Most of us would agree that one of our earliest memories as a child was listening to our mothers singing an ABBA song. May it be while we were tucked to sleep or during family gatherings when everyone would dance and just have a good time.
How many of us have been told that our parent’s theme song is from ABBA? We didn’t know back then, but ABBA played quite an impact to our formative years.
For those who were born in the 90s, ABBA is the 70s Swedish pop group who rose to fame after they won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Waterloo.” ABBA, which stands for the first letter of the band member’s names — Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid, is considered the most successful Swedish pop group in history selling almost 400 million records worldwide.
Although ABBA started in 1971, it was only after their Eurovision success that made them famous worldwide. From 1974 to 1982 the group recorded eight studio albums and three world tours with memorable songs like “Honey, Honey, Honey”, “Hasta Manana”, “Dancing Queen”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Money, Money, Money”, “Chiquitita”, “Fernando”, “The Winner Takes It All”, “Mama Mia!”, “SOS” and “Take A Chance on Me” among others.
GigsManila listed down some reasons why ABBA remains immortal in the hearts and minds of every Filipino.
Dance, sing and party.
ABBA’s songs are mostly mid-tempo to upbeat. In some of their songs, a slow start will give way to a lively chorus. Dancing Queen, released in 1976 became ABBA’s #1 song in the Billboard Hot 100 and also one of the best dance songs of all time.
Speaking of Dancing Queen, any true blooded, microphone wielding Pinoys would agree that one of their must-sing songs is ABBA’s Dancing Queen. Hit the first lines and anyone (and almost everybody) will sing and even dance along. Dancing Queen, tops the most well-loved ABBA songs among Pinoys.
Hitting the right spot
What makes ABBA song remarkable is their lyrics which were mostly written by Benny and Bjorn with some inputs from the ladies. Although mostly upbeat, their songs reflect all kinds of emotions from happiness to the brooding picture of despair. This is why ABBA’s songs became the inspiration to the 90s hit musical Mama Mia!— about a young girl who found out at the wake of her wedding that she has three possible fathers. The play was also adapted into a movie released in July 2008.
The secret of ABBA is that every song is unique. According to Rollingstone, in an interview in 2002, Benny and Bjorn said that “each song should be different .” That is why they almost covered about everything, may it be a melody for a friend (Chiquitita), or for someone fighting a war (Fernando).
ABBA also made songs for someone courting (Take A Chance on Me), or for a broken hearted (SOS, Mama Mia, The Winner Takes it All). ABBA’s words struck right where it should be with lines like “Tell me does she kiss/like the way I kiss you” or an encouragement saying “If you see the wonder of a fairy tale / You can take the future even if you fail.”
What ABBA does is pure perfectionism. Rich words full of emotions that no one can ever describe were just artistically put into songs. In fact, Rollingstone cited Benny and Bjorn as one of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time. They said the duo were “hardcore about songwriting” and even continue on writing songs even after ABBA disbanded.
No one can deny that ABBA’s fashion sense was something no one can ever ignore. ABBA’s colorful and fashionable costumes became their trademark. Agnetha and Frida’s hair were also trend-setter – from big curls to super straight hair. Who can remember their mothers sporting the same hairstyle and dresses the two ABBA ladies wore? We do.
Art imitating life
As if our own lives are not dramatic enough, our parents might have followed the group’s personal lives and empathize while our country was under Martial Law. During ABBA’s heydays, Agnetha and Bjorn and Anni-Frid and Benny were married. The success of the group took a toll on their relationship which resulted to separation of Agnetha and Bjorn in 1979. Anni-Frid and Benny followed in 1981.
The Winner Takes It All, released in 1980, was believed to be based in Agnetha and Bjorn’s experience. Although they denied this, the song went on to be a chart topper in Europe and became ABBA’s fourth and final American Top 10 hit. The series of collapse in the band member’s relationships resulted to the composition of ABBA’s songs with deeper and emotional lyrics. After Anni-Frid and Benny’s divorce in 1981, the group was never the same again which led to their falling out in 1982.
ABBA, perhaps is the greatest pop group of all time. They might have taken separate ways even before most of us were born but their songs live on. The passion and the heart of their words continue to strike our heart and would always make us dance, cry or sing along. These are just some reasons why we love ABBA and why we will always be thankful for their music.