Q is for Quirky: ABBA

The New Yorker’s 2014 article The Anatomy of an Earworm used Waterloo by ABBA as its example.

ABBA(I told you early on there were two letters for which I could not find a family band; this was one.)

When I first started blogging, I came across a blogger named Greg Burgas, who used to say, quite often, “ABBA rules!” That, he opined, was The Name of the Game [LISTEN] (#12 in 1978).

You mean that Swedish quartet comprised of that married couple Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus, and that other married couple, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, whose first initials spelled out their name? Yeah, that one.

He’d probably proclaimed, Knowing Me, Knowing You [LISTEN] (#14 in 1977), you ought to agree.

I used to refer to them as a “guilty pleasure,” though I admitted to liking Dancing Queen [LISTEN] (#1 in 1977). But as I think about a group that was one of the most successful of all time, all across the globe, which generated countless tribute bands – here’s one which came to my city recently – and after their 1982 breakup, and their marital breakups just before that, became MORE famous, then I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do [LISTEN] have to think that Mr. Burgas was totally right (#15 in 1976), though less successful in the US than elsewhere.

Though they faded from view somewhat for a time – SOS [LISTEN] (#15 in 1975):

In 1999, ABBA’s music was adapted into the successful musical Mamma Mia! that toured worldwide. A film of the same name, released in 2008, became the highest-grossing film in the United Kingdom that year.

I suppose we ought to listen to Mamma Mia [LISTEN] (#32 in 1976). Hey, are the songs from Mamma Mia! considered show tunes?

“The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 15 March 2010.” The Winner Takes All [LISTEN] (#8 in 1981).

The group was in the news this year when it was revealed that they wore those garish clothes for tax purposes: “The band, whose spangly flares, catsuits and platform heels were considered naff even in the 1970s, exploited a Swedish law which meant clothes were tax deductible if their owners could prove they were not used for daily wear.” Ah, time for Money, Money, Money [LISTEN] (#56 in 1977).

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of their first hit “Waterloo.”
Agnetha hinted last November that ABBA could re-form.

She told German newspaper Welt Am Sonntag that she, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson are considering reforming in 2014… “Of course it’s something we’re thinking about,” she said. “There seem to be plans to do something to mark this anniversary in some way. I can’t say at this point what will come of them.” Agnetha is generally seen as the shy one who doesn’t want to perform anymore but in May 2013, she released a brand new album and has since been out there promoting it. But will the other three want to come out and play?

(Wish I had heard Wilco perform Waterloo last year.)

The New Yorker had an article this year, The Anatomy of an Earworm, you know, a song that gets stuck in your head. Guess what song is used as an example? The same song for which ABBA was “honored at the 50th-anniversary celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005 when their hit ‘Waterloo’ was chosen as the best song in the competition’s history.”

I better end with Fernando [LISTEN], (#13 in 1976).

OK, OK, here’s the song that started it all, Waterloo [LISTEN] (#6 in 1974).

ABC Wednesday – Round 14

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

29 thoughts on “Q is for Quirky: ABBA”

  1. Great post, although I thought you’d do Queen! Different era. I actually like both – or rather a bit of both. Although, looking at your post I just realized your doing family bands. How awesome!! Nice challenge too.

    Anyway, I’m the one who’s rambling… Have a great week and thanks for these great links.

  2. I have been known to humiliate my daughters by turning the sound up in the car and singing along! “Dancing Queen” is my favourite, although I also love “Fernando,” “I Do I Do I Do,” “Waterloo,” and … well ALL of them! lol

    abcw team

  3. Okay, now I have these songs going around forever in my brain!
    Thanks a lot Roger…..
    I did enjoy seeing Mama Mia on Broadway though.
    Happy but incessant songs in my head.

  4. Never acquired a liking for Abba tunes, alas the songs are now playing in my head – thanks Roger, I’ll be hearing them all afternoon now!! No worries, it could be worse 🙂

  5. Roger, both Lex and I have been fans of ABBA since they first sashayed their unfortunately tight spandex suits to America.

    I don’t think any of those songs are “show tunes.” That honor is only given to songs written for actual Broadway shows. But Mamma Mia! the movie, man, Meryl Streep sang her little heart out. Makes me wish she had done Evita onscreen instead of that doofus, Madonna.

    I love every one of their songs, and when certain songs come up in a mix, especially Waterloo, Mamma Mia, and of course Dancing Queen, I am on my feet!

    Didn’t know they broke out through Eurovision. Wish they would put those on Netflix, because some of the performances are amazing, while others are so campy they’re a lot of fun. All about the staging, darling.

    Sorry for another absence, but I’ll read your “depression” post next…!

  6. Mama Mia has been my favorite of this album since the movie came out! Thanks for the chance to hear it again. 🙂

  7. Abba is most definitely one of my all time favorite bands too. Thanks for taking me through memory lane as you recalled the titles of their hits. Blessings!

  8. I do unironically love ABBA. “Money, Money, Money” always sounds to me like the songs Benny and Bjorn later wrote for their Chess musical. And “The Winner Takes It All” almost brings me to tears on occasion; I don’t care for the Mamma Mia! movie, but Meryl Streep really did something special with that song for me with her emotional performance.

    Lots of great stuff, although my favorite ABBA song–“Thank You for the Music”–is not here. Although, that might be really cheesy even for an ABBA song, I admit…

  9. Abba rule in the sing-along stakes. Ask a group of people which is their favourite Abba song and there are always so many different answers. My own favourite is Gimme Gimme, A man after midnight so just a mention of Abba can put it in my head. Yes you’ve done that.

  10. Abba is one of my favorite groups, don’t think there is a song of theirs I don’t like.

  11. I haven’t quite worn out my Waterloo LP, but I’m working on it. (Non-single favorite: “Gonna Sing You My Lovesong,” buried on track 10, with a weird beat and a vocal that almost makes me cry.)

  12. For some reason I looked up Abba in Wikipedia and discovered that Anni-Frid Lyngstad divorced Benny Andersson in 1981! She then married a guy named Prince Heinrich Ruzzo Reuss, Count of Plauen, “who was a German Prince of the former sovereign House of Reuss.” This turned her into Princess Anni-Frid Synni Reuss, Countess of Plauen. But her princely husband died in 1999. How about that. So maybe a reunion is possible.

  13. Interesting post Roger.
    I loved Abba.
    When they recorded The Winner Takes it All, I had a feeling they were about to disband, shame but nearly all good things must come to an end! I never quite recovered from the Beatles parting, then Abba, dear dear!
    To say nothing of The Beach Boys.

    Dancing Queen certainly has to be ‘up amongst the best’!
    Best Wishes,

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