Sunday, 24 April 2016

Top Ten ABBA Songs

I have had my musical taste questioned many times but the most recent attack came from a work colleague who suggested that my favourite music genre is basically just ripping off ABBA, which of course it isn’t.

This all stems from the discovery that one of my current favourite artists, Steven Wilson, produced an album of cover versions, one of which was an ABBA song.

Regular reader may know that in the past, I may have mentioned that I kind of grew up with ABBA. When I was a young impressionable kid just about to become a teenager ABBA were the biggest pop band in the world. And I have to admit that I was a fan – and I guess part of me still is. Nobody can deny that their music was influential (just not on progressive rock and progressive metal) but in the world of pop music, it was up there with the best.

And I had a massive teenage crush on Agnetha Fältskog (which hormone-filled lad didn’t at that age?).

My musical taste is fairly wide and ABBA reside proudly on my iPod alongside many more bands that some might say are an acquired taste.

Without further ado, therefore, I present my top ten ABBA songs, knowing full well that everybody likes them (even those cynical work colleagues who deny it).

10. That’s Me

My best mate as a teenager was also a fan and owned the ABBA album Arrival which featured this song. He used to play it all the time and for a while became firmly entrenched in my head as a pleasant earworm. And on the rare occasions I have heard it since, it has once again taken up residence, taking me back to the mid-1970’s with a smile.

9. Lay All You Love On Me

Towards the end of their career, ABBA embraced a more electronic sound, as was the trend at the time. It appeared in the charts in the period between my leaving school and starting university. By this stage my musical taste had changed significantly, flipping between heavy metal and electropop. My fascination with ABBA was over, but this song appeared and took me back to those years when I liked the band and fitted in with my tastes at that time.

8. Knowing Me Knowing You

As mentioned earlier, my best mate loved the album Arrival and this was by far his favourite song on the record. It’s a great song but I can’t help thinking about Alan Partridge when I hear the chorus. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a spoof presenter/reporter (and arguably the worst in the world) with a show called Knowing Me Knowing You and whenever he appears he yells “AHA!” at the top of his voice.

7. I’m a Marionette

I didn’t normally take much notice of B-sides and it wasn’t often that they were better than the A-side. My sister bought The Name of the Game and this was on the B-side. I remember she played her single while I was there and then turned it over to give the flip side a spin. “That’s a much better song,” I said. She disagreed and never played it again. I actually took it to my room and popped it on my current mix tape at the time. It’s a bit of a darker song, with a nice guitar piece in the middle, which probably explains why I preferred it.

6. Mamma Mia

As a rule, I prefer the rockier ABBA songs and Mamma Mia was one of the first I heard after they had won the Eurovision Song Contest. I have to confess that I have never seen the dreadful musical to which this song gives its name because to me it is an abomination to take ABBA’s music and turn it into a sleazy story peppered with their songs. I know it’s incredibly popular but there is no way I would waste my money or time on it. What a terrible, terrible idea. Anyway, rant over – the song is good!

5. Waterloo

This is the song that started it all. I hate the Eurovision Song Contest now but in the past, I actually used to watch it avidly (well until about 1978 anyway). ABBA won the competition with this song way back in 1974 and this was their big introduction to the rest of Europe and the world, in fact. It remains my second favourite ever winner – behind the more controversial Hard Rock Hallelujah by Lordi (which I will spare you). Mind you, just take a look at those costumes in the video,

4. S.O.S

This is another earworm for me, a song that burrows into my head and stays there for a while, to the point where I find myself humming it. In fact, as I type I am humming the chorus. It’s a great little song.

3. Voulez-Vous

I’m a little puzzled as to why this song wasn’t a bigger hit, as it was certainly better than most of their other high chart entries. It’s a great dance song and at the time of its release it usually had the effect of filling the dance floor. It coincides with the time I first started venturing out into the world of the night club and remained a favourite of quite a few that I frequented around that time.

2. Eagle

Eagle is a beautiful and epic song. In fact, of all the songs they have released, this is the closest to being progressive, with a fantastic orchestral keyboard sound and a great little guitar solo (around the 3:10 minute mark). It’s a very uplifting song and always puts me in a great mood. I guess I need to start listening to it at work.

1. So Long

As a lover of rock music, I had to pick what I consider ABBA’s rockiest song as my favourite. You would expect nothing less, I guess, dear reader. Again, this was one of the first songs I heard after Waterloo and, strangely it was never released as a single in the UK. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that you have not heard it, dear reader. I also apologise for being a bit of a letch; Agnetha is particularly lovely in this video – it’s probably what started it all off, to be fair.

And finally …

I hope you liked my selection , dear reader.

I am sure you are a closet ABBA fan.

Feel free to let me know your favourites – particularly if you are the work colleague who inspired this post (you know who you are!).


Big D said...

I like some Abba stuff. SOS is one of my favourite 70s pop songs.

Judging by the amount of metal bands that do ABBA covers, a lot of metalheads have a battered copy of ABBA Gold on the CD shelf.

Big D said...

Just heard "So Long" - That's a proper Glam Rock stompalong. How did that never get released in the UK?

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Big D,

They wrote some good songs. I'll have to check some of the metal versions.

I agree about "So Long" - I suspect it was released well before "Waterloo" so never made it to the UK.




River said...

Love this selection! There's three I've never heard of: That's Me; I'm a Marionette; Eagle.
and of course I sang along with all the rest, which I have on my Ipods along with 16 others.
I'm quite surprised to see a resemblance to two Australian actors, Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths, who sang ABBA songs (Mamma Mia; Waterloo) in the movie Muriel's Wedding.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I've seen Muriel's Wedding and I remember the songs.

I'm surprised you've not heard Eagle.




Drb said...

My favourite is Dancing Queen. I was only introduced to ABBA in the 90s, my roommate played the CDs everyday when he came back from work. The songs are stuck in my head. He was such a ABBAfan that he went to watch the musical mama Mia with me.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi DrB,

Dancing Queen is probably their most famous song - but not one of my favourites as it was played relentlessly when it was released and I soon grew weary of it.




Jackie K said...

Good choices! My favourites are:
Money Money Money
Knowing Me Knowing You
Lay All Your Love on Me - but not the ABBA version, I actually love the scene with this song in the movie Mama Mia - there is so much chemistry between the actors singing it, they make it great!

I also loved That's Me when I was a kid, and Voulez Vous, Fernando and When I Kissed the Teacher. I have always hated Dancing Queen for some reason.
ABBA were HUGE in Australia in the 1970s, and provided so many of my childhood memories. Thanks for the memories PM!

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jackie,

I know what you mean about Dancing Queen. Also, Money, Money, Money annoyed me, as did Summer Night City.