When I declared in a hyperbolic manner a few days ago that Magne F fans were “horrified” with the new a-ha single I was quickly pulled up for my “exaggeration”. Which is fair enough – that’s what hyperbole is. So let me simply say that they many seem discontented.
The focus of their ire? The new a-ha single “Foot of the Mountain” is a shameless re-working of a track called “The Longest Night” that appeared on [a-ha keyboardist] Magne’s 2008 solo album “A Dot of Black In The Blue Of Your Bliss”. How shameless? Well, you decide.
Listen to “The Longest Night”
on Magne F’s MySpace page.
|Listen to a-ha’s new
single “Foot of the Mountain“.
So what’s the big deal? The vocal majority of Magne fans have issues with the new a-ha song. Points made publically on a relevant Facebook group are many and varied. Some think that interfering with the song in the way the band did was completely unnecessary given what a strong recording the original was … and that the new one does not match up. Some think the new chorus is lyrically detached from the rest of the song. Other points made are that it is “lazy”, that one should not cover “god”, that hearing Magne’s song first makes it hard to appreciate the new one and that it is “too polished”.
Some counter-points include the view that Morten’s vocal is superior to Magne’s and improves the song; and that the track may actually have been written for the band before Magne decided to throw it on to his solo record. That’s a good point.
But what do I think?
I have to admit to not recalling the Magne song at all when I first heard “Foot of the Mountain” – in fact I immediately thought I was listening to something Keane had written for them. It turns out I did hear “The Longest Night” on Magne’s webpage about a year ago and saw him perform it at a gig last May. I think it’s a very good track but that’s in the context of the lower expectations I have for Magne’s music.
Without the handicap of being attached to the Magne song, and so judging “Foot of the Mountain” on its own merits, I think a-ha have a really great pop song on their hands.
This single is all about getting on the radio, not creating an artistic masterpiece. To that end they have a polished, catchy pop-song with a great hook and a superior vocal from Morten.
To hold a-ha to some higher creative moral standard is really counter-productive. They should do whatever it takes to get a hit whether it be a cover version (“Crying in the Rain” was an immense recording) or with the assistance of Max Martin or any other songwriters for hire. This is about the chart, not art.
As far as I’m concerned the solo albums should be nothing more than a sandbox and not a place for the band member’s best material. There aren’t significant numbers of fans buying the solo work these days so if they write 12 solid tunes (which Magne did on his “Past Perfect Future Tense” album) it will go unnoticed (“What’s the point of writing songs that no one hears?”).
I’m fairly certain that 99% of Capital Radio’s audience who might hear “Foot of the Mountain” have never heard “The Longest Night” or had any idea that Magne releases solo music – in fact many may not know specifically who Magne is. And it’s this audience that are key to putting a-ha back in the charts – a few thousand loyal a-ha fans can’t do it alone.
Unfortunate as it is that some fans are disappointed that the band have plundered an existing recording, I can assure them that, as someone who is not “Magne-fied”, I think the new a-ha single is a winner.
And if it’s not? Well it’s only pop music.