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ABBA

The most commercially successful pop group of the 1970s, the origins of the Swedish superstars ABBA dated back to 1966, whenkeyboardist and vocalist Benny Andersson, a onetime member of the popular beat outfit the Hep Stars, first teamed with guitarist andvocalist Bjorn Ulvaeus, the leader of the folk-rock unit the Hootenanny Singers. The two performers began composing songs together andhandling session and production work for Polar Music/Union Songs, a publishing company owned by Stig Anderson, himself a prolificsongwriter throughout the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, both Andersson a ...read more

The most commercially successful pop group of the 1970s, the origins of the Swedish superstars ABBA dated back to 1966, whenkeyboardist and vocalist Benny Andersson, a onetime member of the popular beat outfit the Hep Stars, first teamed with guitarist andvocalist Bjorn Ulvaeus, the leader of the folk-rock unit the Hootenanny Singers. The two performers began composing songs together andhandling session and production work for Polar Music/Union Songs, a publishing company owned by Stig Anderson, himself a prolificsongwriter throughout the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, both Andersson and Ulvaeus worked on projects with their respectivegirlfriends: Ulvaeus had become involved with vocalist Agnetha Faltskog, a performer with a recent number one Swedish hit, "I Was So inLove," under her belt, while Andersson began seeing Anni-Frid Lyngstad, a one-time jazz singer who rose to fame by winning a nationaltalent contest.

In 1971, Faltskog ventured into theatrical work, accepting the role of Mary Magdalene in a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's JesusChrist Superstar; her cover of the musical's "Don't Know How to Love Him" became a significant hit. The following year, the duo ofAndersson and Ulvaeus scored a massive international hit with "People Need Love," which featured Faltskog and Lyngstad on backingvocals. The record's success earned them an invitation to enter the Swedish leg of the 1973 Eurovision song contest, where, under theunwieldy name of Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida, they submitted "Ring Ring," which proved extremely popular with audiences but placed onlythird in the judges' ballots.

The next year, rechristened ABBA (a suggestion from Stig Anderson and an acronym of the members' first names), the quartet submittedthe single "Waterloo," and became the first Swedish act to win the Eurovision competition. The record proved to be the first of manyinternational hits, although the group hit a slump after their initial success as subsequent singles failed to chart. In 1975, however, ABBAissued "S.O.S.," a smash not only in America and Britain but also in non-English speaking countries such as Spain, Germany and theBenelux nations, where the group's success was fairly unprecedented. A string of hits followed, including "Mamma Mia," "Fernando," and"Dancing Queen" (ABBA's sole U.S. chart-topper), further honing their lush, buoyant sound; by the spring of 1976, they were already inposition to issue their first Greatest Hits collection.

ABBA's popularity continued in 1977, when both "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and "The Name of the Game" dominated airwaves. The groupalso starred in the feature film ABBA -- The Movie, which was released in 1978. That year Andersson and Lyngstad married, as hadUlvaeus and Faltskog in 1971, although the latter couple separated a few months later; in fact, romantic suffering was the subject of manysongs on the quartet's next LP, 1979's Voulez-Vous. Shortly after the release of 1980s Super Trouper, Andersson and Lyngstad divorcedas well, further straining the group dynamic; The Visitors, issued the following year, was the final LP of new ABBA material, and the foursomeofficially disbanded after the December 1982 release of their single "Under Attack..

Although all of the group's members soon embarked on new projects -- both Lyngstad and Faltskog issued solo LPs, while Andersson andUlvaeus collaborated with Tim Rice on the musical Chess -- none proved as successful as the group's earlier work, largely becausethroughout much of the world, especially Europe and Australia, the ABBA phenomenon never went away. Repackaged hits compilations andlive collections continued hitting the charts long after the group's demise, and new artists regularly pointed to the quartet's inspiration:while the British dance duo Erasure released a covers collection, ABBA. esque, an Australian group called Bjorn Again found success asABBA impersonators. In 1993, "Dancing Queen" became a staple of U2's "Zoo TV" tour -- Andersson and Ulvaeus even joined the Irishsuperstars on-stage in Stockholm -- while the 1995 feature Muriel's Wedding, which won acclaim for its depiction of a lonely Australian girlwho seeks refuge in ABBA's music, helped bring the group's work to the attention of a new generation of moviegoers and music fans. « hide

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LPs
The Visitors
1981

3.5
32 Votes
Super Trouper
1980

3.7
33 Votes
Voulez-Vous
1979

3.8
30 Votes
The Album
1977

3.8
31 Votes
Arrival
1977

3.7
45 Votes
ABBA
1975

3.4
27 Votes
Waterloo
1974

3.3
34 Votes
Ring Ring
1973

3.2
24 Votes
Compilations
More Gold: More Hits
1993

3.3
2 Votes
ABBA Gold
1992

3.9
120 Votes
Greatest Hits Vol. 2
1979

4
3 Votes
Greatest Hits
1976

3.6
10 Votes

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