Archive for the ‘Morten’ Category

Morten guest on This Morning

On ‘This Morning’, 1 February 2021

Morten was a guest on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ today, joining in live from Norway, to talk about his time on The Masked Singer. The whole interview can be seen on YouTube.

“I needed to get out of my comfort zone, and this was a good way of doing that”, he said of why he chose to take part.

On the Masked Singer panel not recognizing him, even as he sang “Take On Me”:
“I thought it was blatantly obvious, [even] before then, that it was me.”

On singing inside the costume:
“My personal sound system was failing me, so it was very confusing. That made it harder. It also made it impossible for me to dodge my voice or to play with it in other ways, because I had no center.”

On the a-ha tour being postponed:
“We had to pull the plug on a big tour, because of the pandemic, like a lot of my peers have had to do. The fortunate thing for people like myself is that you would use this period as a hiatus and that means you can write songs and do other things that we would have been doing in off-times anyway.”

Morten was also a guest on Heart Breakfast today. A video clip of that interview is available here.

There were also additional comments in interviews with RadioTimes and Mirror.

Morten is unmasked on The Masked Singer

This viking has broken records and forged his own way.

After appearing in four episodes of The Masked Singer UK, tonight it was time for Viking to take off his mask. And as most people had guessed for weeks, it turned out to be Morten Harket under the helmet.

The song he performed tonight was “The Scientist” by Coldplay, but he received the fewest votes from the studio audience and had to be unmasked.
Here is the moment when his identity is finally revealed:

 
“My main reason for joining was that I knew how much I would be exposed to performing conditions of which I would have very little control. It’s the complete opposite of my usual mindset. Knowing I would hate that, was an excellent reason”, Morten says in an interview with a-ha.com.

He admits that performing inside the viking costume was quite challenging:

“It was decidedly uncomfortable to navigate, especially as my sound system was getting wonky… that and the confines of the helmet sometimes reaching my elbows. At times I kind of felt like a drunk trying to cross the M4. To be inside the costume made my movements even clumsier than my usual standard :)”

Morten was also interviewed by Will Njobvu on Unmasked on ITV Hub.

Before the unmasking, one of the additional clues on tonight’s episode was Viking quoting a lyric from one of Morten’s solo songs: “I cannot take what you cannot give” from “I’m The One” (2012).

Viking sings “Take On Me”

Viking on The Masked Singer, 23 January

The viking was back for his third appearance on The Masked Singer on ITV yesterday, as all eight remaining singers competed against each other for the first time. This time, each song would be a clue to the singer’s identity.

In a surprising move, Viking got on stage and performed the acoustic version of “Take On Me”, perhaps the most obvious clue ever presented on The Masked Singer.

Anyone with functioning ears would by now have worked out that Morten is behind the mask – apart from the show’s panel, consisting of Mo Gilligan, Davina McCall, Rita Ora and Jonathan Ross. They keep coming up with entirely random and bizarre guesses.

As Viking himself puts it: “One thing’s for sure; this panel has no clue as to who I am”. But much of their dialogue is obviously scripted, so they have probably been asked to keep the suspense by not naming Morten.

New clues from Viking on this episode:
“Vikings might have been around for millennia, but my career has been one of billions. It was over a billion people who watched me do my thing” = “Take On Me” reached a billion views on YouTube last year.
“As a viking I rely on tools I was born with and tools I can create. Like my sword for example, which was forged in the silver mines of my homeland” = the “sword” is his voice, which he was born with in Kongsberg, a town known for its silver mines.
“As precious metals go, steel has proved rather useful in my career” = a-ha’s last studioalbum was Cast In Steel (2015).

This time Morten was among those chosen to go directly to the next episode, so he will be back on 30 January for a new performance.
Meanwhile, Bush Baby was unmasked and turned out to be actor/comedian John Thomson. The complete episode from yesterday can be seen here.

Two new songs by Viking on The Masked Singer

The Viking’s movements on stage are familiarly sparse.

Anyone who may still have had the tiniest amount of doubt that Morten is behind the Viking mask on The Masked Singer UK, would have been convinced yesterday – as we were presented with two different songs performed in his unmistakable voice.

First up was Harry Styles’ hit single “Watermelon Sugar” from 2019, which may not have been the best choice for Morten to sing, as he didn’t sound entirely comfortable. Morten is known to be extremely sensitive to the acoustics surrounding him and needing constant adjustments to his in-ear-monitors, so singing live with a big mask on is clearly a challenge. It also makes his vocals sound somewhat muffled.

New clues to the Viking’s identity included him waving an American flag, which would point to “Take On Me” topping the Billboard chart in 1985. The Viking throwing away sheet music hints to the fact that Morten took piano lessons for a number of years as a child, but never learnt to read music, instead preferring to discover music on his own. Breaking records would include a-ha setting a world record for the largest paying concert audience in 1991 and Morten setting a record for the longest note held in a pop song with “Summer Moved On” in 2000. He is also the “proud owner of a Blue Peter badge”, which he got when he was a guest on the show in 1986.

Other masked singers in this episode included Grandfather Clock, Harlequin, Bush Baby and Blob. At the end Viking and Grandfather Clock were the singers with the least amount of votes, so they had to do a sing-off.

Morten chose Seal’s “Crazy” from 1990 as his second song, in which he also appeared to be struggling to maintain the right pitch. But luckily for Morten it turned out he was only up against a former football player and manager, as the Grandfather Clock had to take off his mask and reveal himself to be Glenn Hoddle. So Morten is on to the next episode, to air Saturday 23 January, when he’ll compete against all the seven other masked singers who remain in the contest.

The whole episode from yesterday can be seen here.

Is Morten on The Masked Singer in the UK?

Viking on The Masked Singer, 2 January 2021

The a-ha fan community lit up last night, when a very familiar voice appeared on the UK version of The Masked Singer on ITV.

Dressed up as a viking, the person inside performed a haunting version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird”. The video can be seen here.

The clues given were also a clear indication who might be inside the costume, as can be seen in a video posted here. “King’s rock” equals Kongsberg in Norwegian – the city where Morten was born. He played the role of The King in the Norwegian-dubbed version of the movie Mirror Mirror. And he has been a mentor on two seasons of The Voice in Norway.

Additionally, the viking said he also wears “another kind of armour”. All three members of a-ha have been appointed Knights First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav.

In September 2009 Morten selected a number of his favourite songs for “Tracks of my years” on the Ken Bruce show on BBC Radio 2, and the first song he chose was Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird”.

“Christine McVie is one of the singers that have had the most influence on me. She’s credited, obviously, for her voice, for her singing and songwriting. I just think she’s greater than that. It’s the tone of her voice, the way she uses it. I think she’s truly great”, Morten told Ken Bruce back then. Later that same month he performed “Songbird” at a solo concert in Norway.

The judges and studio audience on The Masked Singer liked what they heard, and Viking is through to the next round. He beat Seahorse, who turned out to be Mel B from the Spice Girls.

According to Deadline, the second season of The Masked Singer was shot over eight nights at Bovingdon Studios, north of London, in September 2020.

The show has also been a big hit in Norway recently, as Maskorama, where the influencer Herman Dahl was revealed to be inside the viking costume.

New interviews with Morten

Picture by JS

Morten has resurfaced to do a few interviews in connection with the release of the German edition of Ørjan Nilsson’s book, Heimkehr – Morten Harkets prägende Phase 1993-1998.

In conversation with Redaktions­Netzwerk Deutschland (RND) he’s asked about his interest in music as a child, his time on The Voice and his thoughts on what can be done to combat climate change.

He is also asked about the possibilities of another a-ha studio album. Here are a few quotes:

“RND: Will there be another a-ha album?

Morten: Personally I believe that you’ll hear more from our band. But it could also be that we’re done [with studio albums]. Both options are possible. At this point I only know that Magne is working on new songs and that I’m writing songs myself. I’m sure that Paul is also making music at the moment, but he’s stuck in California because of the corona pandemic and can’t travel anywhere else.

RND: But will these songs appear on a joint album?

Morten: In the end it may culminate in something that we’ll do together. But it’s also possible that the songs will be used for solo projects. I have already heard a couple of Magne’s new songs and they are really good. It could indeed become a-ha material, but we’ll have to see what happens. We’ve done a few tours in the last couple of years, but we haven’t actually been together in the studio for a while. Time flies by. It’s impressive to look back at how long we’ve been on the road.”

Morten has also been interviewed by the German fansite morten-harket.de. The audio interview is password-protected and available exclusively for those who have purchased the book.

By the way, I’m told those interested in reading the book in English can try purchasing the Kindle version of the German book, which adds the possibility of switching between German and English.

Songs from Morten’s 1998 collaboration with Boolaboss appear online

“The Secret” single cover

Back in 1998, Morten recorded six songs together with the Swedish/Irish drum ‘n’ bass duo Boolaboss, consisting of Walter Bäcklin and Mark O’Sullivan. The songs were called “The Secret”, “Giant Steps”, “Butterfly”, “My Star”, “This is a nothing” and “Things I”. Sonically, this was new and exciting territory for Morten and fans were eager to hear what it sounded like.

The first single “The Secret” was planned for release in February 1999, but was eventually cancelled due to Morten shifting his focus to a-ha and the recording of the Minor Earth | Major Sky album. In the end, none of the songs from the Boolaboss collaboration were released back then.

During work on Ørjan Nilsson’s book project Hjemkomst – Morten Harket 1993-1998, the recordings were rediscovered in Mark O’Sullivan’s archive. In February 2019, Morten and Mark met up again in Stockholm to discuss the possibility of finally releasing the songs.

“That was a really exciting collaboration, and it’s very unfortunate that nothing was ever released. I’ve been thinking about it many times since. The single, “The Secret”, was really cool”, Morten says in Hjemkomst.

Although an official release is still pending, Mark O’Sullivan has now posted three of the songs on his YouTube channel:
The Secret    My Star    This is a nothing

“Morten is an absolutely brilliant singer (…) The first song we recorded together was “The Secret”, which I wrote for my brother. It’s a very emotional song, and right away Morten understood what I was aiming for”, O’Sullivan told Swedish newspaper Expressen in October 1998.

A lot more info about the Boolaboss collaboration can be found in Ørjan Nilsson’s Norwegian book Hjemkomst – Morten Harket 1993-1998, which is now also available in German – as Heimkehr – Morten Harkets prägende Phase 1993-1998.

Elvira Nikolaisen records duet with Morten

Norwegian singer-songwriter Elvira Nikolaisen posted a new Christmas song on her website on 25 December, a duet with Morten Harket called “I Look To You This Time Of Year”. She has also posted a picture of them together at a piano on her Instagram.

Elvira Nikolaisen has released four albums since her debut Quiet Exit in 2006.

Back in 2007, Morten and Elvira appeared together in Oslo to promote the launch of Amnesty International’s “Make Some Noise” campaign, for which both a-ha and Elvira contributed cover versions of John Lennon songs.

Update: The song has since been removed, but can still be heard on YouTube.

Morten guest on live podcast show

Jan Thomas, Einar Tørnquist and Morten at Chat Noir, 17 December

Morten was a special guest on a live Christmas edition of the Norwegian podcast Jan Thomas og Einar blir venner [Jan Thomas and Einar become friends] at Chat Noir in Oslo last night. Hosted by the unlikely duo of musician/TV-host Einar Tørnquist and celebrity stylist Jan Thomas, the podcast has quickly become one of the most popular in Norway.

Morten, 17 December

Topics covered in the humorous conversation included Morten’s friendship with Jan Thomas, which started with Morten’s partner Inez recommending him to do his hair. “That is the fun thing about Jan; we don’t reflect about things in the same way, but no matter what direction I drift off in, he keeps up with me”, Morten said about the conversations they have at Jan Thomas’ hair studio.

Jan Thomas told the story of how, following the tragic Orlando shooting in 2016, he asked Morten to take part in the annual Pride Parade in Oslo, which he immediately agreed to. “I really appreciated him doing that”, Jan Thomas said.

Morten was also asked about his interest in insects and butterflies and impressed the audience with his knowledge in a butterfly quiz.

At the end Jan Thomas read a self-written poem about Morten, which referenced the Norwegian-dubbed version of the Julia Roberts film Mirror Mirror (2012), in which Jan Thomas played one of the seven dwarves while Morten played the king (Sean Bean).

The podcast show aired live on the streaming service Dplay, and can be seen here (premium subscribers only).

This was Morten’s second public appearance this month. On 3 December he did another book conversation about Hjemkomst together with Ørjan Nilsson and Audun Vinger, this time at the public library in Haugesund.

This week also marks exactly 40 years since Morten first heard Bridges live in concert. On 16 December 1979 the band performed at Asker Gymnasium, which made a profound impact on him. “It stunned me, right there on the floor”, Morten has said later. After the gig he briefly met Magne and Paul for the very first time.

Book release in Oslo

Morten and Ørjan signing books at Tanum

Ørjan Nilsson’s book Hjemkomst, about Morten’s solo projects from 1993 – 1998, was published on Thursday, 26 September. Ørjan and Morten marked the book release with an hour-long conversation with Audun Vinger at Tanum Karl Johan in Oslo, followed by an extensive signing session.

One of Vinger’s questions was about how it felt for Morten, who is used to being misquoted, to let someone else write about this important period of his life and career:

“I liked Ørjan’s approach to this project. I also liked the fact that he had written the book about Paul, and thought that he could do the same with me. Then both books would have one thing in common, and any differences would appear naturally. That’s important to any book. So we met up and talked, and took it from there. It’s been a lot of work. We had quite a lot of interview sessions, and that was something I pushed for in particular. Because if I’m going to do something like this, I want it to be as thorough as possible. It’s also been vital for me that Ørjan has to write his own parts, and I have to speak my own parts. So whenever I’m quoted in the book, I have often added my own written quotes afterwards to supplement the interview sessions. The rest has been up to Ørjan and the various other people who have been interviewed for the book. Just having it properly organized like this, that’s been important to me”, Morten said.

Dagsavisen’s reviewer Geir Rakvaag has written quite a positive review (paywall) of the book:

“Morten Harket has just turned 60 years old. The new book Hjemkomst provides an interesting look at six of those years, when his life and career took a new turn. (…) Much of the content is detailed info for those with a particular interest in Morten Harket as a musician, about other musicians he has worked with, producers, studios and record labels. (…) But Hjemkomst is just as much about Morten Harket as a person as it is about music. In particular his activism for East-Timor. (…) With this, Ørjan Nilsson has completed solid books about Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and Morten Harket. It’s fair to assume the next one will be about Magne Furuholmen.”

Morgenbladet’s reviewer Ando Woltmann also likes the book (paywall), although he’s not really a fan of Morten’s solo music:

“Nilsson’s book is full of lively interview subjects, often with opposing views, and is a good example of a topic that’s more fun to read about than listen to. Still, Morten Harket remains an enigma in Norwegian pop as he turns 60 – he’s a dreamer we all should be grateful to share this ride through the cosmos together with.”

To promote the book Morten was a guest on the NRK talkshow Lindmo on Friday night. The episode can be viewed here (starts at 19:30).

Ørjan Nilsson also appeared on NRK’s Nyhetsmorgen to talk about the book (starts at 01:49:00), as well as Kulturstripa.

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