ABBA is one of the most well-known musical groups when it comes to the pop genre. It’s mostly known as a Swedish group that’s churned out commercial successes one after another. Among their most famous works are ‘Mamma Mia’, ‘Take a Chance on Me’, and ‘Super Trouper’. It was dominant mainly in the 1970s, where it was all over the charts in Europe.
Even today, the music of ABBA lives on. Modern artists like Lady Gaga have been greatly influenced by their music. If anyone is even remotely interested in pop music, they should read up on ABBA and see what made them so popular. This is why we’ve presented a summary of their journey below:
From Eurovision Winners to Global Pop Phenomenon
ABBA has entered into the pantheon of great recording artists and groups whose music endures across generations. Their greatest hits albums continue to sell extremely well today, with even younger generations being familiar with their work.
Part of what propelled ABBA to success was their winning of Eurovision with their song “Waterloo” (think American Idol 70s and European style). After their big win, they started touring Europe and their popularity grew. They also visited the US and were on the Mike Douglas show.
The breakthrough in ABBA’s international success came when they released a ‘Greatest Hits’ album. It helped to grow their popularity in the UK and led to growing popularity in the US market. The popularity of this band and their music might not be the same today, but one can’t deny that their songs have had a lasting impact on both the music and movie industry in several countries.
Abba’s Impact on the Recording Industry
The Swedish pop music group’s discography consists of 1 live album, 8 studio albums, 7 compilation albums, 4 video albums, 3 box sets, 73 singles, and 31 music videos. While their rise to fame may have been in the 70s, their songs are still hailed today as classic oldies staples. They’re enjoyed by both the original audience and their future generations, even getting tributes in popular modern shows such as Glee. There’s also a movie named ‘Mamma Mia’, with a sequel named ‘Mamma Mia 2’. The soundtrack for both movies has several songs from the band, signifying that ABBA’s music is still applicable today.
Solos and Singles
Many of the band members also did several solo albums. In addition to this, many of their albums have been re-released and re-mastered. Their discography can also be found on Apple’s iTunes and Amazon’s Music store.
The singles named ‘S.O.S’ and ‘Mamma Mia’ were highly popular across Europe, North America, and Australia. The band was also known for having some of the most creative and enjoyable music videos, with their creator being nominated for several awards. The quarter itself had a combined charisma that appealed to pop music fans, especially when the music video format capitalized on that charm.
“Dancing Queen” was the only number one hit single in America, with its catchy, club-friendly, and unforgettable tune. This was included in the 1977 album ‘Arrival’, which was their biggest and most popular studio album worldwide.
The Legacy of ABBA
In April 2006, Universal Music Group acknowledged that the group’s recordings have sold an estimated 370 Million units internationally – a truly amazing number. In 1992, the compilation album ABBA Gold was released. This has become one of the most popular albums globally, selling over 28 million copies. ABBA has been very successful in Australia, and they continue to be hugely popular there as well as in several other parts of the world.
When ABBA first started out, its original band members included songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, who played the keyboard and guitar respectively. The vocalists were Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-FridLyngstad (usually known as Frida). The members remained more or less the same, with Anni-Frid being replaced for a while when she was recovering from childbirth.
The original name for ABBA was Festfolk, which was a play on their music genre as well as their personal lives. The Swedish pronunciation of this name was slang for ‘engaged couples’, which the band members were. The four members did pair off in a romantic sense, even having children together. However, their marriage didn’t last very long and ended in divorce.
While the band started in 1969, it was the 1974 Eurovision event that got them top prize and their eventual success. By that time, they had hit upon the name ABBA, which was taken from the first letters of all their names.
In April 1975, ABBA had a growing international popularity in countries like Canada, the U.K., and Germany. It was during this time that the “Best of ABBA” album was released, which was a collection of the band’s greatest album hits. It was released in late 1975 in Australia as well as New Zealand. The album immediately hit the top of the charts in both countries. It also obtained Platinum certification in New Zealand.
In Australia, this particular album spent sixteen weeks at the top of the charts, whereas in New Zealand the album was eight weeks at the top of the charts. “The Best of ABBA” was one of the biggest selling record albums in Australian history, selling millions of copies. At one point, RCA records Australia could not keep up with the demand for the album.
There was also a re-release of ‘The Best of ABBA’ in 1988 in the form of discs and CDs. However, these were only available for a very short period of time. While the physical forms of these items might be valuable for music collectors today, we also have access to these songs online.
A year after Arrival, ABBA’s 1978 album marked a sort of departure from the standard pop music. It was a mixture of pop with ‘Take a Chance on Me’, while some other songs had the influence of art rock. The B side of the album was mostly a kind of mini-musical named ‘The Girl with the Golden Hair’.
This album, titled simply ‘The Album’ was a distinct progression in the music of ABBA, but tensions within the band were causing it to splinter.
Fältskog and Ulvaeus were divorced before Voulez-Vous was released in 1979. While the two didn’t want their breakup to sour their music, the songs “Lay All Your Love on Me” and “The Winner Takes It All’ had definite melancholic undertones that weren’t there before.
The other couple, Lyngstad and Andersson covered while The Visitors was being recorded in 1981. Their single “One of Us” is a testimony to the mood of all the band members during that time. This second splitting was probably the last straw, and ABBA disbanded the following year.
Solo Careers and Movies
Once ABBA was no more, the band members had somewhat successful musical careers of their own. Andersson and Ulvaeus teamed up with Tim Rice to make a concept album named ‘Chess’. They also came up with a stage musical that led to an unexpected hot called ‘One Night in Bangkok’.
Like all other popular bands, ABBA fans have been interested in a reunion over the years. However, the band has denied any chances of that happening. To date, they have made a few public appearances together, but that was mainly for tributes or private parties. Now, there are stories of ABBA releasing some new music after almost 35 years.
Several other musical groups have covered ABBA songs in many ways. Their tracks are also featured fairly regularly on the big screen, having a major role in the soundtracks and plots of films like ‘The Adventures of Priscilla’, ‘Muriel’s Wedding’, and ‘Queen of the Desert’.
The male members of ABBA also had an interest in musical theatre, which led to the creation of the romantic comedy ‘Mamma Mia!’ This debuted in 1999 on London’s West End and was viewed by a worldwide audience of millions. The movie we mentioned above was an adaptation of this play and was a huge box office success. It also featured Meryl Streep, one of the leading actresses of this decade.
In 2010, the success of ABBA was cemented when they became a part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There’s no denying that they absolutely deserved this honor, having contributed to music in many ways all over the world. Fans of this band, both young and old, are still holding out for a proper reunion. If one does happen, it will be sure to get a lot of attention and media coverage.