Morten Harket (born 14 September 1959) is a Norwegian vocalist and musician, best known as the lead singer of the synthpop/rock band A-ha, which released ten studio albums and topped the charts internationally after their breakthrough hit "Take On Me" in 1985. A-ha disbanded in 2010 after they played their last gig in Oslo. In 2015, after each member pursued his own artistic path, A-ha reunited to produce a new album, Cast In Steel, and perform a world tour, kicking off at Rock in Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 27 September 2015. Harket has also released six solo albums. Before joining A-ha in 1982, Harket had appeared on the Oslo club scene as the singer for blues outfit Souldier Blue.
Harket performing in 2013
|Born||14 September 1959|
The son of Reidar, a chief physician at a hospital, and Henny, an economics teacher and brother to Gunvald, Håkon, Ingunn and Kjetil, Morten grew up in Asker in southern Norway. His early musical influences included Uriah Heep, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Johnny Cash, Simon and Garfunkel, David Bowie, and James Brown. Morten's father had contemplated becoming a classical pianist; Morten also took piano lessons for a while but lacked the discipline to practice. At the age of four he started writing music and playing piano.
The trio, composed of lead vocalist Harket, guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy (Pål Waaktaar until his marriage in 1994), and keyboardist Magne Furuholmen, formed on 14 September 1982, and left Norway for London in order to make a career in the music business. They chose the studio of musician, producer, and soon-to-be-manager, John Ratcliff, because it had a Space Invaders machine. Ratcliff introduced the band to his manager, Terry Slater, and, after a few meetings, A-ha had two managers. Slater and Ratcliff together formed T.J. Management. Ratcliff dealt with all the technical and musical aspects; Slater was the international business manager and liaison to Warner Brothers' head office. The band says the name A-ha comes from a title Paul contemplated giving to a song; he was dithering between the title "A-ha" and "A-hem". Morten was looking through Paul's notebook, and came across the name, which he liked, and immediately decided that was the right name.
In 1984, A-ha released their first single, "Take On Me", which became a hit only on the third attempt in 1985, after it had been re-recorded and accompanied by a music video directed by Steve Barron. The single's international success helped A-ha's debut album Hunting High and Low to sell over 10 million copies worldwide. Their second studio album was Scoundrel Days, followed by Stay on These Roads and East of the Sun, West of the Moon. The band then issued the commercially disappointing Memorial Beach, after which the band went on hiatus.
Harket re-joined his colleagues in A-ha in 1998 to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize concert. Since 1998, A-ha has released four studio albums and several compilations. Their eighth studio album Analogue was released in 2005, and became a big hit worldwide, achieving Platinum certification in the UK. The band's last studio album before their split, Foot of the Mountain, was released in the spring of 2009.
Harket held a note for 20.2 seconds in A-ha's 2000 song "Summer Moved On", believed to be the longest note in UK chart history. The note held exceeds the chest voice note in Bill Withers' famous song Lovely Day by 2.2 seconds.
In October 2009, A-ha announced that they would disband after a farewell tour in 2010. Tickets for A-ha's final concert at the Oslo Spektrum on 4 December 2010 sold out within 2 hours.
On 27 September 2015, A-ha reunited for a huge crowd assembled at Rock in Rio 2015 festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which led to a reunion tour and the Cast in Steel album.
In June 2017 the band performed for MTV Unplugged in their homeland. The performance was released as a live album that September, and the acoustic version of "Take On Me" was made part of the soundtrack of the Hollywood movie Deadpool 2.
As a band memberEdit
Paul Waaktaar-Savoy describes Harket as being "totally different from me." He recalls the band's first visit to London together, during which Harket burned all his clothes and re-fashioned his wardrobe. "He has given me self-confidence, encourages me to talk to people, not to be afraid and to use the abilities I have. Morten is actually the only one in Norway who had as much ambition as I did. I guess we both have big egos. In a way, we're each sitting in our own little world, while Mags is more down to earth. Mags often has to mediate between Morten and me... It's good that we're so different and still respect each other. The tension between us is creative."
Magne Furuholmen describes Harket as "together". Furuholmen says Harket "believes strongly in everything he does. This goes for the band too, and it rubs off on us. He has the courage of his own convictions and cannot be shaken. He's an expert at always getting the last word, whether he's right or not. Morten is very loyal and he's fair when it comes to giving people a chance, letting them show who they are and what they're worth before judging them."
Order of St. OlavEdit
The three members of a-ha, Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, were appointed Knights of the 1st Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav for their contribution to Norwegian music. The Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav is granted as a reward for distinguished services to their country and humankind. The official ceremony took place on 6 November 2012.
Outside of A-haEdit
Before Morten joined Pål and Magne, he was the lead singer of a soul band called "Souldier Blue". In 1993, Harket performed a cover of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Crewe/Gaudio on the Coneheads movie soundtrack in 1993. After A-ha went on a hiatus in 1994, Harket pursued a solo career, and has so far released six studio albums. Two of those albums were sung in Norwegian, but his 1995 album, Wild Seed, became more of an international success because of its English lyrics. Harket worked with Håvard Rem, a Norwegian poet, to write most of the songs. "A Kind of Christmas Card" and "Spanish Steps" were the most successful numbers. The rest were either easy listening songs, or more profound songs, such as "East Timor" and "Brodsky Tune" which had political messages in them.
Harket has collaborated in live performances and in studio recordings with several artists. Among them, Pakistan rock band Junoon on the song "Piya", Hayley Westenra on "Children First". He has also performed and worked with many other Scandinavian artists such as Bjørn Eidsvåg, Silje Nergaard, Oslo Gospel Choir, Espen Lind, Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz and Carola Häggkvist. On A-ha recordings, Morten has sung with Graham Nash, Lissie, Alison Moyet, Ian McCulloch, Ingrid Helene Håvik and Anneli Drecker.
Harket released another solo album, Letter from Egypt, on 28 May 2008 via Universal Records Germany. In 2009 Harket created and performed the main theme of A Name is a Name, a film about Macedonia by Sigurjon Einarsson. In April 2012 Harket released his new solo album, Out of My Hands in both Norway and Germany, and on 14 May in the UK.. In April 2014, Harket released his sixth album titled "Brother". He also composed a song with his cousin's son, Blade Whitehead, for an annual music night.
In addition to the numerous A-ha and solo concerts, Harket has also performed on various other shows and concerts as a solo artist and with A-ha. Some notable ones:
- Harket performed vocals on Pakistani Rock Band Junoon's single "Ocean of Love", from their 2002 album Daur-e-Junoon.
- Harket and Klaus Meine of the German band Scorpions performed a duet version of the Scorpions hit song Wind of Change at a Scorpions concert in Athens, Greece on 11 September 2013 for an MTV Unplugged album.
- Christina Aguilera and Pitbull performed the song Feel This Moment which contains sampling of A-ha's Take On Me, live at the MGM Grand during the 2013 Billboard Music Awards with a surprise appearance from Morten Harket.
- UNICEF Benefit Concert (2005) – Sang the official UNICEF song "Children First" at the H.C. Andersen jubilee in Copenhagen, Denmark, 2005. The song is a duet and was sung with Hayley Westenra.
- Eurovision Song Contest 1996 (as host of the show).
- Harket appeared at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert 1998, 2001 and 2015 with A-ha, and at the 1996 and 2007 concerts as a solo artist.
- He provided vocals to the Jan Bang single Merciful Waters which was off of the group's debut 1989 album Frozen Feelings.
Vocal range and styleEdit
Morten Harket is known for his vocal range, which some sources have claimed spans five octaves, although Harket himself said in 2009, "I've never counted, quite honestly". His voice is capable of "the greatest falsetto in the history of pop music EVER...", according to NME's Sylvia Patterson, and of an "unyielding groan" as described in Entertainment Weekly. Sound engineer Gerry Kitchingham, who worked with A-ha on "Take On Me", described Harket as "an excellent singer" with "this incredibly strong falsetto and almost choir-boyish clarity".
Harket has three children with his ex-wife Camilla Malmqvist Harket, to whom he was married between 11 February 1989 and 1998: Jakob Oscar Martinus Malmqvist Harket (b. 14 May 1989), Jonathan Henning Adler Malmquist Harket (b. 30 December 1990), and Anna Katharina Tomine Malmquist Harket (b. 14 April 1993, she uses Tomine as her first name). Harket also has a daughter, Henny, (born 2 February 2003), with then-girlfriend Anne Mette Undlien. Harket has another daughter, Karmen Poppy, (born 7 September 2008), with Inez Andersson.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Letter from Egypt||
|Out of My Hands||1||30||3||77||23||37|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"A Kind of Christmas Card"||1995||1||—||53||Wild Seed|
|"Heaven's Not For Saints (Let It Go)"||9||—||114||non-album single|
|"Tilbake Til Livet"||—||—||—||Vogts Villa|
|"Herre I Drømmen"||—||—||—|
|"Jungle of Beliefs"||1999||—||—||—||Cultures Spans the World (soundtrack)|
|"A Jester in Our Town"||—||—||—||Songs from Sophie's World - |
The Musical (soundtrack)
|"Kamilla og Sebastian"||2002||—||—||—||Kamilla og Tyven (soundtrack)|
(Earth Affair featuring Morten Harket)
|"Kamilla og Tyven" (Remix)||2005||—||—||—||Kamilla og Tyven (soundtrack)|
|"Movies"||2007||3||—||—||Letter from Egypt|
|"Darkspace (You're With Me)"||2008||5||73||—|
|"We'll Never Speak Again"||—||—||—|
|"Lightning"||2012||—||—||—||Out of My Hands|
|"Scared of Heights"||1||48||140|
|"I'm the One"||—||—||—|
|"Burn Money Burn"||—||—||—|
|"There Is a Place"||2013||—||—||—||Brother|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
- "The Story So Far... Chapter 10". Official Community of A-ha. Archived from the original on 8 October 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2011.
- "Morten Harket - early years". Biography.com. Retrieved 26 November 2014.
- "Morten Harket: Interview - Classic Pop Magazine". Classic Pop Magazine. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
- "Morten Harket: Interview". Classic Pop. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
- The Story So Far... Chapter 3. Official Community of A-ha
- Aitkenhead, Decca (16 August 2009). "A-ha: 'We were very reluctant pop stars'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
- "Longest vocal note in a hit single". Everyhit.com.
- "Band website". A-ha.com. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 4 March 2010.
- "a-ha receives prestigious award - Music Export Norway". Musicexportnorway.no.
- "Utnevnelse til St. Olavs Orden". kongehuset.no. 6 September 2012.
- "a-ha tildeles St. Olavs Orden - Music Export Norway". Musicexportnorway.no.
- "morten harket. The Official Website of a-ha". The Official Website of a-ha. Archived from the original on 12 April 2016. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
- "Morten Harket". IMDb. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
- "Solo album for Morten Harket". Side-line.com. 22 February 1999.
- "A name is name". Anameisaname.net.
- Harket, Morten (2016). My take on me. Edel.
- "Morten performs with the Scorpions in Greece. News. The Official Website of a-ha". A-ha.com. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- "'Billboard' awards put on one impressive Vegas show". Usatoday.com. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- "Pitbull + Christina Aguilera 'Feel This Moment' With A-Ha Frontman Morten Harket at 2013 Billboard Music Awards [Video]". Popcrush.com. 19 May 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- Jørstad, Atle (20 May 2013). "Harket på scenen med Aguilera og Pitbull - Hollywood - VG". Vg.no. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
- "News". HayleyWestenra.com. Archived from the original on 5 March 2006. Retrieved 13 April 2006.
- Diaz, Mario (3 April 2005). "World Premiere of UNICEF song". UNICEF.org. Retrieved 13 December 2006.
- Dent, Suzie. "Morten Harket - Side Projects". a-hadiscography.com. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
- Omdahl, Jan (2004). The Swing of Things. Oslo Press. p. 340. ISBN 82-7547-181-8.
- Keyboard Player magazine, September 2009, issue 340.
- Potton, Ed (18 July 2009). "Guest List: The pop singer Morten Harket". The Times. Retrieved 7 February 2010.
- Patterson, Sylvia (12 February 2000). "A-ha : Summer moved on". NME. UK: IPC Media. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
- Eddy, Chuck (18 January 1991). "Music Review: East of the Sun, West of the Moon". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
- Buskin, Richard (March 2011). "Classic Tracks: A-ha - Take On Me". Sound On Sound magazine. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
- Omdahl, Jan (2011). a-ha The Swing Of Things 1985-2010. Press. ISBN 978-82-7547-416-0.
- "norwegiancharts.com - Norwegian charts portal > Morten Harket". Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "Austrian charts portal > Morten Harket". Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "German Charts > Albums > Morten Harket" (in German). charts.de Media Control Charts. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- "dutchcharts.nl - Dutch charts portal > Morten Harket". Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "hitparade.ch - Swiss charts portal > Morten Harket". Hung Medien. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
- "German Charts > Singles > Morten Harket" (in German). charts.de Media Control Charts. Retrieved 13 April 2012.
- Morten Harket. Stjerne. Punktum. Archived 26 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine (Norwegian), massiv.no, June 2009
- "Wayback Machine". 3 March 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Morten Harket.|
- Fan site
- Morten's official MySpace
- Site from Universal Germany
- A-ha's official site
- English/French site dedicated to Morten Harket
| Eurovision Song Contest presenter
(with Ingvild Bryn)
Ronan Keating & Carrie Crowley