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Friday, September 4, 2015

A-ha "Take On Me" Isolated Vocals

A-ha "Take On Me" cover image
It's always cool to hear inside a song that you've heard so much over the years and today's isolated track is no exception. It's the lead vocal track from the new-wave classic "Take On Me" by the Norwegian synth-pop band A-ha.

The rotoscoped music video was a huge hit on MTV back when the song was released in 1985, but you still hear this record played a lot on the radio. Here's what to listen for:

1. The vocal range of singer Morton Harket is pretty evident, as he goes from his full voice in a lower register to a strong falsetto with ease (and no punches, as far as I can tell).

2. There's a lot of grunts, sing alongs and breaths between phrases, which we'd probably clean up if the song was recorded today.

3. Listen to the medium length delayed reverb. It sounds like it's band-passed using a technique like the Abbey Road Reverb Trick. The song was actually recorded at Pete Townshend's Eel Pie Studios (sadly now defunct).

4. You can hear the the 100Hz test tone as the song begins at 0:21 if you listen on headphones.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting to hear! Thank you :-)
And, as it happens, you published this on the exact day that a-ha released their tenth studio album, thirty years after Take On Me...


Anonymous said...

Fascinating - thank you for posting. I've always been curious to hear Morten's vocal isolated like this - it's a real treat.

Anonymous said...

Full of errors, it wasn't recorded at Eel Pie at all.

Chris Goosman said...

The pitch effect on the reverb is a little dizzying, but certainly works in the track.

I'm curious if the anonymous commenter can tell us where it was recorded, if not at Eel Pie. Eel Pie makes sense considering the availability of the Synclavier there, which this song was supposedly written with.

Rand said...

Outstanding 5 octave range singing talent from Morton Harket regardless. Not everything needs to be 'fixed in the mix'. Over-analysis only sucks the enjoyment out of the recording and listening experience. Besides, 99.9% of people who love a song either can't hear anything 'wrong' or couldn't care less anyway.

Someone else who makes it appear effortless today is Adam Lambert. Anyone who can fill the late great Freddie's shoes in concert also deserves respect and admiration.

Steve Curtis said...

Yeah the pitch effect wow ! Wasn't expecting that .. Now need to hear the whole mix in context haha


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