Radio Creme BruleeMorten Harket goes back to MOR Adult Contemporary on "Brother"
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Morten Harket goes back to MOR Adult Contemporary on “Brother”

3 February 2014 18 Comments
This blog belongs to Radio Creme Brulee – an internet music radio station that broadcasts globally.

MortenHarket2The surprise element of last year’s Billboard Music Awards was the appearance of Norwegian pop/rock trio a-ha‘s magnetic frontman Morten Harket on stage alongside Cuban rapper Pitbull and Christina Aguilera to perform a bit of a-ha’s timeless hit single “Take On Me”.  The appearance undoubtedly revived memories in America of a band that had practically vanished from the American radio airwaves many years ago. In an interview at the award show, Morten Harket claimed to be working on the best material he has ever worked on. 10 years ago, that would not have been a source of excitement since his solo ventures were stylistically within the realms of Adult Contemporary fare – pleasant but far from earthshattering.  This time around, it actually was a source of excitement – solely because of his much needed stylistic reinvention as a solo star on his last album “Out Of My Hands” (released in the summer of 2012). This album saw Morten working with co-writers and producers to deliver a pure pop album that had some great up-tempo moments including a revamped and reinvented cover version of “Scared Of Heights” (a folksy pop song originally performed by hit songwriter Espen Lind). The album had an electronic flavor that blended well with Morten Harket’s stellar vocals. Some might even say that there were songs on this album that could have made great a-ha tracks. The question remains as to whether excitement was justified. Sadly, the answer is “not really”.

It appears that with “Brother”, Morten Harket has returned to his MOR adult contemporary flavor that has dominated almost all of his solo material. “Brother” does not build on any of the elements that made “Out Of My Hands” a great album. The song opens with an electric guitar intro which slowly flows into the first verse. On this song, Morten strays away from his trademark “high notes” and instead sings in a lower register (which he only moves away from on the song’s chorus). The song’s relatively unremarkable lyrics are aimed at a special person that Morten refers to as his “Brother”. Morten expresses remorse for the misunderstanding that caused the rift between him and this person.  The song ends with an electric guitar outro that is similar to the track’s introduction.

An album’s lead single and follow-up single are intended to be a representative sneak preview of the album they are featured on. They give listeners a sense of the flavor of music that can be expected on an album. We believe Morten Harket is without a doubt one of the greatest male vocalists in the music industry and the last thing we want to see is him fade from the limelight but we simply do not see “Brother” igniting interest outside his core fanbase (which includes us folks here at Radio Crème Brulee). We can only hope that the rest of his album sounds very different from its first two singles that unfortunately are quite lackluster. Here is a full-length video clip of “Brother” below:

STAR RATING: 3 STARS (out of 5)

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18 Responses to "Morten Harket goes back to MOR Adult Contemporary on “Brother”"

  1. a talented man and a great conqueror of hearts!!!!

  2. @евгения: He sure is. We just hope the rest of his album is better than its sneak previews.

  3. Louise says:

    Morten Harket has allready experienced great success and I’m not so sure that that is his main goal nowadays. It’s telling that Harket will play at many Norwegian summer festivals. He wants to do something that speaks to him and meet the audience. He is 55 this year and it is natural,and more becoming to turn the career from pure pop to MOR.The first single “Brother” is already a great success in Norway. I think it is a song that really speaks to us serious minded Scandinavians. (The song “There is a place” will not be on the album,it was special written for the Night of the proms tour with symphonic orchestra)

  4. @Louise: I guess our perspective is built almost entirely on radio play. That might explain our take on the new single. With “Out Of My Hands”, we believed Morten Harket had created something very quintessentially pop and radio-friendly despite being in his 50s. It was a sound that really worked for him. We were just hoping he would explore more of that as opposed to going back to a sound that he had beaten to death on his first solo stint. But that being said, we will always think of him as an amazing vocalist. I saw him as part of a-ha for the first and last time in New York in May 2010. It was one of the most amazing nights ever. Hearing him sing “Summer Moved On” was a bucket-list item for me that I could proudly scratch off with an immense sense of satisfaction. Thank you for the comment. Just out of curiosity, how did you discover our radio station?

  5. Debbie Martinez says:

    Morten Harket is one of the bests vocalists of my generation for sure. There are some great songs on this new album! End of the Line is great. Just wish he could get more exposure in the US. We are missing out over here! Get him on the radio in the states!

  6. @Debbie Martinez: Now we’re intrigued. I haven’t heard “End Of The Line” yet. Will definitely check it out right away. Not sure how you discovered us but the music of a-ha and the material from Morten Harket’s “Out of my hands” is played quite regularly on our station. Thanks once again for the comment.

  7. mark webster says:

    Are you kidding me, brother is a great track and the album previews show its going to be morten’s best album yet, im glad he is going away from the pop sound, check out his performance at the nrk studio, 6 songs live. 4 from the new album.

  8. @Mark: Thank you for the comment. I will definitely check out the NRK studio performance. The adult contemporary sound of Morten Harket never really excited us. Which is why we were thrilled whenever a-ha got back together since their sonic template was the one in which he shined. “Out Of My Hands” was the first time we saw him do something amazing on his own. We were hoping he would build on that as opposed to going back to safe territory like he does on “Brother”.

  9. Mark webster says:

    Out of my hands was the safe approach , I have now heard the new album in full, much more rockier tunes in there, it’s not pop or anything sounding like out of my hands, one Norwegian news paper review has given it 5 out of 6. Highlights for me so far are, do you remember me? Whispering heart, end of the line, these are the more up tempo songs. If you are looking for the nrk live gig you can find it on tubule or on Morten’s face book page. Enjoy !!!

  10. Louise says:

    Hello again! I have now been listening to the album “Brother” for a while and I like it a lot. It has really strong melodies and the arrangements (and voice!) are rich and varied. It’s way better and more lasting than Out of my Hands. I can se that the album is not suited for the creme bulee format but “Oh what a night and “Whispering heart” could be in your vein I think. I think that an aim with the album was to play it live with musicians. Harket doesn’t want to do the karaoke type of shows like some other artists from the 80’s do.

    It’s interesting with the differences between Anglosaxan views of pop and the Scandinavian (I’m Swedish). The sort of adult, organic, melodic pop/softrock Harket and his contemporary peers are doing is very succesful and gets massive radioplay at the great stations. We like that type of music. It doesen’t have to be boring and fossilised. Don’t forget that a-ha made a lot of organic music, they where never primarily a synth pop band.

    Otherwise is pop considered a young mans game and we have a great flow of new emerging artists. I can’t think of any other artist here over 45 doing something like Out of my Hands. While in UK and US you have Kim Wilde, Madonna, Kylie Minouge etc (even Erasure!!!) still touring and making airwaves. I won’t say what I think of Madonnas and Minogues latest output, but I’ll take Harket’s adault MOR any time.☺ .

  11. @Mark Webster: Thanks so much Mark. I will check out the three tracks you recommended tonight. If any of them meet our format, I will DEFINITELY add them to our high-rotation playlist. I mean, we love Morten Harket so he’s not a “hard sell” by any stretch for us. My sincere apologies for the delayed acknowledgment of your comment.

  12. Mark webster says:

    Well guys , did you check out the live songs?

  13. @Mark: I checked out the studio versions of the songs. Are the live versions dramatically different? If they are, I will check them out. In some cases, the live versions are superior to the studio versions of the songs. I have definitely felt that with a-ha’s “The Bandstand”.

  14. Clara Dodson says:

    Was able to experience the performance of Mr. Harket ‘s Brother Album in person October 2014 when I met several of my friends for 1st time in Oslo, Norway. To be honest I didn’t care much for brother until I experienced the intimate performance of Mr. Harket at the Sentrum Scene. It is now one of my favorites . I agree with Debbie Martinez who has become a fantastic friend, we need the USA to play more of Mr. Harke music but don’t know how to get it done.

  15. Wayne says:

    I tend to disagree, I am from the US and this should be all over US radio. Sadly I’m sure it won’t be. A fantastic album, one of the best of the year. The limited vinyl was remastered for vinyl and sounds amazing. 5 stars.

  16. @Clara: My sincere apologies for not having acknowledged your message earlier. The thing about hearing Morten’s material from Brother in a live setting and how it really comes to life there is something I’ve heard from a bunch of people. I guess my perspective on it is purely from a studio version view of his music from that album.

  17. @Wayne: Now that a-ha has reunited, we are hoping that the new single will be on our station pretty soon. Just out of curiosity, how did you discover our radio station?

  18. Francesca says:

    I think Brother is Morten’s best album – he said it was possibly his best work, and I agree.
    It is true that his voice plays well with the more pop/synth music of Out of my hands, and that probably works better for your station, but he has a vocal range that would be a shame not to use – I just love the deep end of his voice. And to be honest, after years and years of falsetto and high-picth voice, I so welcome the deep and warm tones of the lower ends of his voice. A bit like in Wild seed, but even better melodies. I love the more rockier tunes in Brother.
    And I love the message throughout the entire album.
    I have been listening to it almost exclusively and non-stop for more than a year now, and none of his previous albums, nor any of a-ha albums, had the same effect. I think Brother is very emotional and Morten allowed himself to be the true himself, writing and playing like the great artist that he is.

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