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ABBA: A Love Language Gift For Sensational Success

"ABBA Edmonton 1979 001.jpg" by Anders Hanser is licensed under CC BY 3.0. 
The Color Purple 2023

ABBA, a best-selling music group from the 70’s, launched to success with a number of singles. Global hits include “Dancing Queen” and “Super Trooper.”

Many songs were in the musical “Mamma Mia” that featured ABBA’s music. The group became popular in their home country of Sweden, the UK, Latin America and countries across the world. 

ABBA - Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, and Agnetha Fältskog are pictured in front of an airplane.
“ABBA at Rotterdam colourised 1979” by Fernando Pereira (ANEFO); Misterpither (colourisation) is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

BATTLE OF THE BANDS

Originally, ABBA came together when two couples came together to create the band. The name ABBA is a palindrome of the first letter of each of the members. Björn Ulvaeus married Agnetha Fältskog, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad to Benny Andersson. 

First, Ulvaues met Andersson in June of 1966. From ABBA’s origin story article, Ulvaeus and Andersson actually met through the music industry. Both men were in different bands at the time. Andersson was in the folk music group the Hootenanny Singers, and Benny played in The Hep Stars. Both bands were popular in Sweden. 

ABBA sits in the back of a taxi looking lavish
“Benny Andersson, pimp style” by hey mr glen is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

After the two met, they sat down to write their first song together. In 1974, their skills were tested. The song “Waterloo” won first place in the Eurovision Song Contest. The year before, “Ring Ring” had finished in third.

RISING FROM DEFEAT TO TRIUMPH

When “Waterloo” became popular, German, English, Swedish and French versions followed. ABBA’s website stated a Spanish version was created. There was no recording found. Nonetheless, a visit to Spain later in 1974 began the relationship with that language. 

After going on the television show Señoras y Señores, ABBA marks the trip as their “kickoff” with the Spanish language.

Just a few years later, they made the song “Chiquitita.” Buddy McCluskey was an employee of the groups record label RCA Records. McCluskey worked in Argentina, and suggested singing in other languages.

With the help of another couple (McCluskey and his wife Mary) in writing the song, success in South America followed. 

A SPANISH SUCCESS FOR ABBA

Released in January of 1979, “Chiquitita” became one of the most popular songs at the time. An article from “Rocking in the Norselands” said the songs before “Chiquitita” seemed to “lag” and people felt the new album was “dragging.”

Initially the song was from a track titled “In the Arms of Rosalita.” It was a way to try and connect with the fan base McCluskey suggested. After remaking the song, it became the hit we know today, and a contribution to UNICEF’s concert that year. 

REACHING LISTENERS OVERSEAS

Regardless, there were fears on how to expand the fan base that grew from Señoras y Señores. “Chiquitita” seemed to melt those fears away. It became one of the most beloved hits in South America for over 25 years.

A backstage shot of ABBA performing  in concert.
“Abba Concert 052” by enderbyeye@ymail.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Furthermore, other artists including Shakira and Cyndi Lauper have found fan bases overseas, and ABBA used more Latin flair.

Billboard reported that the Spanish version of “I Have a Dream” became “Estoy Soñando.” The band did interviews in Spanish and retreats abroad to South America. A Spanish journalist helped with pronunciation, improving the band’s ability to be culturally fluid.

Gracias Por La Música came out and more fans liked the Spanish flavor in “Hasta Mañana” and “Fernando.” ABBA actually created and sang more songs in Spanish than their native language of Swedish. 

ABBA AND ITS LEGACY

The group continues to be a hit around the world. After both couples had divorced, the group split up in 1982. Despite the break ups, their music lives on: They still managed to top charts in over 15 countries after a 40 year absence. 

Additionally, music producer Judy Craymer helped younger fans turn on older tracks. The love for hit tracks helped put “Mamma Mia” together. ABBA must have felt inspired to go back into the studio because the sequel “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” followed ten years later.

Inspiration carried into ABBA’s farewell album that came out in 2021. Opinions were different among fans. Some people were excited to have new music. Some fans felt disappointed.

Nonetheless, ABBA still showed that they could make great songs. UK Telegraph’s Neil McCormick said Ulvaeus and Andersson “have not lost their ability to craft a flowing melody adorned with glittering hooks.”

What else is there to say, but Gracias Por La Música ABBA!

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