Home  >>  Write  >>  People In The News  >>  Top 50  >>  ABBA



To say that ABBA was a pop group from Sweden from 1972 until 1982 is a little like saying the sun is a star: true, but by no means a definitive description. ABBA are more than just retired musicians. ABBA are the creators behind numerous popular examples of abba music like dancing queen and waterloo. They sparked a thirst for abba costumes at Halloween parties. ABBA music inspired the mega-popular musical mamma mia. ABBA put Sweden on the musical map, and inspired later Swedish pop acts like the mid-1990s pop idols, Ace of Base. Any way you look at it, ABBA is a cultural phenomenon. How can cheesy music with such obvious English as a second language lyrics remain so unstoppably popular 25 years after the group�s break-up?
To understand the ABBA legacy, it is necessary to study a little bit of abba history and a little bit of the abba biography. The group consisted of four members: Benny Andersson, Bj�rn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha F�ltskog. The name abba is an acronym of the first letters of the group members� first names. The group actually consisted of two couples: Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, and Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog. Pre-ABBA, Benny and Bjorn were members of other pop groups; Benny of cover band the Hep Stars, and Bjorn of the Hootenay Singers. The two singers met while touring, became friends, and penned a song together called Isn�t It Easy to Say. A producer encouraged them to write more, and the duo gradually began composing together, penning several Swedish hits for other singers to sing. The bands they wrote for began to break up, and in 1970, Benny and Bjorn recorded an album together, called Lycka.
Now you know the Swedish word for happiness. But Benny and Bjorn weren�t the only ones with successful musical careers. Agnetha had a number one record in Sweden when she was merely seventeen years old. She was receiving rave reviews from the critics, too. Anni-Frid (also known as Frida), meanwhile, had been a singer since the age of thirteen. She performed in cabaret shows, released music singles, and was a regular on the folk music circuit. She�d crossed paths with both Agnetha and Benny on various musical events. Agnetha and Benny briefly met at a concert, then met again during a TV show filming in 1969. The couple eventually began dating, then married in 1971. Anni-Frid and Bjorn met while participating in Melodifestivalen, then met again while touring, and hooked up as a couple in 1969. Both Agnetha and Anni-Frid sang backup vocals on the Lycka album. The abba band formed almost by accident while the two couples were vacationing in Cyprus.
The foursome began singing on the beach for fun, and somehow this evolved into an impromptu performance for the United Nations soldiers stationed in Cyprus at the time. This was the first ABBA performance, though at this point in abba history, they were still just Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid. Those four names, by the way, are what the abba band was originally called. For a long time, the foursome didn�t want to work together. Though the girls sang backup on Lycka, all four members of the future supergroup had their own projects going on. During the early 1970s stage of the abba biography, the group occasionally performed together. For example, they had their own stage at Festfolk and sang cabaret-style songs to a very receptive audience. But Benny and Bjorn focused most of their energy on writing for others. A couple of their songs became surprise hits in Japan. The group started out with a bunch of songs with titles like People Need Love and Nina, Pretty Ballerina. But abba�s first famous song was waterloo, the winner of the 1974 Eurovision contest in England. Their subsequent European tour was not the success the group was hoping for. However, their third album contained the songs mamma mia and SOS, and had much more success. The next album contained songs with some of the pretties abba lyrics, such as Knowing Me, Knowing You; Fernando; Money, Money, Money; and dancing queen.
Later, in 1977, came The Name of the Game and Take a Chance on me, both of which also contain well-known abba lyrics. Throughout the 1970s, abba�s star continued to shine. They performed around the world, but in Russia, had to be paid in oil commodities because of an embargo on Russian currency. Their eighth and final album, The Visitors, dealt with social themes like the threat of war and ageing. But in the early 1980s, the couples divorced and the group broke up. Benny and Bjorn went on to write musicals, the most famous of which is mamma mia! Mamma mia is the story of a girl searching for her birth father amidst a delightful backdrop of abba music. Agnetha and Anni-Frid kept singing, and had a few international hits each. None of their songs, though, have the legacy of their abba music, and none of their albums sold as well as their abba albums had. It is estimated that abba albums have sold over 340 million copies worldwide, but it�s hard to know for sure, seeing as the number is constantly growing. Abba music had a huge resurgence in the 1990s when the group Erasure started remixing abba music.
This decade saw the release of two greatest hits abba albums, Abba Gold and More ABBA Gold. ABBA has an important role in musical history, not because their songs are especially lyrically or melodically complex, but because they were the first mainland Europe pop group to make it big in the English-speaking world. It is often said that abba paved the way for other European pop acts to break into the American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand markets. Post-ABBA examples include A-Ha, Ace of Base, and Gunther. Even today, it�s not unusual to hear abba music playing on the radio, in night clubs or even at school dances. The song dancing queen, for example, remains a fixture on many prom night playlists.