CULTURE

An enduring teenybopper tale

Teenybopper bands are not meant to last, but a certain few have managed to carry on well past their prime of good looks and catchy musical hooks. Just months ago, 1980s pop darlings Duran Duran emphatically proved the enduring appeal of their hits, which dominated international pop charts during their heyday, with a sold-out performance in Athens. Both older and new fans turned up for the British act’s greatest-hits set. Now comes the turn of another pop sensation of that era, the Norwegian group a-ha, who play their first-ever Greek show in Athens this Thursday. It’s been well over a decade since the Norwegian pop act hit its peak. But, surprisingly, considering the limited shelf lives of most pop groups, a-ha have carried on. The trio has just released a new album, «Analogue,» the eighth since 1985’s chart-topping debut «Hunting High and Low,» whose series of hit singles elevated the Scandinavians to superstar status worldwide. Ensuing efforts over the next few years failed to repeat the debut’s phenomenal success, and, by 1992’s «Memorial Beach,» a quality effort that failed to appeal to the masses, it seemed the band had reached the end of its lifeline. The album heralded much-needed fresh material in the act’s songwriting, but the outing went by unnoticed. The indifference prompted co-founding member Magne Furuholmen to retreat to the art world, while Pal Waaktaar, the act’s other co-founder, released a new album with another band, Savoy. For most of the 1990s, it looked like a-ha were either in hiatus or no longer a group, but they resurfaced with «Lifelines» three years ago, a moderately received effort that reflected the band’s desire to carry on and explore. It was followed by a live album, «How Can I Sleep With Your Voice in My Head,» a year later, which preceded a-ha’s latest effort, «Analogue.» Partially explaining the Norwegian pop trio’s ongoing insistence despite the waning sales, a-ha, like so many other unknowns trying to get their break, needed to persevere through an arduous embryonic period before their early hits suddenly invaded radio and TV stations around the world. Co-founders Furuholmen and Waaktaar, with the addition of Morten Harket, left their native Oslo in 1982 and relocated to a London flat, hoping to make their way in that key music market. A little over a year later, the trio had achieved part of that goal by signing a deal with the major label WEA. It took three releases to make «Take On Me» a hit for the band. The track eventually made it to No. 2 on the British singles charts in November 1985. More hits followed in various parts of the world to help establish a-ha’s debut synth-pop album, «Hunting High and Low,» as a major seller. The press was quick to dismiss the act as a pretty-boy-band sensation, but a-ha responded with a far more mature album a year later, «Scoundrel Days.» Interestingly, despite the act’s flagging commercial appeal since its sensational start, it has managed to maintain its major-label contract. Thursday, 9 p.m., Peace and Friendship Stadium; advance tickets, 30 euros, 35 euros.