Nats’ “Take On Me” fans aren’t afraid to take on the high notes


Washington Nationals' Michael Morse celebrates after scoring a run in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of their MLB NLDS playoff baseball series in St. Louis, Missouri October 7, 2012. (SARAH CONARD/REUTERS)

When Red Sox fans croon Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” during the eighth inning at Fenway Park, it only gives us another reason to hate the Red Sox. “Take on Me” has all the giddy charm of “Sweet Caroline,” but doesn’t feel half as hokey. It’s much trickier — hence, more fun — to sing. Oh, you don’t think it strikes fear into opponents’ hearts? Listen again. What’s more terrifying than a soprano mob belting out an Aquanet-doused feel-good anthem while its team is burying yours?

Anyone who has attended a recent Nats game can speak to the bouncy new wave fun of the Norwegian pop group’s mega-hit from 1985. The best part, of course, is striving for that high note — it’s an E5, by the way — in what Richards deems “banshee falsetto”: “I’ll be gone... In a day or twooooooo!”

Even though most people will never hit that note (which even has its own Facebook page) the song is a karaoke favorite. And if your voice falls a note (or an octave, or two) too low, that’s half the fun: The blend of voices reaching for that E5 and stopping screechingly short is the sound of fun. Watch:

Here’s another one, which gives you a real sense of how high that falsetto really is, and how many of the Nats fans would not fare well on “The Voice.”

And here’s Morse himself, who sings it, but disappointingly chooses to skip the falsetto (skip to the eight-minute mark).

Chris Richards chimes in:

A-ha singer Morten Harket mentioned that his band’s most recognizable tune has been covered by a black metal band and a North Korean accordion group. He was barely scratching the surface. This song seems to have been covered by anyone with access to a musical instrument and/or a larynx.

My favorite “Take on Me” cover will always be a rendition that arrived in the mid-’90s from Illinois then-teenage punk band Cap’n Jazz. The band’s version is ramshackle, out of tune and unashamed, as if lead singer Tim Kinsella was singing into a hairbrush while his parents were out of town for the weekend.

Here it is in the studio:

Here it is live:

And here are some other A-ha covers, good, bad and ugly.

Ska — Reel Big Fish:

Indie — A.C. Newman:

Metal — Northern Kings:

Pop-punk — MxPx:

Ummm… — Jim Carrey:

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
Chris Richards has been the Post's pop music critic since 2009. He's recently written about summer songs, festival fatigue, metal drumming and D.C. rap star Shy Glizzy.

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