Article: Seven million people watched a-ha

– Launched new album on Heidi Klum’s “Top Model”-show

a-ha got a great start of their German promoting round this week, when they appeared in the finale of the German “Top Model”-contest.

Cologne (Dagbladet): With Germany as one of their most important markets, a single launch in front of seven million German TV-viewers, live in prime-time, is invaluable.

“Germany’s Next Top Model”, hosted by the pregnant super model Heidi Klum, has been among Germany’s most popular TV-shows so far this year, and is broadcast on the channel Pro7/Sat1 – which owns a-ha’s German record label Starwatch.

Thursday’s show was held at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne – a familiar venue for a-ha, who both opened their “Analogue” tour here in 2005, and will open their next European tour at the same venue on 27 October this year.

The elevated stage construction, where Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy were standing separately inside their own boxes, lead to a good amount of self-irony in the a-ha camp. The creative conflicts within the band haven’t exactly been kept a secret in the Norwegian media previously.

“It feels just as silly as it looks in that Elvis Presley-movie”, Magne Furuholmen chuckles, referring to Elvis’ “Comeback Special” from 1968.

“I could barely stand upright in there. A very low roof”, Furuholmen says.

“But the view was great up there, we’ll give ’em that”, Morten Harket says. He talks about the recording of the new album, which like the first single is called Foot Of The Mountain, as being a real kick.

“This album represents a clear decision when it comes to choosing a specific direction. We have tried to limit ourselves and returned to a more synth-based sound. That’s been a wonderful thing to do. I see it as a revitalization of us as band”, Harket tells Dagbladet.

When the album is released on 19 June – three days before it’s out in Norway – the record label Starwatch’s A & R-boss Markus Hartmann expects somewhere between 200 000 and 400 000 copies to be sold. 200 000 is the limit for getting a platinum trophy in Germany.

Yesterday the single “Foot Of The Mountain” was released in Germany. The band also performed for a further one million German TV-viewers, on the pop-show “The Dome” in Munich, together with artists like Black Eyed Peas and Razorlight.

a-ha will do a lot of German promo- and TV-rounds in the next six months. In Cologne the main focus was doing interviews with German radio stations, and among those who had lined up with their microphones was Michaela Schaffrath, a former porn star who has her own hit show on RTL Radio.

a-ha also found time to shoot the music video for “Foot Of The Mountain” in Berlin earlier this week. Magne Furuholmen refers to it as being “abstract and double exposed, kind of like releasing a balloon”.

“For better or worse we are known for our videos, many of them have been milestones. It’s both a scourge and a tool”, he feels.

“It would perhaps have been more modern to shoot five videos in two days and upload them directly on YouTube, but we still put a lot of effort in our videos. We have 20 years of experience, and one good video saves us from doing ten boring breakfast TV appearances”, Magne Furuholmen says.


Big interest in England

a-ha will also do considerable amounts of promo in the British market this time.

After “Foot Of The Mountain” was picked up by BBC Radio 2 without much promo, the band has now made preparations for more promotion. The album will probably be released on 6 July, and they will do three large arena concerts as part of their European tour, including their first concert at the O2 Arena.

“We sold out Wembley Arena on the “Analogue”-tour, and we have played the same arenas in Birmingham and Manchester before. The interest in England is larger than we had anticipated, so now we’re chasing that ball and trying to get control of it”, a satisfied a-ha manager Harald Wiik tells Dagbladet.

This article appeared in Dagbladet, 23 May 2009.
Text: Sven Ove Bakke.
Photo: Gorm K. Gaare.

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