By 1985 the medium was established enough that it took a unique angle to achieve music video stardom. Enter a-Ha, a synth-pop group that caught a late ride on the dying New Wave thanks to the video for “Take On Me,” in which lead singer Morten Harket was transformed using a decades-old technology called Rotoscoping. The creators of the “Take On Me” video painted portions or sometimes the entirety of individual frames to create the effect of a dashingly handsome comic-book motorcycle racer (Harket) romancing a pretty girl from the real world, fighting off a gang of angry pursuers in a pipe-wrench fight before bursting out of the comic-book world as a dashingly handsome real boy.
The wildly popular video was an esthetic marvel at the moment of its unveiling, and it propelled a-Ha not only to the top spot on the pop charts, but to a still-unbeaten record of eight wins at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards. Predictably enough, the F/X gimmick that seemed so fresh in “Take On Me” soon became something of a cliché, showing up in ads for everything from minivans to maxi-pads. As for a-Ha, they may be thought of by many Americans as one-hit wonders—or two-hit wonders for those who remember “The Sun Always Shines On T.V.”—but internationally they have enjoyed a tremendously successful recording career without any further help from MTV.
– History.com Staff