43. ABBA – ‘Waterloo’ (1974)

“And how could I ever refuse?
I feel like I win when I lose”

Written by Benny Andersson/Stig Anderson/Bjorn Ulvaeus

Produced by Benny Andersson/Bjorn Ulvaeus

Taken from the album Waterloo

Also released on Greatest Hits, The Singles: The First Ten Years, ABBA Live, ABBA Gold: The Greatest Hits, Thank You For The Music, The Definitive Collection, The Complete Studio Recordings, 18 Hits and Number Ones

UK #1, AUS #4, US #6

I think I’m going to being teaching a course called “How To Write A Pop Song”, and then when hundreds upon hundreds of people sign up to hear someone they don’t know yap on about how to write songs, I’m just going to play everyone ‘Waterloo’ on big speakers. And then I’ll play it again, and then lunch, and then again. And then I’ll tell them all to return next week for more ‘Waterloo’. And you know they’ll all be back.

For all the bucketloads of amazing songs put out during ABBA’s career, they never really bettered the first single to bring them international recognition. The winner of the Eurovision Song Contest and then a suprise American hit, ‘Waterloo’ began the whole ABBA phenomenon and pushed them onto a level of stardom they could never have imagined while they were all going about their seperate solo careers in Sweden. One minute they were Benny & Bjorn, Agnetha & Anni-Frid or whatever the hell that name was and then suddenly they were ABBA.

‘Waterloo’ represents the two sides of ABBA quite nicely. On the one hand, it is the jangliest, catchiest, sing-a-longiest song in their whole discography. On the other hand, if you listen to the lyrics, you guessed it, it’s melancholy city. “How could I ever refuse? I feel like I win when I lose” is one of the all-time best crying at the discoteque lines, made all the more heartbreaking (and not to mention creepy) by the plastered smiles on the faces of all concerned. It’s like they have no idea what they’re singing, and maybe that innocence is what made ABBA so popular in their early days. Of course, I’m talking bullshit, what made them popular was how fun it is to go “WAH WAH WAH WAH WATERLOO” while this song is on.

Hilariously crap performance of ‘Waterloo’ containing unknown floor object, Bjorn’s horrible mullet (years later worn in red by Frida), Benny not doing much:

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