Happy 30th: a-ha, SCOUNDREL DAYS
30 years ago today, a-ha released their sophomore album, but if you’ve spent the last three decades seeing it as a slump, then you clearly haven’t checked out how SCOUNDREL DAYS did around the world.
Co-produced by Alan Tarney and a-ha members Pal Waaktaar and Magne Furuholmen, SCOUNDREL DAYS was always destined to be heavily scrutinized by the music press, given the tremendous success of a-ha’s debut album, HUNTING HIGH AND LOW. Perhaps predictably, the album went to the top of the charts in the band’s native Norway, but its success was in no way limited to the Land of the Midnight Sun: it hit #2 in the UK, #4 in Belgium, Germany, and New Zealand, and made it into the top 10 of the Austrian, Dutch, French, Japanese, and Swiss charts. Unfortunately, US record buyers proved far more fickle, and the album made it no farther than #74 on the Billboard 200.
Americans didn’t know what they were missing: four singles were released from SCOUNDREL DAYS in the UK – “I’ve Been Losing You,” “Cry Wolf,” “Maybe, Maybe,” and “Manhattan Skyline” – and while “Maybe, Maybe” seemed to slip through the cracks everywhere, the other three songs were substantial hits in Europe, with “I’ve Been Losing You” and “Cry Wolf” both entering the UK top 10, with “Manhattan Skyline” still doing quite well, earning a #13 showing.
In 2010, Furuholmen reflected on a-ha’s failure to further conquer the American charts with Rolling Stone. "We were three headstrong Norwegians saying, 'No, we don't want to record another "Take on Me," we're doing our own thing,'” he said. "We never expected to become teenage idols, so for us it was like, 'Let's move on.' But for the record company this was a successful formula, and anything we did to break with that was seen as a disease."
If SCOUNDREL DAYS was part of that disease, trust us: it’s one worth catching.