Was ABBA popular before Mamma Mia

Mamma Mia - how a Swedish band shaped pop music

The Swedish band ABBA celebrated great success around the world, especially in the 1970s. Credit: Photo by Andrew Ebrahim via Unsplash

From Sweden to the whole world: The home country of IKEA has produced a number of well-known personalities who make the lives of many people better, more colorful and simply more beautiful. Whether artist, entrepreneur or writer, we would like to introduce you to some of these fascinating people in loose order. This time there are four people who are certainly among the most famous Swedes: Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid - better known as ABBA.

Back then on vinyl, today on Spotify. Credit: Danica Tanjutco via Unsplash

Popular every decade

When I think of famous exports from Sweden, the first thing that comes to mind (of course) is IKEA. Immediately afterwards the melody of “Dancing Queen” hums through my head, closely followed by “Mamma Mia”. For me, ABBA is the epitome of a pop band from the 1970s - and although the band de facto no longer existed when I was born, I was always able to identify with the music. Is that because my parents had some of the band's records at home and I danced around the living room as a child? Quite possible, but like me, millions of people have been around the world since the group was founded. And that's still the case today: Which band can say of themselves that they have their own (and very successful) museum? In May 2013 the ABBA Museum opened in Stockholm - an interactive exhibition for young and old, in which you can experience the biggest hits thanks to virtual reality - even if you may not have been into the world at that time. And the numbers speak for themselves: with over 375 million records sold and a musical that has already been performed in 19 countries, ABBA is one of the most successful bands in music history.

Swedish newspapers reported on the band's success and how they stormed the charts with their hit Waterloo.

From Sweden all over the world

But who is actually behind the four letters and where does their - still lasting - popularity come from? The band was founded in 1972 by Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus as well as Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Two women, two men - in real life also two married couples. This story could not have been imagined more beautifully. And even if the love passed again and the divorces followed, the group remained as a band. Björn and Benny had already met in 1966, a little later Agnetha and Anni-Frid joined them, who were already successful as solo singers. The band experienced their international breakthrough when they won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with the song "Waterloo". From then on, one hit followed the next, tours around the world and in Australia and Great Britain people even spoke of the "Abbamania". The group was also very popular in their home country of Sweden, but also had to deal with criticism: their music is often too shallow, do not criticize - it is too commercial. But this could be exactly one reason why so many people ultimately like the music: It is emotional, rhythmic and simply puts you in a good mood. And: The two minds behind the songs, Benny and Björn, may have composed many world hits in their careers, but they cannot read sheet music themselves. They bet that the melodies were catchy and stuck in my head - so it's no wonder that I start singing straight away when the keyword "ABBA" comes up.

In Germany, too, ABBA had a large fan base and many number 1 hits.Of course, ABBA is also immortalized in Madame Tussauds' famous wax figure exhibition.

(Not) a comeback?

After very successful years, which were also marked by private crises, the quartet appeared together for the last time on Swedish breakfast television in December 1982 - they talked about wanting to “take a break”. This break would mean the end of Sweden's most famous band. Despite many rumors of possible comebacks, the group never got back together as such for any length of time - allegedly they even turned down a $ 1 billion offer for a world tour in 2000. But that still doesn't detract from the fascination with the band and fuels the desire of many to see ABBA on stage again. Most recently, this also showed the idea of ​​a unique hologram tour: As early as 2018, NBC and BBC produced a TV show with holograms by the artists from 1979. Even if a possible start has been postponed again and again, the interest of the media and fans is still big.

Until then, we have films, the musical and museum, and of course the songs. Even today, the ABBA hits are on my good mood playlist - but no longer on records, but now on Spotify.

Have we aroused your desire for Sweden? Here you can find the first part of our Swedish language course.