Wednesday, January 1, 2020

"Cry Wolf" by a-ha

Song#:  2999
Date:  01/24/1987
Debut:  82
Peak:  50
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Synthpop, Rock

Pop Bits:  This Norwegian band scored one of the decade's most memorable hits with the #1 "Take on Me." It was from their debut album, Hunting High and Low, that got to #15 and went platinum. By the fall of '86, the band was ready to release their follow-up album Scoundrel Days. In the UK and other territories, the first single from the LP was "I've Been Losing You." It did well getting to #1 in Norway and #8 in the UK. This song would be the second single issued out and it did equally as well reaching #2 in Norway and #5 UK. Stateside, it would be used as the album's first single. The track made some headway on the Dance chart getting to #14, but at Pop the best it could do was a Top 50 placement. "I'll Be Losing You" would follow it up, but the tune failed to chart. With those results, the album stopped at a low #74. Unfortunately, this song would be the band's last to get on the US Pop chart. Their last song to reach any US chart would be their 1990 remake of The Everly Brothers 1962 #6 hit "Crying in the Rain." That tune would get to #26 at AC. The band would remain popular throughout Europe for many years, but in the States they basically remained a one-hit wonder.

ReduxReview:  I think a-ha got a bum deal in the US with Scoundrel Days. Yeah, it didn't contain a "Take on Me"-sized hit, but this song, the rockin' "I've Been Losing You" and the shape-shifting "Manhattan Skyline" (#4 Norway/#13 UK) were good tracks that should have at least gotten them into the Top 40. It was definitely an underrated album in the States. This anxious tune with a memorable chorus played to a-ha's strengths, yet hardly anyone in the US paid attention. Perhaps folks were looking for a sequel to "Take on Me" and its popular experimental video. There may also have been promo problems at the label. I remember MTV premiering a-ha's video for "I've Been Losing You" and touting it as the first single, but that didn't happen. Maybe feedback made them change their minds and then they decided to issue out "Cry Wolf." I dunno. Something funky happened and it caused a-ha to sink quickly in the US. The band's third album, Stay on These Roads, was also a solid effort.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  Although a-ha's fortunes quickly dried up in the US, they were big stars in many other countries including the UK. That led to the band being selected to supply the title song to the 1988 installment of the James Bond film series, The Living Daylights, which was the first to star Timothy Dalton as Bond. The band worked with the film's score composer, John Barry, and came up with "The Living Daylights." It was released as a single and it hit the Top 10 in many countries including Norway (#1) and the UK (#5), yet it failed to reach any chart in the US. It kicked off an unfortunate pattern with the next four Bond theme songs unable to get on the US Pop chart (the artists on those themes were Gladys Knight, Tina Turner, Sheryl Crow, and Garbage). It took Madonna to turn things around with her 2002 #8 title track "Die Another Day." Apparently, a-ha and John Barry didn't get along very well so it created a tense atmosphere in the studio. In the end, a-ha liked the string arrangement Barry added to the tune, but overall they were not fully pleased with the final product. The band ended up reworking the song with producer Alan Tarney for inclusion on their third album, 1988's Stay on These Roads. The Pretenders were considered for supplying the theme song, but the film's producers thought a-ha could come up with a hit in the same way Duran Duran did with the previous Bond theme "A View to a Kill" (#1 Pop). The Pretenders still supplied two songs to the soundtrack with "Where Has Everybody Gone?" getting some airplay and making to #26 on the US Rock chart. In addition to The Pretenders, music from Pet Shop Boys was also considered. They submitted demos for songs and were eager to also work on the score as well, but producers selected a-ha. Pet Shop Boys would later salvage what would have been the movie's main theme song and turned it into "This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave," a track from their 1990 album Behavior.


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