 single in the United Kingdom and Ireland, reaching #8 and #5 respectively, and charting well in Germany and Sweden. World sales hit 500,000 copies.

The last single from the album was "Hunting High and Low", released in June 1986. The single saw its highest chartings in France, where it peaked at number four,[2] and the United Kingdom, where it was number five.[3] The single was released in the United States but did not make the Hot 100. An extended version was available on 12" vinyl, but the midtempo track did not see dance chart success.

Coldplay, a band influenced by A-ha, has been known to perform "Hunting High and Low" in concert.

The "Take On Me" video was nominated for eight 1986 MTV Video Music Awards, and at the third annual ceremony 5 September 1986, the video won six awards, including Best New Artist and Viewer's Choice.[4] "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." was nominated for an additional three awards, winning two, for a total of eight wins. Even as the total number of categories has nearly doubled, only one other artist to date has won as many MTV Awards in a single year. Peter Gabriel won nine the following year for "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time," two videos which progressed further down the roads A-ha ventured in groundbreaking use of animation in music video.

In 2002, "Take On Me" was ranked at number eight on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders, although this status is slightly misleading as it reflects A-ha's lack of mainstream success in the United States; the group was by no means a one-hit wonder elsewhere or in career terms. In 2006, "Take On Me" was ranked number 24 on VH1's Greatest Songs of the 1980s.[5]

The cover photograph was taken by Just Loomis and was nominated in 1986 for a Grammy as "Album Cover of the Year."

The band released a live version of "The Sun Always Shines on TV" in 2003.

Release and reception[edit]

Hunting High and Low was a-ha's breakout album. Upon its release in May 1985, Hunting High and Low peaked at number 15 on the Billboard's Top 200 album chart. The album granted A-ha international recognition. Hunting High and Low got 3x platinum status in the UK and Platinum status in the United States and Germany, and Gold status in Brazil, and the Netherlands.The album reached #11 in the European top-100 albums sales chart.

The album peaked at 15 in the U.S., according to Billboard music charts and has sold about 1.8 million copies in the U.S. It peaked at 2 on the UK charts (re-enter at number 83 in 2015), and hit 1 in Norway. The album has been certified platinum in the United States and 3x platinum in UK.[6] On the Billboard 200, Hunting High and Low held the record for the highest-charting album by a Norwegian artist until Do It Again by Norwegian duo Röyksopp and Swedish singer Robyn (which peaked at number 14).[7]

Beginning with the single "Take On Me", A-ha's debut album sold more than eight million copies worldwide and spawned two number one hits. In the fall of 1986, "Take On Me" and "The Sun Always Shines on TV" were nominated for 11 MTV Video Awards combined, and A-ha won eight of these.[8]

Tim DiGravina of AllMusic Guide said "It's a cohesive album with smart pace changeups, and it rarely fails to delight or satisfy a listener's need for a synth pop fix... One can't escape the feeling that Hunting High and Low is a product of the 1980s, but with highs like 'Take On Me' and 'The Sun Always Shines on TV,' and no lows in sight, A-ha's debut is a treat worth relishing."[8]

The album has sold more than ten million copies worldwide.[9]

Hunting High and Low Tour[edit]

In June 1986, A-ha began a world tour which went through to February 1987. The band had never played a single concert when "Take On Me" shot to #1 in America; soon it could boast a 16-country, 113-city tour under its belt along with countless interviews and television appearances.[8]


On 6 May 2010, the band announced the remaster and re-release of the album. The two disc album will comprise the original album and four 12" tracks on one disc, while the second will feature 19 rare demos and unreleased songs from this era.

On 6 July 2010 the albums Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days were released as deluxe editions in the United States through Rhino Records and both albums debuted in the Top 40 on the Billboard Top Internet Sales Chart; Hunting High and Low at #34 and Scoundrel Days at #36.[10]

Hunting High and Low (remaster) charts: #39 Germany, #32 Norway, #27 Hungary, #165 UK

Scoundrel Days (remaster) charts: #52 Germany, #27 Norway, #190 UK

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Pål Waaktaar; all music composed by Waaktaar except where noted.

  1. "Take On Me" – 3:48 (Waaktaar/Furuholmen/Harket)
  2. "Train of Thought" – 4:14
  3. "Hunting High and Low" – 3:45
  4. "The Blue Sky" – 2:36
  5. "Living a Boy's Adventure Tale" – 5:00 (Waaktaar/Harket)
  6. "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." – 5:08
  7. "And You Tell Me" – 1:51
  8. "Love Is Reason" – 3:04 (Waaktaar/Furuholmen)
  9. "I Dream Myself Alive" – 3:06 (Waaktaar/Furuholmen)
  10. "Here I Stand and Face the Rain" – 4:30

2010 deluxe edition[edit]

Disc 1 bonus tracks[11][12]
  1. "Take On Me" – 3:48 (Waaktaar/Furuholmen/Harket)
  2. "Train of Thought" – 4:14
  3. "Hunting High and Low" – 3:45
  4. "The Blue Sky" – 2:36
  5. "Living a Boy's Adventure Tale" – 5:00 (Waaktaar/Harket)
  6. "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." – 5:08
  7. "And You Tell Me" – 1:51
  8. "Love Is Reason" – 3:04 (Waaktaar/Furuholmen)
  9. "I Dream Myself Alive" – 3:06 (Waaktaar/Furuholmen)
  10. "Here I Stand and Face the Rain" – 4:30
  11. "Take On Me" (Original 1984 7" Version)
  12. "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." (Extended Mix)
  13. "Train of Thought" (U.S. Mix)
  14. "Hunting High and Low" (Extended Remix)
Disc 2
  1. "Take On Me" (demo)
  2. "Train of Thought" (demo)
  3. "Hunting High and Low" (demo)
  4. "The Blue Sky" (demo)
  5. "Living a Boy's Adventure Tale" (early version)
  6. "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." (demo)
  7. "And You Tell Me" (demo)
  8. "Love Is Reason" (demo)
  9. "I Dream Myself Alive" (demo)
  10. "Here I Stand and Face the Rain" (demo)
  11. "Stop! And Make Your Mind Up"
  12. "Driftwood"
  13. "Dot the I"
  14. "The Love Goodbye"
  15. "Nothing to It"
  16. "Go to Sleep"
  17. "Monday Mourning"
  18. "All the Planes That Come In on the Quiet"
  19. "Never Never"
  20. "What's That You're Doing to Yourself"
  21. "You Have Grown Thoughtful Again"
  22. "Lesson One" (Autumn 1982 "Take On Me" demo)
  23. "Presenting Lily Mars"

There are also four bonus download-only tracks on each release, available in most countries:

  1. "The Sun Always Shines on T.V." (extended version)
  2. "Take On Me" (Instrumental Mix)
  3. "Hunting High and Low (slow version demo)
  4. "Take On Me" (1984 12" Mix)


  • Morten Harket – lead & backing vocals
  • Magne Furuholmen – keyboards, bass & drum programming, backing vocals
  • Pål Waaktaar – guitars, backing vocals
  • Claire Jarvis – oboe (Track 5)
  • Bobby Hata – mastering
  • John Ratcliff – production, remixing, keyboards & backing vocals (Track 8)
  • Alan Tarney – production (Tracks 1 & 6)
  • Tony Mansfield – production (Tracks 2-5, 7, 9, 10)
  • Jeffrey Kent Ayeroff – art direction, design
  • Neill King – engineering
  • Jeri McManus – art direction, cover design, design
  • Bob Ludwig – mastering
  • Just Loomis – photography

Chart positions[edit]


Chart Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[13] 15
Austria Austrian Albums Chart[14] 1
Belgium Belgian Albums Chart 6
Canada Canadian Albums Chart[15] 8
Netherlands Dutch Albums Chart 11
Finland Finnish Albums Chart 8
France French Albums Chart 7
Germany German Albums Chart[16] 10
Italy Italian Albums Chart[17] 17
Japan Japanese Albums Chart 8
New Zealand New Zealand Albums Chart 1
Norway Norwegian Album Chart[18] 1
Portugal Portuguese Albums Chart 4
Spain Spanish Albums Chart 20
Sweden Swedish Albums Chart[19] 1
Switzerland Swiss Albums Chart[20] 10
United Kingdom UK Albums Chart[21] 2
United States US Billboard 200[22] 15

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1985-1986) Position
Canadian Albums Chart[15] 49
Dutch Albums Chart 46
France (SNEP)[23] 36
German Albums Chart[citation needed] 11
Italy (FIMI)[24] 90
UK Albums Chart[21] 7




Year Name Chart Peak
1985 "Take On Me" Austrian Singles Chart 1
French Singles Chart 3
German Singles Chart 1
Irish Singles Chart 2
Italian Singles Chart 1
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
Swedish Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 2
US Billboard Hot 100 1
"The Sun Always Shines on T.V." Austrian Singles Chart 8
French Singles Chart 10
German Singles Chart 5
Irish Singles Chart 1
Italian Singles Chart 11
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
Swedish Singles Chart 2
Swiss Singles Chart 7
UK Singles Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 20
1986 "Train of Thought" German Singles Chart 14
Irish Singles Chart 5
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 8
"Hunting High and Low" Austrian Singles Chart 24
French Singles Chart 4
German Singles Chart 11
Irish Singles Chart 4
Italian Singles Chart 10
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 5


  1. ^ Billboard[dead link]
  2. ^ Steffen Hung. "French Singles Chart". Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "British Singles Chart". 16 March 2000. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "Best Music from the 1980s". 80s Music Lyrics. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "VH1 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s". Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "British album certifications – A-ha – Hunting High and Low". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 19 October 2010.  Enter Hunting High and Low in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Search
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c "A-ha biography". Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. 
  9. ^ "Hunting High and Low". Archived from the original on 18 December 2008. 
  10. ^ "Deluxe albums enter US Billboard charts | The Official Website of a-ha". Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "A-Ha | Hunting High And Low (Deluxe Edition)". Rhino. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  12. ^ "Upcoming special releases | The Official Website of a-ha". Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  13. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.  NOTE: Used for Australian Singles and Albums charting from 1970 until ARIA created their own charts in mid-1988.
  14. ^ Austrian Album Chart Cited 26 March 2008
  15. ^ a b "Canadian Album Chart". RPM. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  16. ^ "German Album Chart". Charts-surfer. Archived from the original on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  17. ^ "Italian Album Chart". Italian charts. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  18. ^ Norwegian Albums Chart, Cited 26 March 2008
  19. ^ Swedish Album Chart, Cited 26 March 2008
  20. ^ Swiss album Chart page on Start Something in various European charts, Cited 26 March 2008
  21. ^ a b "UK Album Chart". 16 March 2000. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  22. ^ 26 March 2008
  23. ^ [1]
  24. ^ "I singoli più venduti del 1985" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Creative Commons. Retrieved 9 August 2015. 
  25. ^ "Austrian certifications – Hunting High and Low" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Hunting High and Low in the field Titel. Click Suchen
  26. ^ "Brazilian certifications – Hunting High and Low" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. 
  27. ^ "French certifications – Hunting High and Low" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  28. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Hunting High and Low')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  31. ^ "Norwegian certifications – Hunting High and Low" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norway. 
  32. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards ('Hunting High and Low')". Hung Medien. 
  33. ^
  34. ^ "Recording Industry Association of America". RIAA. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  35. ^ "Norwegian Singles Chart". VG-lista. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  36. ^ "American Single Charts". VG-lista. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  37. ^ "American Single Charts". Billboard. Retrieved 7 May 2008. [dead link]
  38. ^ "British Single Chart". UK Top 40. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  39. ^ "Swedish Singles Chart". Hitlista. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  40. ^ "French Singles Chart". Palmares. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  41. ^ "Austrian Singles Chart". Austria Top 40. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  42. ^ "Swiss Singles Chart". Schweizer Hitparade. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  43. ^ "Irish Singles Chart". The Irish Chart. Retrieved 7 March 2008. 
  44. ^ "German Singles Chart". Charts-Surfer. Retrieved 7 June 2008. [dead link]
  45. ^ "Italian Singles Chart". hitparadeitalia. Retrieved 7 June 2008. 

External links[edit]