ABBA is one of the moist beloved musical acts of all time. The group’s name is derived from the initials of the first names of the band members: Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Faltskog, two talented couples with a knack for making great pop music. For ten years or so, the Swedish band ruled the world with their many smash hits until their breakup in 1982.
Though it’s been almost thirty years since the end of ABBA, the group has never strayed from the public eye since the breakup. The smash Broadway musical Mamma Mia, a fictional story which included many of the group’s most famous hits, revived interest in the band when it debuted in 1999*. The group is slated to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 15,2010 and on Wednesday, January 27th, ABBAWorld, a museum/theme park dedicated to the band opened in London.
ABBA was a band that was successful throughout the far reaches of the world. With catchy pop lyrics and the beautiful melodies sung by the perfectly blended voices of Agnetha and Anni-Frid, ABBA was a bona fide hit-making machine for the ten years of its existence. Unfortunately, the interpersonal relationships between each of the two couples have made any reunion attempts fruitless, and personal appearances together have been rare. Luckily, their music is timeless and an integral part of pop culture history, so the group’s musical catalog lives on.
So what are the greatest ABBA songs? Music is a highly subjective thing, so this list may be different from yours, but hopefully you will agree that these songs are all classic. Here are my picks for the top ten ABBA songs:
#10 – Does Your Mother Know – This 1979 tune is one of the few ABBA songs featuring the lead vocals of Bjorn and is both kitschy and catchy. It’s one of the only songs I know that uses the word “chick” in reference to a girl.
#9- Knowing Me, Knowing You – This melancholy tune is representative of the relationship difficulties being experienced by both couples at the time of its recording. The song is one of ABBA’s first songs to deal with breakups and precluded divorces between each couple. The tune was a smash hit worldwide.
#8 – Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man after Midnight) – This one had such an irresistible hook that Madonna asked for and was given rare permission to sample it in her own 2005 smash Hung Up. With a decidedly disco flavor, this 1979 single hit the top ten in 11 countries.
#7 – Voulez Vous – This up tempo song is catchy and fun!
#6 – Chiquitita – This is one of two Spanish-flavored classics on the list and one of the group’s biggest hits. With beautiful lyrics and equally melodic vocals the crescendo of the chorus is simply irresistible.
#5 – Mamma Mia – The title track to the hit Broadway musical is a delightful song that’s got all of the typical catchy hooks and melodies that helped propel the group into stardom. The song is humorously featured in the 1994 Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
#4 – Fernando – “There was something in the air that night, the stars so bright, Fernando.” This was one of ABBA’s most beloved songs, a ballad of two friends reminiscing about past victories. With a catchy and melodic chorus, the tune remains as the group’s best selling single of all time.
#3- S.O.S. – The chorus of this song is such a catchy, foot thumping crescendo that it I had great difficulty placing it at #3.
#2 – Dancing Queen – Arguably ABBA’s most successful song, this one was the group’s only number one hit in the US in 1977, and reached the same pinnacle in 13 other countries during the height of the disco era.
#1 – Waterloo – One of the group’s first hits, Waterloo helped propel ABBA on to the worldwide music scene when it won 1974’s Eurovision Song Contest. The song has been featured in an episode of the Simpsons as well as in the 1994 feature film, Muriel’s Wedding and is great fun the whole way through.
*Note: The stage opening of Mamma Mia in 1999 took place at the Prince Edward Theater in London’s West End. The show opened on Broadway in New York on October 18, 2001.