5 Abba Lovers Explain Why Songs Are Always Pure Gold
If you are a true music lover – not just someone who subscribes to a genre – then you have a great appreciation for songs. And Abba wrote some great songs that they performed just above the norm. This is the original earworm; it’s the thing that sneaks up and gets stuck in your head. That’s what appeals to people, even if they don’t really like the band or the genre. Even their B side is really, really eye-catching. They have been taken from us for so long; we didn’t have a chance to burn them. It’s like people want the Beatles to get back together.
Anne Sofie von Otter, mezzo-soprano who recorded ‘I Let the Music Speak’, an Abba cover album with Benny Andersson
When they did â€œWaterlooâ€ at Eurovision Song Contest, I remember enjoying it and thinking they were fun, but I didn’t buy the records; I kind of followed the snobs who said they weren’t good, for some stupid reason. I rediscovered them when I went to work in Basel, Switzerland, for my first contract. There was a wonderful record store where I bought a tape of “The Visitors”, and I lay in my bed, feeling sorry for myself, listening to it on my Walkman.
The great thing is Benny Andersson’s musicality – his ability to write a melody, his ear for harmonies. He does not lose sight of the fact that there is an element of folk music, Nordic music, baroque music. He is a great composer; he knows how to use different voices by interweaving and building it. There is a great melancholy in everything he writes, and it hurts you in this wonderful, pleasant way. When I was recording with Elvis Costello, he just called Benny. He came to the studio, and I was completely struck by the star – almost crying with excitement, which happens quite rarely. I was extremely taken by the situation, because I adored it. I still love it, but maybe less dramatically than it did then.
Judy Craymer, â€œMamma Mia! Â»Creator
I was working for lyricist Tim Rice as a production assistant, and the first project I worked on was with Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, writing “Chess”. Meeting Benny and Bjorn was an inspiration in itself. I wanted to know more about why they wrote these songs, what was behind these lyrics, what were the ingredients of these songs. It was fascination for me, because they had a very strong feminine consciousness – these were songs that women sang, but Benny had written them. Seeing them working in the studio, I could understand that it was not just pop songs; there was a wonderful mix of hooks and choruses and production, and they were also Swedish, so there was a kind of melancholy. They are very serious guys; it’s not really the guys who dress in white, with platform boots. It was very interesting for me.
I was fascinated by the explosion of oxygen you get – you come out of melancholy and always end up with a high. Bjorn’s lyrics had daily connections and common themes about people, friendship, broken romances, a child leaving home for school. That’s why I think the songs lasted a lot longer than they thought they would. When I kept harassing them in the 80s, they would say to me, â€œOh, Abba is finished. We move forward. But you don’t have to love Abba to love “Mamma Mia!” there is a much younger audience that did not know Abba as pop stars or performers. They just know the music. You play this music to a child, and it’s almost calming.
I’ve known them for a long time now, and I think they’re still amazed that everyone loves “Dancing Queen” so much and wants to dance to it. It’s a big celebration that they have another album because I met them when they broke up, and it’s a wonderful circle of life that they got back together. There’s an Abba song called “The Way Old Friends Do”, and it’s kind of like that kind of closure.