Magne Furuholmen, the keyboardist and co-songwriter for Norwegian synthpop band A-ha, has responded to a recent re-election ad from President Donald Trump that visually borrows from the group’s classic video for “Take on Me.”
“You write a song in your youth and you don’t write for a particular group of people one way or another; you write it for everyone. But then stuff like this happens,” Furuholmen tells Rolling Stone.
The video for “Take on Me,” released in 1985 and directed by renowned British videographer Steve Barron, became famous for its landmark use of rotoscoping, a technique of tracing live-action footage frame-by-frame with pencil drawings to form animation. MTV quickly latched onto the clip’s unique visuals and put it in heavy rotation, skyrocketing A-ha into international fame and turning “Take on Me” into one of the most iconic videos from the MTV era.
While “Take on Me” certainly isn’t the only piece of visual art, let alone the only music video, to use rotoscoping, its style is so recognizable that when Trump posted his campaign ad to Twitter on Monday night, Twitter users immediately evoked A-ha’s clip.
The musician says he received no warning from Trump’s team about the ad and, that, because of the time difference in Norway, he awoke to find the clip already well into the process of going viral online. When asked what he thinks of Trump borrowing the rotoscope look from the A-ha video, Furuholmen says, “Even blind pigs can find truffles.”
“You want to be careful about deciding who’s allowed to do what with what you put out in the world. …We make our music for everybody. We didn’t intend to make our music part of a divisive campaign and, all things equal, would have preferred it not to have been,” he says, adding that a protest song he released last month, “This Is Now America,” was in direct response to the Trump administration.
“We are Norwegian-born, but we have friends all over the world and are concerned about what the world’s coming to,” he says. “In many respects, our heart bleeds for the America we believed in growing up. But when you get dragged into things like this, you have to lie back and laugh.”