You've gotta love ABBA - no other musical group could make English sound like Esperanto. ABBA began in 1972 when Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Agnetha Faltskog decided to get together and create music that made a smiley-faced button look pensive. And there would be the origin of their name - that's right, ABBA is an acronym made from the band members' first initials. I guess it's kinda like IBM... Anyway, in 1974 the super-grouper won the Eurovision Disco Contest with "Waterloo," that upbeat little song which compares a romance to Napoleon's defeat at that historical battle. When performed for the contest, the orchestra's conductor wore a Napoleonic hat...you've just gotta love it. "Waterloo" topped charts around the world, and soon ABBA would become second only to Volvo as Sweden's biggest export.
In 1975, ABBA had another hit with the cerebral single "S.O.S.," featuring the verse "What happened to our love?/I wish I understood/It used to be so nice/ It used to be so good." The group peaked between 1975 and 1978, with seven hit singles and successful albums. In 1976 ABBA hit it big with "Dancing Queen;" not only was it performed at the King of Sweden's wedding, but it would make great runway music for a Barbie fashion show.
At their height, ABBA's narcotic sound had taken the world by storm, furthering the decline
of pop music. Come on, "The judges will decide/The likes of me abide/Spectators of the show/Always laying low" - what
does it mean? But, by 1982, both marriages (Frida and Benny, Bjorn and Agnetha) had done a Fleetwood Mac,
and the group slowly faded away. I guess they were wrong, love just isn't "A tune you hummy, hum, hum."
Take A Chance On Me
Gimme Gimme Gimme
Bang-a-Boomarang (This is the one that proclaims "Love is a tune you hummy, hum, hum!")
ABBA actually entered the Eurovision Contest in 1973 with "Ring Ring," came in second. After a massive uproar by the Swedish populace, the judges on the panel were replaced to reflect a more "popular taste." In 1974, ABBA entered again with "Waterloo" and won.
Bjorn and Benny always wanted the girls' voices to be so high as to be on the verge of cracking.
Agnetha and Frida, tired of just singing "la-la-la" to unfinshed choruses, would make up fake lyrics to their songs. At one time, it was "Money, money, money/Buy a bunny."
Nelson Mandela, imprisoned on Robben Island for ABBA's entire career, once called them his favorite group.
Bjorn and Benny would later go on to write the musical "Chess" in 1984, with its prototype for Falco's "Rock Me Amadeus" - Murray Head's rendition of "One Night In Bangkok." They are taking a chance on musical theatre again, working on a play based on the Swedish book "The Immigrants."
The cryptic song "Super Trouper" is about SPOTLIGHTS! Sitting in my stagecraft class, I stumbled across an image
of a Super Trouper Ellipsoidal Repflector Spot. Now the song makes some sense...
In 1992, England's synth-pop duo, Erasure topped the charts with their EP, ABBA-esque. The album features four fABBA cover versions of ABBA hits - "Lay All Your Love on Me," "S.O.S.," "Take a Chance on Me," and "Voulez-Vous." Their version of "Take a Chance on Me" is also available on their greatest hits album, Pop! - The First 20 Hits. But wait! There's more...While I was watching my copy of ABBA - The Movie (thanks Aimee), the hokey VH-1 host played about five seconds of Erasure's "Take a Chance on Me" video. It featured Vince Clark and Andy Bell in drag as Frida and Agnetha, reinacting the original ABBA videos (which I own). Please also note the festive big pink disco ABBA sign featured on the album cover - this poster hangs in my dorm room. It's all too fabulous...