The 1970s shall heretofore be known as the ABBA Era, because we all know the Swedish pop group was the life blood of that groovy decade. Their catchy tunes and graceful harmonies took the world by storm and haven’t lost one ounce of their sparkling appeal over the years.
Let’s start at the very beginning: songwriters Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson collaborated in the late 60s and early 70s, writing a string of Swedish pop hits. Eventually they teamed up with Anni-Frid ‘Frida’ Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog (say that three times fast) to form not only a pop group but a little family unity as well; wedded bliss united the two couples and they started recording singles in 1972.
The big breakthrough came in 1974 when ABBA represented Sweden in the Eurovision song competition and won first prize with “Waterloo” – possibly the first and only time Napoleon was the subject of an international hit song. “Waterloo” was big, brash and exuberant featuring guitar, piano and saxophone and the girls’ amazing harmonies. It made top 10 in the US charts and let the rest of the world know just who was Sweden’s best export. ABBA kept churning out hits with “S.O.S.,” “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen” – the latter of which skyrocketed to #1 in the US and became their biggest success. In addition to their infectiously upbeat songs, the group put out several power ballads like “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and later, “The Winner Takes It All.” These bittersweet laments revealed the personal turmoil of the two married couples that were in the process of separating in the late 70s.
Even through their divorces, ABBA continued to make music until 1982, when they incorporated more synth-pop into their songs to reflect the changing sounds of the new decade. The Super Trooper and The Visitors albums brought even more fans into the fold but the group split up professionally as well as privately. By then, the four Swedes had blazed a shining trail during their long alliance, enthralling the world with their distinctive sound. A genuine pop phenomenon, ABBA merchandise was as popular as their records and included dolls, lunch boxes and many more personal accessories and household items. In 1999, the musical Mamma Mia! debuted in London, based on ABBA’s songs and became a huge international success, rekindling interest in the group and expanding their audience (though loyal fans didn’t need a reminder of their beloved band’s awesomeness).
We’re pretty sure we have a few ABBA fans around these parts and we’d like to hear from you. Head on down to our trusty comments section and let your feelings for this Swedish quartet be known to the world. Tell us your favorites, let us know if you ever saw them in concert, and any other memories you wish to share with all of us at Retroland.