Passions: As Eurovision is looming, it’s time, 50 years on, to thank Abba for the music

With Sweden hosting this year, thoughts turn to the 70s Super Troupers

My my. It’s Eurovision month with the grand final taking place on Saturday 11th May in Malmo, Sweden where Olly Alexander will fly the flag for the UK with his song Dizzy. But my mind turns back to events 50 years ago in 1974 when Eurovision came to Brighton and Abba took the crown and the hearts of an audience who have loved them since the first time they heard that thumping piano intro and then the pure harmonies of Agnetha and Anni-Frid. Despite their impact on music and popular culture over the past five decades, the group was only together for ten years.

It’s kind of hard to imagine now with the success of Abba Voyage in London, the first virtual concert residency of its kind, featuring avatars of the fab four as they appeared in 1979, but there was a time in the late 80s and early 90s when Abba were deeply uncool and loyal fans could be mocked for their unwavering devotion. Yet when Abba-esque, an EP from Erasure in 1992 which featured the synth-pop duo’s take on Abba tracks including Voulez Vous and Lay All Your Love on Me went to number one in the UK and across Europe it proved the fanbase was still there, just waiting for Britpop and grunge to go away please. Or maybe they could all co-exist as when Abba Gold the Greatest Hits compilation was released in September 1992 it sold 30 million copies making it the best-selling Abba album, as well one of the best-selling albums worldwide.

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Mamma Mial! the Musical was first performed in 1999, followed by the first film in 2008. In between the Queen of Pop got involved with Madonna sampling the instrumental introduction to Abba’s single Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) for Hung Up in 2005. You can visit the Abba Museum in Stockholm which opened in 2013, with the experience promising that you walk in and dance out. The group have been offered millions to reform for one off gigs but all inducements have been turned down. Could they be persuaded to do something special for the 50th anniversary of their Eurovision win, with the competition held in Sweden? I’m holding my breath. But even if we just get to enjoy a montage of memories it will still be enough for fans to say together, Thank you for the music.

​Alison Gray is Assistant Editor of The Scotsman

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