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a-ha – The living daylights

Hundred thousand changes, everything's the same
I've been waiting long for one of us to say
Save the darkness, let it never fade away
Oh, the living daylights
#aha #TheLivingDaylights

We have often said how the link between cinema and songs and also videos, in the central part of the 80s, was an unstoppable, generally virtuous circle. The best artists were called for the soundtracks of the best films, so that they could sell the whole song and film product to both music fans and movie enthusiasts. And this happened naturally for musical films, for example Flashdance… What a feeling by Irene Cara, or Footloose by Kenny Loggins. the interesting thing, however, is that it also happened for love or action films: the success of the film The Party is forever united with the success of Reality by Richard Sanderson, and the same happened for Top Gun and Take My Breath Away by Berlin .

Talking about action films and great soundtracks, however, in the 80s we must certainly talk about the 007 saga, which at that historic moment had to deal with the problem of replacing the great Roger Moore in the leading role. After a series of events related to the simultaneous release of two films with the two historical actors of James Bond, namely Moore and the great Sean Connery, in 1987 the time came for a change.

In those years the production of 007 used to think big, even if the audience results did not always reward the efforts. Among the various methods to give visibility and popularity to films, as we said, it became common to entrust the main piece of the soundtrack, and its video, to the most famous artist or group in the pop world at that time, possibly with a song had the same title in English as the film. And indeed for an artist or a band it was a bit of a consecration, to be asked to compose the main song for the soundtrack of the new James Bond film, and this honor in 1987 fell to a-ha, who received the call after the worldwide success of Take on Me and their album Hunting High and Low.

The production followed all the rules: the song had the same title as the film, The Living Daylights, and the video would include images of the new protagonist of the saga, Welsh actor Timothy Dalton. Indeed Bond and Spectre (or rather, the producers of the various 007 films) were quite strict on the rules of the videos, so in the end the videos of these songs often ended up looking alike.

a-ha (which, I remember, should always be written in lower case, with a dash, and possibly with the a in italic) weren’t really thrilled about having to collaborate with the production, especially with the main songwriter, composer John Barry, who was not only the head of the project, but was also a kind of untouchable sacred monster, given his great experience in the soundtracks of 007 but also of many other films. And in fact, if he was able to win five Academy Awards for his soundtracks, his merits must also be recognized.

In short, a-ha and Barry actually collaborated remotely, and the few times they met they didn’t like each other. In particular, Morten Harket recalled that the first meeting was terrible. In addition to making misogynistic jokes, Barry began disparaging the performers of the previous film’s soundtrack, saying that they had made many mistakes and that he no longer wanted to work with them, but surely a-ha would have been different.

Perhaps he did this to try to make himself nice or helpful towards the Norwegian group, but in fact he obtained the opposite result. Yes, because a-ha knew very well that group that had made many mistakes in the previous film, and indeed had taken that group a bit as a model.

Of course, because the film Barry was referring to was 007: A View to a Kill, and the soundtrack was obviously A View to a Kill by Duran Duran! And for a-ha, that character they had just met who began to discredit Duran Duran was immediately unbearable, and it wasn’t easy to get to the conclusion of the project: the only way was to work remotely, seeing each other as little as possible.

In the end, however, not only did a-ha record their song, but they had to acknowledge that Barry managed to add some arrangements and effects that really made The Living Daylights a James Bond movie song, even if the video was very similar to the video of A View to a Kill, of course with the due differences between Morten Harket and Simon Le Bon.

Ironically, it must be said that both films were certainly not among the greatest successes of the series, and their earnings were quite far from the wishes of the production. The Living Daylights earned a little more, but only because tickets were more expensive than two years earlier, because it actually sold fewer tickets overall. However, we end up with two great songs, brought to the big and small screens by two of the greatest groups of the 80s.

a-ha on Wikipedia

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