Swedish supergroup Abba enjoyed one of the most prolific pop careers of any band in history. During their 10-year career, between 1972 and 1982, they won a host of top awards, including the Bravo Otto Silver Award for Best Pop Group a record five times and the Radio Luxembourg Lion Award for best song, Waterloo, in 1974.
They released 73 singles, eight studio albums, seven compilation albums and two live albums, achieving nine number one hits in the UK singles chart. They were also honoured at the 50th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005. As previous winners, their hit, Waterloo, was named the best pop song in the competition’s history.
How the band met
In the mid-1960s, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus were playing Sweden’s live music circuit in different bands. They met while on tour with their respective bands and collaborated on a single in 1966, Isn’t It Easy to Say, which was a minor hit. As their respective bands began splitting up in the late 1960s, Ulvaeus and Andersson started working together more.
In 1969, Andersson met Anni-Frid Lyngstad, his future wife and Abba member, at Sweden’s national music festival, Melodifestivalen. They began dating within a month.
Agnetha Fältskog was a successful solo singer at the age of 18. She had a recording contract with Cupol Records and a number one chart hit in Sweden, Jag Var Så Kär, in 1968. She met Ulvaeus in May 1969, while they were filming a television special. They began dating and married in 1971.
Launch of Abba
In 1970, the quartet formed a band called Festfolk and released a single called People Need Love in June 1972. Following this, they decided to transform into Abba, taking the band’s name from the first initial of each of their Christian names.
They shot to stardom when they were chosen to represent Sweden in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, singing Waterloo. It was number one in the singles charts across Europe and launched Abba’s career as a supergroup across the globe.
After their initial massive hit, Waterloo, Abba produced a string of hit records over the next decade. One of their most famous number one hits was Money, Money, Money in 1976.
What is the song about?
The song is one woman’s lament that despite working very hard, she still has no money left over to buy herself any treats. “I work all night, I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay,” she says, bemoaning the fact that “there never seems to be a single penny left for me.”
It’s a universal theme, since people the world over all have the same worries about not having enough money, feeling like they’re working just to exist and never having any fun.
She goes on to say that in her dreams, if she finds herself a wealthy man, she won’t have to work again and will never have any more worries about money. She also dreams of going to “Las Vegas or Monaco” to go to the casinos and “win a fortune in any game” to change her life.
She feels like in the world of the rich, life is “always sunny”, believing rich people have a free and easy life that is so different from her own.
The song became more famous after it was performed in the 1977 film, Abba: The Movie. It was also performed by Meryl Streep in the 2008 hit film, Mamma Mia, based on the music of Abba. Streep was playing the character, Donna, who was thinking about how hard she had to work to keep her tavern going. She was always dreaming of a better life.
An amazing 14 cover versions of Money, Money, Money have been recorded, including a version by the British group Madness for the 1999 tribute album, Abbamania, a heavy metal version in 2000 by Finnish band Afterworld and an operatic version in 2006 by Swedish opera diva Anne Sofie von Otter.
There has even been a version sung by an animated cat! Kagechiyo the cat, the star of the manga series created in Japan, Ninja Hattori-kun, sings Money, Money, Money in one episode!
Early in 2018, rumours of an Abba reunion tour, after 35 years apart, were rife. The truth was revealed in May, when Ulvaeus explained a high-tech avatar tour was planned, featuring holograms – known as Abbatars – to represent each of the band members, based on their appearance in 1979.
Thanks to innovative technology, the band members’ voices will come out of their mouths, making it look and sound like a real stage show, featuring human beings. Ulvaeus said it was so realistic, it was “spooky”.
Two new singles are planned to coincide with the tour: I Still Have Faith In You has a release date of December 2018 and Don’t Shut Me Down will debut on the Abbatar tour – the dates are to be confirmed.
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