Two 1970s songs by the Swedish quartet that feature in the new musical comedy have been rewritten, seemingly to make them less offensive and avoid hinting at inappropriate relationships between men and young girls.
The words to The Name of the Game and When I Kissed the Teacher have been altered for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which opened in cinemas on Friday.
In The Name of the Game, from 1977, the words have been changed from “I’m a bashful child, beginning to grow” to “I’m a curious child, beginning to grow”.
But the biggest rewrite comes in the 1976 song When I Kissed the Teacher, about a female student who has a crush on her male teacher.
The original version contains the lines “One of these days, gonna tell him I dream of him every night, One of these days, gonna show him I care. Gonna teach him a lesson alright.”
The teacher’s gender has been changed for the new film, and the track altered.
The new lines are: “What a mad day, now I see everything in a different light.
“What a mad day, I was up in the air. And she taught me a lesson alright.”
It is sung in the new movie by Lily James, who plays lead character Donna Sheridan, with Celia Imrie as the teacher. Abba star Björn Ulvaeus, who co-wrote the songs and worked on the musicals with bandmate Benny Andersson, said the teacher was made female so she could sing a response without needing a “horrible” key change.
“She had to be a woman. Simple as that,” he said. “And why wouldn’t the vice-chancellor be a woman?”
Abba biographer Carl Magnus Palm said: “I don’t think it’s important for the songs to stay in tune with the current climate. But if they need to tweak the lyrics to make them work better in Mamma Mia! then so be it.”
Former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read added: “Rock ’n’ roll was founded on young love and you can’t rewrite history. But you can see why people have started looking at songs and asked, ‘Should we still be playing that?’ ”
But some fans took to social media to voice their annoyance at the changes.
One said: “Seriously, trying to make a classic song PC.” Nick Freeman tweeted: “Can’t wait to see new Mamma Mia film. But if you’re a PC-loving liberalist, be warned if you sit near me in the cinema. I’ll be singing the original lyrics. Badly.”
Others praised the decision.
“I was glad,” wrote one. “The original lyrics would not fly today, especially where if it were a man. He’d be jailed in a heartbeat.”
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again comes a decade after the original hit, starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Pierce Brosnan. Mamma Mia! took more than £453 million worldwide and was the highest grossing film of all time at the UK box office – knocking Titanic off the top spot.
Streep has starred in more than 50 films, won three Oscars and is widely considered to be the best actress of her generation, but Mamma Mia! remains her biggest box office hit.
The sequel reunites the original stars and also sees Cher, James and Andy Garcia join the cast.