THE SONGS OF ABBA
ABBA songs now appear to be even more popular than they were back in the 1970s and 80s, and there's no doubting that the quartet are up their as one of the greatest pop groups of all time.
A combination of catchy melodies, memorable lyrics and great production techniques have lead to 370 million albums being sold World-wide, and they continue to sell around 2 to 4 millions albums every year!
ABBA is actually an acroynyn formed from the first letter of the names of the band members'; Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anna-Frid.
The music of ABBA was used for the 2005 musical "Mamma Mia" and also the hit movie version which was released in 2008.
The Swedish band released eight studio albums; "Ring Ring" (1973), "Waterloo" (1974), "Abba" (1975), "Arrival" (1976), "The Album" (1977), "Voulez-Vous" (1979), "Super Trouper" (1980) and "The Visitors" (1981). The last five albums all reached No.1 in the UK.
ABBA also released countless compilation albums, and these regularly appear in the album charts.
Of course, then we have the singles. There were so many that you often forget about some of them. My personal favourites are "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and "The Winner Takes It All", Although, like so many people, I enjoyed ALL of their singles!
ABBA's Studio Albums
1973 Ring Ring - -
1974 Waterloo #28 #145
1975 ABBA #13 #174
1976 Arrival #1 #20
1977 ABBA: The Album #1 #14
1979 Voulez-Vous #1 #19
1980 Super Trouper #1 #17
1981 The Visitors #1 #29
Chart positions are for the UK and U.S. respectively.
Ring Ring (1973)
ABBA's debut album was only released in a limited number of countries, and wasn't released in the UK until 1992 and the U.S. in 1995. The ABBA name had not yet been created and so the original sleeve used the long-winded "Bjorn Benny & Agnetha Frida" as the title. The album reached #2 in Sweden and acheived 3 x platinum sales in Australia.
Six singles were released from the album during 1972 and 1973 and these were People Need Love, He Is Your Brother, Ring Ring, Love Isn't Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough), Nina Pretty Ballerina and Another Town, Another Train.
The band's commercial breakthrough came on 6th April 1974 when they won the Eurovision Song Contest (held at The Dome in Brighton, UK) with the song Waterloo. To this day, they remain the most successful act to have taken part in the annual contest. However, it would be another 14 months before the band achieved success with another major hit in the UK, with the follow-up single Honey Honey stalling at #133, although it was a major hit in Austria and Germany an also reached #27 in the U.S.
ABBA - the third album (1975)
Not to be confused with ABBA's fifth album, ABBA: The Album, this third studio album (the second Internationally and in the UK) was released in April 1975 and peaked at #13 in the UK, but achieved 10 x platinum sales in Australia. Singles released from the album in the UK were I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, SOS and Mamma Mia.
I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO (1975)
This was the first hit from ABBA's self-titled third studio album, which gave the band their third British hit single, reaching #38. Once again, the single's chart position was a disappointment for the band who were failing to copy the success of their Eurovision entry, Waterloo, which had topped the UK charts in 1974. The single faired better in other countries, particularly down under where it topped the charts in Australia and New Zealand. Now, if only I could remember the lyrics to the chorus.
SOS was the first song to break into the UK top ten for ABBA since their chart-topping debut Waterloo single around 14 months earlier. Indeed, this was the start of an incredibly successful run for the band, with 18 consecutive top ten hits. SOS peaked at #6 in the UK and topped the charts in numerous countries.
The track was penned by band members Benny and Bjorn alongside their manager Stig Anderson, and was recorded during the late summer of 1974. The lyrics were originally written by Stig Anderson, but were re-written by Bjorn. John Lennon once stated that this was one of his favourite pop songs.
MAMMA MIA (1975)
Mamma Mia was the last single to be lifted from ABBA's third self-titled album, and was released in September 1975.
The song knocked Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody off the top spot in the UK - spookily, this also contains the lyrical phrase Mamma Mia!
Other hits on the album were I do, I do, I do, I do, I do, I doand SOS.
Of course, proving that ABBA's music is timeless, in 2008 the Mamma Mia movie was a huge success and featured an array of stars singing the band's hit songs from the 70s and 80s, including a legendary performance by Pierce Brosnan!
The movie was set on a glorious Greek island and told the story of a bride-to-be trying to locate her real father.The movie wasn't really to my liking, but that's mainly because I was an ABBA fan back in the 70s and 80s and I much prefer to listen to the original music.
As with Chiquitita, this is another 70s ABBA video that is nothing special and mainly features shots of the band, but it's yet another powerful and emotional song, which is far more important.
Fernando was Abba's first non-album single of the 70s and was released in November 1975 to promote the band's Greatest Hits album. Lead vocals were sung by Anni-Frid Lyngstad and the song was actually written for her solo album Frida Ensam (which reached No.1 in Sweden during 1975) by Benny and Bjorn.
The track appeared on Abba's Greatest Hits album in 1976 in some countries. However, in Australia and New Zealand Fernando was included on the group's Arrival album.
DANCING QUEEN (1976)
The lead single from the Arrival album, Dancing Queen, was released in 1976 (recorded in 1975) as a single and reached No.1 in thirteen countries. This is one of the band's most well-known hit songs, and possibly their best 70s release.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY (1976)
The follow-up single to Dancing Queen managed to reach the top five in almost every county it was released in, with the exception of the U.S. where it stalled at #56. In the UK, the song peaked at #3.
I remember getting into an argument over the lyrics with one of the girls in my class at primary school. She insisted that the chorus went "Money, money, money, always sunny in the rich man's world", while I argued that the line went "Must be funny in the rich man's world". Of course, we were both correct as both lines were sung in the chorus.
Knowing Me, Knowing You (1977)
ABBA: THE ALBUM (1977)
The band's fifth studio album (the fourth in the UK) became another chart-topper. Lead single, The Name Of The Game became a major hit internationally and spent four weeks at No.1 in the UK during November 1977, with the album being released in December.
Take A Chance On Me (1978)
This is one of ABBA's more memorable 70s videos, mainly because of the outfits that Agnetha and Anna-Frid were wearing - I can't get out of my mind the disturbing images of Andy Bell and Vince Clarke dressed as the girls in the Erasure video!
Reaching #1 in the UK (#3 in the U.S.), Take A Chance On Me
was ABBA's eleventh Top 10 single in the UK and the second track to be
released from the Swedish band's fifth studio album, simply entitled ABBA: The Album. The single was the follow-up to The Name Of The Game which had also reached #1 in the UK (#12 U.S.).
The song was released at the same time as ABBA: The Movie, which I remember going to see back in the 70s, at Stratford-Upon-Avon cinema (with my Mum and my best friend from primary school) when I was about 10 years old. My friend wasn't really an ABBA fan but ended-up enjoying the movie more than I did!I do remember that the film focused on some guy struggling to get a decent live recording of the band. It was an okay sort of movie (I've seen a lot worse!) but movies featuring pop bands rarely set the World alight do they?
Released in April 1979, Voulez-Vous was the third consecutive studio album to top the album charts in the UK. The album was also a huge success internationally, and produced another four hit singles (three in the UK) which were Chiquitita, Does Your Mother Know?, Voulez-Vous and Angeleyes. The latter two tracks were released as a double-A side in the UK.
ABBA certainly won't be remembered for creating imaginative videos, and the one for Chiquitita is pure 70s cheese!
But, thankfully, the song is beautiful and this was one of ABBA's biggest hits, and was the first track to be released from the Voulez-Vous album.
The song was number one in numerous countries across the globe, but was kept off the top spot in the UK by Blondie's Heart of Glass, peaking at #2. Half of the royalties from the song went to the charity Unicef.
SUPER TROUPER (1980)
ABBA's penultimate album was released in November 1980, and, once again, topped the UK album charts. The title track from the album was released as the second single from the album and became the final No.1 single for ABBA in the UK. Super Trouper refers to the giant spot light used in stadium concerts. However, the original name for the song was "Blinka lilla stjärna"or "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in English.
THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL (1980)
The early 80s saw an explosion of brilliant music in the charts, and, in my opinion, this was one of Abba's finest moments. Sung brilliantly by Agnetha Faltskog, this is a track that oozes emotion and was released as the 1st single from the Super Trouper album on July 21, 1980.
Definitely the band's best 80s hit, at least, The Winner Takes It All made No.1 in five countries including the UK, and stayed on top for 2 months in Belgium. It also hit the top ten in many countries throughout the world. This is definitely one of those songs that can sometimes bring tears to your eyes. Listen and weep!
Here are a couple of useless facts for you;
The working title for the song was The Story Of My Life.
Samantha Fox recorded a cover of The Winner Takes It All in 2004 for a German Abba Mania Competition!
LAY ALL YOUR LOVE ON ME
The final track to be released as a single from the Super Trouper album was only available as 12 inch and became the biggest-selling 12 inch of all time in the UK, although this record has since been broken. The electro-disco track is certainly one of my favourites by the band and peaked at #7 in the UK singles chart.
ONE OF US (1981)
By the 1980's, ABBA had passed the peak of their career, and One Of Us was the last major hit song for ABBA. It was also the last Top Ten hit in the UK as the band's popularity was in decline. The song reached #3 for three weeks and was the first track to be lifted from the album The Visitors. In the US the song only reached #107, although it was released a year later than in most other countries after ABBA had disbanded.
Agnetha sings the lead vocals to a song about a woman trying to rescue a dying relationship. The only other UK hit from The Visitors album was Head Over Heels which peaked at #25.
I was pretty depressed when ABBA started losing favour with the public in the early 80s, and I feel the songwriting was just starting to develop into something deeper than was present in some of the band's 70s songs. Still, nothing lasts forever and the Swedish quartet provided us with more than enough classic 70s and 80s tunes to enjoy forever!
ABBA at the Premier of the hit movie "Mamma Mia" at Stockholm in July 2008
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