Number Ones: #62


  • a-ha The Sun Always Shines On T.V. (Warner Bros.)
  • Week Ending 28th December 1985
  • 7 weeks At #1

Decades before “Scandi Noir” became a thing, thanks to subtitled BBC Four dramas and the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series of novels (and subsequent films), those Take On Me boys from Norway gave the world their second single, The Sun Always Shines On T.V., an epic slice of tortured, windswept pop.

Harder-edged than their introductory hit, laced with coruscating guitar licks and abrasive percussion, the synths just about held sway amidst a truly kitchen-sink production. Its yearning intro, all chiming bells and pleading vocals, plunges into the breakneck passages which are interspersed throughout the track’s five glorious minutes.

The first time I heard it, my head was spinning and, although I wasn’t to know it at the time, The Sun Always Shines On T.V. would prove to be a key part of a period where everything in my life got turned upside down.

It’s impossible to separate that time in mid-to-late December 1985, through to early the following year, with this piece of music and the way the accompanying album Hunting High & Low not only soundtracked it, but also in hindsight seemed to eerily foreshadow the turmoil ahead.

When the single debuted on my chart at #1, things could not have been better. 1985 had been a struggle at times, as any year for someone just in their teens invariably can be, a lot of adjustment and change (even in my developing music tastes, as some of the #1s will attest to!), but I felt I had emerged in a good place, not just health-wise, but socially I’d found my level too after a long time of upheaval.

By the time The Sun Always Shines On T.V. had spent the last of its (then-record) 7 weeks at the summit of my Top 40, it was a very different story. “All my powers fade away, I fear the crazed and lonely looks the mirror’s sending me these days” was proving to be uncomfortably prophetic. You’re 14 years old, your body fails you, the bottom falls out of your world in horribly quick fashion, things spin out of control at such a speed that you are reeling. How are you supposed to cope with that?

Music became more important to me than ever before. It became my only refuge. I let it consume me, and when the music was as fantastic as The Sun Always Shines On T.V. – and much of a-ha’s output during the rest of the decade – it helped me to survive. They were, until a certain outfit from Glasgow came along in 1989, my band.

And this record was, until I heard a particular song by that Glaswegian outfit in September 1989, by some distance the most important record in my life.

Oh, and it also somehow went to #1 on the UK charts. Yeah, it really was a crazy time.


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