Handedly beating out IKEA and Volvo as the best thing to come out of Sweden since the smorgasbord is the 70's disco supergroup, ABBA.
ABBA, the disco/rock/pop band sensation of the mid-seventies and early eighties, was comprised of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Faltskog. Each member lent the first intial of their names to form the creatively titled name of the band: ABBA. At first, the name of the band caused a bit of controversy as it is also the same name as a canned fish manufacturer unknown outside of Sweden. Ingeniously, the band decided to turn the first'b' in ABBA around to create a mirror image and the fish cannery didn't seem to mind as all of the exposure they got doubled their profits and led to siblings all across the world to dare each other to try Swedish pickled fish.
ABBA's first big break was in 1973 on Eurovision. For Americans who may have never seen the show, Eurovision is a television song contest much like American Idol, but without all of the douch-baggery or Ryan Seacrest. Unfortunately, they came in third with the song 'Ring Ring' and failed to qualify as the band representing Sweden that year.
Undeterred, Abba came back the next year, storming the world like a berserking viking raid in sequins and shiny spandex. Thanks to the success of the show, ABBA burst onto the international music scene with the song 'Waterloo', laying waste to all of their competitors with a whoop of 'take that, bitches!'.
After winning Eurovision, ABBA's first tour was met with modest success. While in the beginning, they did rather poorly across much of Europe, because all of those other whiny, European countries were jealous of their awesomeness, they still managed to sell out shows in their native Scandanavia.
Despite the disappointment of that tour, the single 'Waterloo' reached #1 across Europe and broke into the top 10 on the American charts. Much like their wildly catchy songs and dynamite sense of fashion, ABBA was a force to be reckoned with and not easily forgotten.......ever.
Soon, ABBA's popularity was on the rise, inflicting people around the world with an ear worm that lasted for days and forced people to either go insane singing about 'there was something in the air that night' or to purchase their records. Their next hit, 'S.O.S.' came 18 months later and by 1976, ABBA was a world-wide sensation. More hits were to follow with the release of their self-titled album ABBA, starting with 'Mamma Mia' .
Adding to their popularity came the releases of 'Fernando' and the impossible-to-not-sing-along 'Dancing Queen'. Interestingly, 'Dancing Queen' was the only ABBA song to reach #1 in America, most likely due to the fact due to the fact that most Americans in the seventies were too busy getting drunk or stoned and going to swinging key parties to listen to the radio.
Ah....the good 'ol days.
While American audiences were luke-warm for the quartet, Australians went completely bat-shit crazy for their stuff. In 1977, ABBA played 11 shows down-under with over 160,000 people attending their concerts. Even the prime minister came to one of their shows in Melbourne with his family.
The band continued to garner fans for nearly a decade, but by 1984, ABBA was no more. While the band never officially broke-up, the members all went their seperate ways and of course, as is customary in the music world, tried to make their own solo albums, but never had much success outside the group.
By the mid-eighties, it seemed that ABBA was destined to go to the way of many other disco groups went after the seventies, that is, into oblivion. However, the nineties saw a resurrection of their music, beginning with the 1994 cult classic The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert', which shockingly enough for a movie about drag queens, featured 'Dancing Queen'. Next came the 1999 realease of the wildly popular musical Mamma Mia!, based on the music of ABBA and in 2008, the feature film version starring a tone-deaf Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep debuted.
If in case you've been living under a rock for the past thirty years and haven't heard the music of ABBA, here is just a sampling of ABBA's hits:
Admit it, you were singing along, weren't you?