Inarguable pop classics #1: A-ha: The Sun Always Shines on TV

Norwegian pop perfectionists A-ha were always more than just another pop group, such was their reach and mastery of their craft: pretty much any of their 80’s singles could have made this article bar their lightweight playful songs such as “Touchy!” which to my mind never could match their darker more tense songs, and my god, “The Sun Always Shines …” is tense as hell.

It’s essentially a progressive rock epic filtered through a pop lens and is every bit as momentous as any of the great epic tracks we all know and love. Consider the way the tension builds throughout rising higher and higher and the fact that the drums don’t even appear until a minute in and the first verse almost two minutes in. This is far from your average pop song structurally but hangs together magnificently.

The relative serenity of the opening section and first chorus with its wistful chords suddenly gives way to pounding intensity, squealing guitars, ominous synth and stabbing minor piano chords with Mortens impassioned, desperate and impossibly high vocal holding it all together until the final chorus where the music crashes around him. Before a final stabbing piano chord a la “A Day In The Life” and the ominous burbling synths return to fade us out of an epic five minutes. Truly a classic of its time or any other and far more than ‘just’ a pop song in my humble opinion and just as exhilarating on the thousandth listen as it was on the first. True class.

  1. Can’t argue with any of that – guess that’s what makes it inarguable!

    Nice piece on a true classic – not just an 80’s classic. It’s amazing that the idea that A-Ha were a boy-band of some kind endured in spite of songs like this plus the likes of Scoundrel Days, I’ve Been Losing You, Manhattan Skyline and Train of Thought. I guess it shows the power of marketing and the damage that allowing a record company influence you into releasing singles like Touchy and You Are The One when they’re really not representative of who you are as a band.

    Anyway, great piece and nice to see a bit of recognition for a monstrous slab of epic rock/pop.

  2. I’ve always paired it with It’s a Sin. Both are monumentally and majestic synth songs. Towering over everything else in the genre.

  3. Comparing this fine A-ha track with the genius that is Pet Shop Boys is deeply offensive.

    Pet Shop Boys were trying to combine cutting edge dancefloor influences and mainstream success in a melange of pure pop dance.

    Aha sound to me like a traditional rock band trying to hang of the coat tails of synth pop, by dragging a decent but dated song into the early 80s with bang average synth sounds.

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