Song of the Day #5,169: ‘The Sun Always Shines On T.V.’ – A-Ha

I’ve always been fascinated by one-hit wonders. How can the same artists behind a song to which millions of people respond never manage to make it happen again?

Did they have just enough talent to squeeze out one good song? Or did they have tons of good material in them but, through a combination of bad luck and bad timing, never managed to find an audience for most of it?

Over the next two weeks, I’ll feature the second biggest hit of ten one-hit wonders, and see if I can unearth any gems.

A-Ha is the one-hit wonder that most fascinates me. That’s because the Norwegian new wave band wrote and recorded one of my all-time favorite songs in ‘Take On Me.’ That song is top ten for me, probably top five.

So how can the people responsible for such a work of genius never come close to matching its greatness again?

I realize that’s a loaded question, because A-Ha has plenty of loyal fans, particularly in their native Norway. They released nine albums after their debut, seven of which topped the Norwegian charts and the others hitting #2. ‘Take On Me’ is one of just nine #1 singles by the band on the Norwegian charts.

But only two of those singles crossed over to the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and for most American listeners the band pretty much disappeared after 1985.

The only other A-Ha song to crack the top 20 in the U.S. was ‘The Sun Always Shines On T.V.,’ a cut from Hunting High and Low, the band’s debut album (the same one that kicks off with ‘Take On Me’).

Having listened to that album a couple of times, and this song a few times more, all I can say is that it’s fine. Nothing about it suggests these men have ‘Take On Me’ in them.

Do any of my readers who were around in the mid-80s remember this song, or anything else by A-Ha for that matter?

Touch me, how can it be?
Believe me, the sun always shines on TV
Hold me close to your heart
Touch me and give all your love to me, to me

[Verse 1]
I reached inside myself and found
Nothing there to ease the pressure of my ever-worrying mind, oh
All my power wasted away
I fear the crazed and lonely looks the mirror’s sending me these days, oh

Touch me, how can it be?
Believe me, the sun always shines on TV
Hold me close to your heart
Touch me and give all your love to me

[Verse 2]
Please don’t ask me to defend
The shameful lowlands of the way I’m drifting gloomily through time, oh (Touch me)
I reached inside myself today (Give all your love)
Thinking there’s got to be some way to keep my troubles distant

Touch me, how can it be?
Believe me, the sun always shines on TV
Hold me close to your heart
Touch me and give all your love to me

Hold me close to your heart
Touch me and give all your love to me
To me

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,169: ‘The Sun Always Shines On T.V.’ – A-Ha

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    One-hit-wonders are indeed a fascinating phenomenon worthy of exploration. I think, though, any analysis really must begin with the recognition that to even have one major hit for an artist, no matter how talented or prolific that artist may be, is a rare thing. Think of how many exceedingly talented artists we know, like and even love who have never cracked the top ten or had a number 1 hit. Your beloved Josh Rouse comes immediately to mind. He has made great quality, accessible pop music for decades without even one major hit single.

    As to your question, yes I do recall today’s SOTD, and recall thinking at the time that it ain’t no “Take on Me.” I think generally record companies, radio stations and, back in the day, MTV, would always try to push the second single, and most people who loved the first one will be curious enough to give the second one a chance. But if lightning doesn’t strike twice, most people move on to the next big song by someone else and rarely return.

  2. Amy says:

    When Dana shared with me your current theme, I was immediately intrigued and wondered if you would consider A-Ha to be one.

    I’m not sure why my definition of “one hit wonder” excludes them. Though I can’t recall ever hearing today’s song, somehow the fact that I immediately knew the band’s name and can vividly recall their iconic video make them bigger than just their own hit song in America. The stats you share just confirm that gut feeling.

    Is there a difference between an artist or band that makes a living making music though only one song ever charts and one that, through some combination of luck or fate, comes together just to create that one hit song? For me, there is. Not sure how many of the latter there are, but I look forward to exploring along with you.

    • Clay says:

      I think many, if not most, one-hit wonders went on to have lengthy careers and many more releases, but never managed to land a song high on the charts again.

      The only difference between a one-hit wonder and every other band toiling away is that they did manage to have one song that everybody knows.

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