Take on This!
—-Gotta Love Wogan, Part 2—-
(you can watch the interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plRZyVRtCEs )
Did you enjoy the lip-synced performance of Cry Wolf? I never understood why, on shows like this, they never let artists actually sing. Maybe it’s because the backing band provided by the studio doesn’t really know the song, maybe they’re worried the singer won’t be in tune, or perhaps they want the song to sound “perfect”, and the album version is what they have in their minds. I’ve always been bummed by this fact. Oh well, it was still fun watching them “perform.”
Hooray for Terry Wogan! This guy must really like our Norwegian lads. We’ve fast-forwarded to December 1986 and the guys have been deep in the middle of their whirlwind world tour for months. It’s a wonder they don’t look more exhausted.
After the little faux pas of Terry pronouncing Pal’s name wrong, I’d like to say they get off to a good start—until Magne begins mocking his own accent, and his friend’s name. I love it that the boys always seem to have a good time having a go at themselves for even having accents. Because, let’s face it, sometimes they were virtually non-existent.
Terry jumps right in and apologizes for whatever had been said about Norway in the past (anyone actually remember seeing this show when it aired that could enlighten us?). Morten shows him up right away by making him aware that the audience gave it away by their reactions—and that they didn’t actually hear Wogan say anything. Once again, Mr. Harket zings Mr. Wogan right off the bat.
Game on, it should seem.
I’m assuming it had something to do with Eurovision or the fact that Norway had actually produced a pop group in general. Now, I’m not European and I was eight years old when this interview aired anyway, but I get the sense that not only is Eurovision kind of silly, but that Norway had never, EVER, done well there. And, of course, Mags just nails Norway’s coffin shut by adding that, in fact, they are not at the forefront of pop music. Oh well, we all know there are great things to come out of Norway…we don’t need the rest of the world to tell us that.
Once again, in true Wogan form, he tries to get a somewhat serious question in, in asking the lads if they’re looked upon as heroes in Norway. And—once again—Morten gives a very “Morten” response. These two are so perfectly matched, it’s a shame they didn’t do more sit-downs.
“We haven’t done anything heroic yet.”
That’s Morten, alright.
So, Terry changes the parameters of his query. He places their so-called heroism in a pop music context, and the boys then agree—to an extent. Mags talks to the fact that the people there just aren’t used to that sort of attention being brought on their countrymen and so it becomes kind of a neat thing for Norwegians. But Morten is quick to point out that there’s been so much written about them since their debut that it’s possible the Norwegian people are getting a little tired of hearing everything about A-ha.
I think we can all agree, even now, that we would never grow tired of hearing about A-ha. Just sayin’.
Mags tries to give his fellow Norwegians a sort of “out”, if you will, by making the assumption that they might have been a little upset at the boys for going to England and not staying in their own country…but Wogan snaps him right out of that mindset by pointing out that the boys didn’t make an impact the first time they graced English shores.
Terry spins his words a little to point out that it was Pal and Mags who came first and didn’t have much to show for their efforts as a duo, and needed to come back as a trio before everything started to happen.
The audience—and Morten—seem to find this quite funny, and he wastes no time in getting a little jab in at his mates’ expense. Once again, Terry Wogan and Morten Harket are like two giant binary stars, feeding off one another’s energy.
But Morten “rights the wrong” so to speak, by making sure Terry understands that it wasn’t just about luck or them being a trio finally, it was timing. The world is all about timing. You can be the greatest musical act in the world, but if the timing and environment isn’t right, then it’s possible nothing will come of your hard work. And for A-ha—everything fell into place after years of toiling away at their art.
The subject gets changed to their ongoing tour, already in its eighth month, and Mags admits that they’re tired. I would think “exhausted” would be a more apt response. Can you imagine jet-setting around the world like that? The jet lag alone would be enough to do me in, but then to have to perform concerts on top of it? I’m in awe of not only the boys, but any artist that does the same. That’s some crazy stuff right there.
In talking about their shows, I loved how Mags easily admitted that their first concert was probably horrible and rushed, and it seems like they genuinely felt bad that their first shows probably didn’t go as smooth as they would’ve liked. Although I’ll admit that I would jump at the chance at a ride in a time machine to go back and see those early shows. They know they’ve improved since then—or so you’d think. In another in a long line of “very Morten answers”, he admits that they’ve been on tour so long that they’re more than likely getting worse again.
Well, at least he’s honest.
Terry asks them about being “teenybopper idols” and Morten jabs him for “insulting” them. The girls scream (just look at the boys’ faces—they love it) and Morten remarks that they’re there for Terry. And of course, Terry jabs back that the girls will remain long after A-ha is gone because they’ve locked the doors.
Have I mentioned before just how much I love Terry Wogan?
Like lightning, Terry sails into another “heavy” line of questioning, but it ends up having one of the greatest “Morten” responses of all time.
“Would it be bad for your image if one of you got married? Would you mind?”
Wait…here it comes…
“Would we mind?”
In all the interviews over all the years, and even though I’ve seen this piece more times than I’d care to admit, I still absolutely howl at his retort. Pure Morten at its finest.
All silliness aside, he does bring up a valid point—would the dynamic change if one or more were to get married? Would their fame suffer? Would their music change? Would they tour as much? Would their fan base look at them differently?
That last one is more important that you might realize—and has the potential to have intense ramifications.
There’s a great example of just this sort of thing from the 1960’s. John Lennon had to secretly marry his girlfriend and they raised their son in secrecy for fear of fan backlash. The Beatles’ fans were so exuberant that they actually feared for their safety. I can’t even begin to imagine having to live like that—for the entertainer or their families. Can you put yourself in Cynthia Lennon’s place? Knowing that there are fans of your significant other out there who hate you so much, even though they have never met you personally, just because you’re married to their favorite pop star? It boggles my mind.
I’m glad to see that the lads seemed to take it with a grain of salt. They know it wouldn’t be like that for them. The band isn’t about who they’re married to or how many children they have. It’s about the music, and private lives are just what they say they are—private.
And just when you thought the atmosphere was getting a little heavy, our dear Morten lightens it again by asking Terry what it’s like to be married. Wogan could have used this instance to jab at his own marriage or scare the boys with a far-out story about matrimony, but instead he shows his true colors as one of the funniest men I’ve ever watched on a talk show.
“I’ve never been a teenybopper idol.”
A short answer that, in another context, wouldn’t be funny. Wogan doesn’t need a lot to convey his humor. He knows that his marriage and the environment in which it resides is nothing like what it would be for our three favorite Norwegians.
Even though Mags tries to convince him otherwise, Terry is wise and has another great comeback. He’s quick to point out that they are two very different entities—he and A-ha—and have to very different arenas of what people call “fame” in which they dwell.
An interesting line of questions and answers to be sure—and not a very good way to end a program segment. Thankfully, Magne takes care of that with one of the funniest observances I’ve ever heard.
When he remarks that he looks different in person than he does on TV—after Morten disagrees—Mags shows us that he’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind, even if it’s absolutely silly.
“Your head is perfectly shaped.”
It’s definitely not the first thing that would come to my own mind as what to say to a legendary television host, but nonetheless is absolutely hilarious. And in true form, Wogan makes the absolute best comeback of all time.
“Well, I could only say that your appearances have been, in real life, a slight disappointment to me.”
And there you have it.
Well played, Terry. Well played.