ABBA, Sweden’s Top Export

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A picture of ABBA from the 1974 Eurovision, from the left Benny Andersson, Anni-frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Björn Ulvaeus.

Lucas Nogueira, Journalist

     They’ll have you singing Mamma Mia! Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. A Swedish pop supergroup better known as ABBA, one of the most successful and impactful bands in world music history. Dominating the 70’s and enjoying a continuous resurgence of  popularity since the 90’s. “Dancing Queen is the happiest song ever” Sophia Barozzo, Senior. Most OHS students have had their contact with Sweden’s ABBA through song, through film or even through their own “Mamma Mia ” play that the students had during the 2018-2019 school year. 

     “ABBA is its own genre, nothing sounds like it. It’s so well done, they worked so hard on each and every note in a song. It’s also the blend of Frida and Agnetha voices that is amazing.” says Mia Segolsson, General Manager at Polar Music International, “I am amazed to see how their music just keeps growing” says Segolsson  Despite not releasing an album in nearly four decades ABBA stays very much alive, managing to sell one million records a year, achieving 18 consecutive Top Ten singles, a total of nine number ones, having been inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, overall having “an estimated total sales figure of 390 million albums and singles sold” according to Segolsson, and being the most commercially successful band of the 1970’s is sure to cement you a spot in pop culture royalty. Throughout their reign in the charts from its active years of 1972-1982 ABBA released 8 studio albums, their first debut single “People Need Love” was released June, 1972 accompanied by their debut album “Ring Ring” released in February, 1973 both did well, enough to convince Stig Anderson founder and owner of ABBAs record label Polar Music to keep the act. He told the band “One day the pair of you will write a song that becomes a worldwide hit” and sure enough in 1974 his prediction came true. 

     The 1974  Eurovision Song Contest saw 17 duos, bands and singers compete and only one took the prize and that was ABBA with their performance of “Waterloo”. “Waterloo” was ABBA’s first number-one single in countries like the UK and West Germany. In the United States, the song peaked at number-six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; such exposure also led to ABBAs first performance on American television. “Every album they released had at least one hit” John McDurmon, Senior  Success was further reached with the 1975 release of the album “ABBA” with “Mamma Mia” reaching number-one in the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia. In the United States, “SOS” peaked at number 10 on the Record World Top 100 singles chart and number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, picking up the BMI Award along the way as one of the most played songs on American radio in 1975.

     At this time ABBA were celebrities but not yet the superstars they are now. It took until 1976 for when their 4th studio album “Arrival” was released. It was hit after hit filled with some of their most known songs such as “Money, Money, Money”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and ABBAs biggest and most well known hit “Dancing Queen”. The group’s sixth studio album, Voulez-Vous, was released in April 1979. “Chiquitita”, “Does Your Mother Know”, “Angeleyes” “Voulez-Vous” and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” the hits stacked on. Sold out concerts and being besieged by fans was a reality ABBA had become comfortable with. In 1980 ABBAs 7th album “Super Trouper” was released  carrying “The Winner Takes It All”, the group’s eighth chart topper. Then 1981 ABBAs last album “The Visitors” was released and along it came ABBAs last and 9th hit “One of Us”. Shortly after, ABBA stopped making music for several personal reasons, a major one being that the group members were recently going through divorce (Faltskog divorced Ulvaeus and Lyngstad divorced Andersson.)

     ABBA didn’t come back together publicly after 1986 until they were reunited at the Swedish premiere of the Mamma Mia! movie on 4 July 2008. ABBA does not plan to come back on stage to perform, they have nothing else to prove. The band members want the world to remember them when they were young and energetic. Though they were offered in 2000 one billion dollars by an American-British consortium to reunite and perform 100 shows. That’s 250 million dollars to each member. They declined “It’s a hell of a lot of money to say no to, but we decided it wasn’t for us,” Andersson told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet in 2000. The most recent reunion was on the 20th of January 2016, all four members of ABBA made a public appearance at Mamma Mia! The Party in Stockholm. “I will never ever get tired of their music, it is always time to listen to ABBA, when you are happy or sad.”says Segolsson.  ABBA is not over, they plan to release two songs in 2021 and have a 3D avatar tour of themselves in 2022.