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Possibly the best loved Eurovision song of them all, Waterloo was Abba's second crack at the title. In 1973 they entered the Swedish heats with Ring Ring, only to come third. This didn't stop the song from becoming a moderate European hit, though, and they approached 1974's contest with renewed vigour.
Song facts
Composer Bjorn Ulvaeus/Benny Andersson
Genre Pop
Album Waterloo
Released 1974
UK Chart 1

By this time, the group had adopted the name ABBA, after their initials. It had been felt that their original name (Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida) would prove too unwieldy. However, Abba was also the name of a Swedish canned fish manufacturer, so permission had to be sought first. Happily, they saw the appeal of their name being used by an international pop group.

The song was developed in late 1973 under the working title of 'Honey Pie'. Always mindful of current trends, the arrangement was heavily influenced by the contemporary glam rock, in particular Roy Wood's 'See My Baby Jive'. As such, it's something of a 'wall of sound', with massed banks of saxophones and heavily reverbed guitars.

Like most Abba songs, 'Waterloo' is tightly structured, and doesn't hang around before getting to the chorus. That Abba weren't native English speakers explains the occasionally clunky lyrics, but it was also recorded in Swedish, German and, ironically, French versions, maximising its chart potential across Europe.

Remarkably, the single's massive success initially proved hard to repeat - it would be another year and a half before they had another hit with S.O.S. Thereafter, however, Abba would dominate 70s pop, with Benny and Bjorn becoming one of the most successful songwriting partnerships in history.

Benny and Bjorn talk about Waterloo
Abba songwriter's Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus reveal why they took the Eurovison route in 1974:- "We were mainly in to show ourselves, to show people that there was a band up in Sweden that can write pop music not Eurovision Song Contest music".


Other versions
 80s girly trio Bananarama lent their vocal talents to a unique version of Abba's first UK hit on a A Song For Eurotrash compilation in 1998.

I was so glad that we finally had a great Eurovision song

Amelia, Bucks

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