Bjorn Benny Anni-Frid
ABBA rose through the disco era, had the sound,
BUT, their music transcended the genre.
Top 40 hits in 8 years of which 2 were Gold...
ABBA's first GOLD RECORD was "Dancing
Queen" ( #1, 1 week - Top 40, 15 weeks, first charting 01/22/77) which also was also their only #1 hit in the
United State despite their #1 hits worldwide.
Their second GOLD RECORD was "Take A Chance On Me," (#3, 1 week - Top 40, 14 weeks, first charting 05/06/78).
"The Winner Takes It All," to which you are listening, oddly "only" reached #8... HOWEVER, it was ABBA's
most durable hit by charting the Top 40 for 16 weeks.
ABBA's sound evolved over time. By
mid '74, when they released "Waterloo," ABBA's first tune to chart in the United States (#6, 1
week - Top 40, 12 weeks, first charting 06/22/74), their signature sound, featuring piano, melody, harmony, and a straight-forward-coming-at-you-4/4-bass-beat,
had been perfected.
Agnetha Faltskog (the blonde) sang
soprano with Anni-Frid Lyngstad, "Frida," singing mezzo. Both were leads (that's Agnetha singing lead on
"Winner Takes It All"), and both sang supporting harmony, as did the guys. It wasn't only their individual voices
which had the distinctive clarity and temelo that is very European (or U.S. Broadway musical theater), that
trademarked ABBA's sound, but the unique sound of their combined voices which sang in perfect, American English.
As written elsewhere, one knows it when one hears it... and you knew ABBA the minute you heard either, or both of these gals
and the panoramic orchestration.
ABBA was from Stockholm Sweden. But,
their name is not Swedish; it is an acronym made from the first letters of each member's first name. Interestingly, the gals
provided the As and the guys the Bs: Anni-Frid, Agnetha, Bjorn Ulvaeus, the guitarist, and Benny Anderson. the pianist.
Now, more interesting is the fact that
Bjorn and Agnetha were married in 1971 before ABBA's success and divorced in 1979 just a little past the height of the group's
fame. ALSO...Benny married Anni-Frid in 1978 and divorced in 1981 about a year after the group had disbanded.
Disbanded or not, the legacy of ABBA continues: The worldwide, box-office,
smash hit, Mamma Mia is a musical which is cleverly and exclusively interwoven with ABBA's
hits. It is the creative opus of Bjorn and Benny. This production is such a moving event that by the end of every
performance, audience members of all ilk are dancing in the isles and weeping with joy. IT... IS...
A.... HAPPENING! It is also the largest grossing production... ever... anywhere in the world...
outstripping the giant musicals Cats and Phantom of the Opera.
To me, ABBA's success remains greater than
the sum of their great music and great looks ever were... a quality which puts them into my category of TIMELESS.
As a side note to TIMELESSNESS are also the hits of The
Four Season which recently became the backdrop for another broadway
musical, Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Season. Like ABBA, The Four Season carved a new sound that has not been duplicated. Even now, "Oh What
A Night," The Season's last hit, remains a popular request of brides & hosts.
Together, ABBA and The Four Season have spawned a new Broadway genre
referred to as "jukebox musicals" in that the dialog is wrapped around charted hits. This is quite opposite
the traditional way in which such classics, as "Maria" and "Here Come The Jets" have emerged
from the musical itself... as in this case West Side Story.
Side Note1: At
the time ABBA wanted to assume the name "ABBA," they had to get persmission from a fish packing company already using the
name. Little did the packing company know that with their approval they would reap such great PR &
Side Note 2: "Jersey Boys" recently won the 2006 Tony Awards
for Best Play.