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L to R: Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad, and Benny Andersson

"It was very unfashionable to like ABBA at that time. Their songs are beautifully crafted and the production was always immaculate, everything beautifully tuned in time, and the girls' voices were fabulous."

ABBA is a Swedish pop quartet composed of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad.

There's quite a long story behind their name, actually. The band was originally known, rather awkwardly, as "Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid". This is the banner under which they released their first few singles and debut album Ring Ring. Afterwards, the name "ABBA" was coined, partially as an acronym of the group's first names, and also as something as a joke, because Abba was also the name of a Swedish fish-canning company. Since the company was pretty much unknown outside of Sweden, it was thought that the name would work on international markets. The group had to ask for permission to use the name.note 

In 1970, the group traveled around Sweden and Denmark as a cabaret revue called "Festfolket" (Party People). Audiences preferred their singing to their comedy skits. They first shot to international attention in 1974 by winning the Eurovision Song Contest with "Waterloo". Rapid success followed over the next few years in Europe and Australia and (to a lesser degree) the United States with a run of huge hits like "Dancing Queen", "Fernando" and "Mamma Mia". The fact that the band consisted of two Creator Couples didn't hurt. A European and Australian tour in 1977 led to a feature film and massive sell-out concerts.

By the end of the decade, the group had matured artistically, moving away from the light-hearted songs of the early years and towards heavier themes. Internal affairs had turned Darker and Edgier as well: Agnetha and Björn divorced in 1980; Benny and Frida followed suit a year later. "The Winner Takes It All", a bittersweet ballad about the end of a romance (generally assumed to be based on Agnetha and Björn's divorce) is considered by many to be the artistic peak of the group.

ABBA did not officially break up — and despite the two divorces, all four members remained friends — but by 1983, they had essentially dissolved. The former members would go on to have mixed careers and, despite occasional joint public appearances, refrained from getting back together despite a reported offer in 2000 of $1,000,000,000 (yes, you read that right, that's a billion dollars) to do a reunion tour consisting of 100 concerts. However, in June 2016, Frida and Agnetha reunited to perform one song ("The Way Old Friends Do") at a party to celebrate Benny and Björn's fifty years of friendship. In 2018, the band stunned fans with the announcement that they had reunited for the recording of two new songs, "I Still Have Faith In You" and "Don't Shut Me Down". These tracks would eventually be released in 2021 as the lead singles of that November's Voyage, their first album of new material in 39 years; the following year, this album got a concert in a purpose-built venue called the ABBA Arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park featuring virtual avatars of the band. Although Benny and Björn have stated they believe Voyage will ultimately be their final album as a foursome, Frida has suggested that she could be convinced to return for another.

And in terms of popular culture, ABBA never went away. Their music remained popular, selling steadily, and formed the background for the 1994 Australian Cult Classic Muriel's Wedding (ABBA has always been especially huge in the Land Down Under). More directly, Benny and Björn collaborated three times in the realm of musical theater — first with lyricist Tim Rice on Chess, and later in the creation of Mamma Mia!, a stage musical based around ABBA songs. The musical, opening first in London in 1999 and later in New York in 2001, has proved enormously popular with global audiences. In 2008, a movie version was released staring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan and Amanda Seyfried (who, at 22, was born well after the group dissolved). That film was such a smash hit that it made $100+ million before it opened in North America, and later spawned an original theatrical sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, which released in 2018. Their third stage musical is called Kristina from Duvemåla (or just Kristina for short) and is based on the literary epic by Vilhelm Moberg about a group of people who emigrate from Sweden to America in the mid-19th century. The musical was a massive success in Sweden and remains one of the most popular musicals of all time there. It's been translated into English but has not been performed other than in concert. Many fans of the original Swedish version are highly critical of the English translation, citing a huge decrease in the quality of the lyrics, which might have played a role in the show not being brought properly to an English-speaking stage.

Studio discography:

ABBA songs with music videos:

Other created and related spin-off works

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  • The '60s: An odd example in that, while the band wasn't formed until 1972, their early output (especially pre-Waterloo) was very reminiscent of the era; songs such as "People Need Love" and "He Is Your Brother" wouldn't have sounded out of place during the Summer of Love. Not to mention their appearance during that time.
  • The '70s: They were active during most of the decade, and their signature look represents a good overwiew at the fashion trends of the time. Not to mention that they are sometimes referred to as a Disco band, even though they only had one album that prominently featured said genre (Voulez-Vous).
  • The '80s: While they disbanded relatively early in the decade (1982), their last music videos were already showing what would become the fashion trends of the decade hard. The girls' outfits for the music video of "Head Over Heels" were worthy of Dynasty, while the band's clothing on their final video, "Under Attack", had them looking like they could be extras from Miami Vice.
  • Accidental Misnaming:
    • While Frida's name was often misspelled (see Spell My Name With An S below), Agnetha was lucky if she ever encountered a non-Scandinavian who could correctly pronounce her first or last name. When asked, she would pronounce her first name as AHGH-nyeh-TAH. She seemed to accept the pronunciation ahgh-NYEH-tah, which probably sounded better to her than ag-NEE-thuh, which a lot of English-speaking interviewers called her. (She deserves some of the blame for this. During her solo career before ABBA, she added an h to her given name, which was "Agneta", the standard spelling of the name.) In their early days, the group's promotional material called her "Anna", but that led to some confusion between her and Anni-Frid. And using her middle name — Åse (pronounced OH-szeh) — likely wouldn't have helped. Her last name is pronounced FELT-skoog.
    • Frida's last name was also commonly mispronounced, but she never tried to correct anybody. Most people said "LING-stad". The proper pronunciation falls somewhere between "LYOONGH-shtahd" and "LYEENGH-shtahd". (Is it any wonder why she never tried to correct anybody?)
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The Ring Ring album wasn't released in the UK during the band's lifespan, resulting in many people being unaware of its existence. Their Greatest Hits compilation of 1975 therefore was the first UK release of a number of singles from the album. This was resolved by simply omitting the information of them being from an album, which led buyers to think they were new songs. To make matters more confusing, the song "Ring Ring" appeared as a bonus track on the UK release of Waterloo.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head:
    • Done by Frida to Agnetha in this video.
    • Frida also does it to Björn in the "Head Over Heels" video, though it's meant to be more condescending than affectionate.
  • A God Am I: "I Am The City".
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Children fathered by German soldiers were shunned in Norway, to the point where it was grounds for incarceration and abuse towards them was common. Because of this, Frida was taken out of her native Norway by her grandmother, Arntine, who took her to Sweden.
  • Ambiguous Ending:
    • "Mamma Mia" ends without revealing if the protagonist finally realized it was a bad relationship and left for good or couldn't help herself and just fell into the cycle of breaking up and getting back together all over again.
    • invoked"The Day Before You Came" says nothing about what happens when the "You" arrives. The gloomy music and dispassionate delivery may suggest that whoever or whatever the "you" is, its arrival didn't make the narrator's life any better. Wordof God confirms the narrator has been abandoned by her lover, forcing her to revert to life as it "must have been" before she met him.
  • Animal Stereotypes: Sort of; in some videos (notably "Eagle") Frida and Agnetha wear dresses with the images of a fox and a rabbit on them, respectively. There are 2 other more famous dresses, which have a yellow cat and a blue cat, but that is more a case of Color-Coded for Your Convenience. (You can see the cat dresses in the "S.O.S." video.)
  • Anti-Love Song: "Should I Laugh Or Cry?"
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Check out Frida and Benny getting on each other's nerves in the "Summer Night City" video.
  • Bittersweet 17: "Dancing Queen". The lyrics suggest how that being 17 is the key to being free in dance, and yet can also be interpreted as retrospectively wishing the singer could be 17, despite how peppy it is:
    You are the dancing queen,
    Young and sweet, only seventeen.
    You can dance, you can jive,
    Having the time of your life!
  • Book Ends
    • The "Knowing Me, Knowing You" video begins and ends with the shot of the same wintry landscape.
    • The "Fernando" video begins and ends with the shot of a campfire.
    • The first and last music video in the ABBA Gold DVD is Dancing Queen.
    • The "Mamma Mia!" video begins and ends with a shot of a piano then a close up of Björn's hand playing guitar.
  • Break-Up Song: Many.
    • Famous examples include "The Winner Takes It All" and "Knowing Me, Knowing You".
    • "When All Is Said And Done", however, manages to mix this trope and Hakuna Matata.
    • "Chiquitita" is about someone comforting a younger person following a soul-crushing event implied to be a break-up.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: ABBA never liked touring because it took time away from writing new songs, which is why they relied more on music videos and TV appearances. Agnetha also has an intense fear of flying which led to a lot of problems for her with touring.
  • Broken Ace: Agnetha.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Frida has half-German, half-Norwegian ancestry, but was raised and identifies as Swedish.
  • Cassandra Truth: "Cassandra" is actually about the mythological character who is the Trope Namer, who predicts the Trojan war but no one believes her.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: "Super Trouper"
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Their last album was dark. Of course, considering what was going on with them, this is totally justified. One critic even favorably compared it to Ingmar Bergman films.
  • Christmas Songs:
    • "Happy New Year" was supposed to be this at the production stage, but was changed to a New Year's song for some reason.
    • "Little Things" is about waking up on Christmas morning.
  • Class Princess: implied in "Dancing Queen", as the girl in question would obviously have to be popular to be the prom queen, and she's described as "young and sweet.
  • Clip Show:
    • The video for "Lay All Your Love On Me".
    • While the video of "That's Me" features some original footage of Agnetha and Frida singing, it's mostly composed of clips from previous videos, such as "Knowing Me Knowing You" and "Money, Money, Money".
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Agnetha is a dark version. See Groupie Brigade.
  • Concept Album: Most of ABBA: The Album's second side is devoted to a three-part suite "The Girl With The Golden Hair". There are three other progressive tracks on the LP, these being "Eagle", "The Name Of The Game" and "Hole In Your Soul", which suggests that the Björn & Benny were listening to a lot of prog at the time.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • In the "Head Over Heels" video, Frida bumps into director Lasse Hallström (the guy in the puffy blue coat).
    • Benny and Björn appeared in the movie version of Mamma Mia!.note 
    • Benny and Björn also appeared in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Benny as a restaurant piano player, and Björn as an Oxford professor.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Agnetha was rarely a flashy dancer. This is because, according to her own words, she didn't have as much control over her body as Frida did. There are many fans who describe her dancing as definitely clumsy. Less subjectively, she has also claimed that she can't drive boats without crashing them on the dock and she's bad with computers.
  • Day in the Life: "The Day Before You Came".
  • Dead All Along: Some think the protagonist of "The Day Before You Came" is this.
  • Disappeared Dad: Frida didn't meet her father til she was in her 30s.
    • Missing Mom: Her mother also died when Frida was a toddler; she was raised by her grandmother.
  • "Double, Double" Title: They were fond of these. "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)", "Honey, Honey", "Money, Money, Money", "Andante, Andante", "On and On and On", "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do". There are several other songs which come close, such as "Knowing Me, Knowing You", "My Love, My Life", "One Man, One Woman", and "Another Town, Another Train".
  • Double Meaning: Their 2021 comeback single, "Don't Shut Me Down", has lyrics that can be taken as a Silly Love Song, or as an open letter to their fans who have been waiting for decades to hear them sing again (e.g.: "You asked me not to leave, well here I am again."). Some of the lyrics can also refer to their planned "Voyage" virtual tour where they will use digital avatars ("And now you see another me, I've been reloaded.")
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Their early material is more in the vein of rock, ballads (encompassing several genres such as '60s soft-rock and Latin, which the group would largely abandon following their third album) and showtunes, and often featured Björn or Benny on lead vocals. Later on they'd go in a more pop and disco direction, with Björn only taking one lead vocal per album from their third album onwards (and not on Super Trouper at all).
  • Europop: Their music is one of the main examples of the genre.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: When the average person thinks of ABBA, said person will surely think of sparkly costumes. This was actually intentional on the band's part, as they discovered a loophole in Swedish tax law that stated musicians could write-off the cost of their outfits if they were deemed too lurid and outlandish to wear in public outside performances.
  • Faux Documentary: ABBA: The Movie.
  • Fiery Redhead: Frida while in Australia.
  • Flashback Fail: The narrator of "The Day Before You Came" went through the day in question on autopilot, to the extent that she doesn't actually have any clear memory of it. She just knows that she didn't deviate from her normal routine to any great degree and so prefaces almost every "memory" with "I must have..." or words to that effect.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Frida is sanguine, Björn is choleric, Agnetha is melancholic and Benny is phlegmatic.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Björn and Benny, right after ABBA broke up, gave us this quote: "Who are we without our ladies? Initials of Brigitte Bardot?"
  • Fun with Palindromes: Notable for being the only case of a group with a palindromic name having a hit with a song with a palindromic title ("S.O.S.").

  • Gaussian Girl: Agnetha and Frida during the "Take a Chance on Me" video. Also used to a lesser extent in "When All Is Said And Done".
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: 2 guys, 2 girls
  • Genki Girl: Frida on the stage. She keeps moving and jumping and she just looks so darned happy during it.
  • Genre Roulette: The Waterloo album, which has rock & roll ("Waterloo", "King Kong Song"), reggae ("Sitting In The Palmtree"), '60s jazz-pop ("My Mama Said") schlager (The Latin-tinged "Hasta Manana", as well as "Dance Whilst The Music Goes On"), Motown-inspired pop ("Honey Honey") metal ("Watch Out"), a children's song ("What About Livingstone"), a dramatic ballad ("Gonna Sing You My Love Song") and folk-rock ("Suzy Hang Around"). The group said that they wrote all of the album's songs as potential Eurovision entries, though ultimately decided to go with their favorite ("Waterloo") which was praised for NOT copying the trends of the time.
  • Gold Digger:
    • The millionaire's young girlfriend in "Man in the Middle" is accused of being this by the song.
    • Frida's character in "Money Money Money" considers it for a moment.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: "Should I Laugh Or Cry" retains its original Swedish count-in of 'en, två, en två, tre' (one, two, one, two, three). Originally this was only present on the UK and South African 'One Of Us' singles due to them being sent the wrong tapes (being edited off elsewhere), but Björn and Benny liked the effect and decided to Throw It In! when the remasters were released.
  • Gratuitous French: The chorus of "Voulez-Vous" features the line "La question c'est 'voulez vous'" note 
  • Gratuitous Spanish: "Chiquitita", "Hasta Mañana", and "Andante Andante" run on this trope.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Several, actually, the most famous being ABBA Gold.
  • Grief Song: "Slipping Through My Fingers", "The Winner Takes It All".
  • Groupie Brigade: Certainly in ABBA: The Movie. So much Truth in Television, in fact, that Agnetha later admitted she is alarmed by ABBA fans, to the point that she'd have daydreams in which fans would jump on her, tear her to pieces, and consume her alive.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Agnetha's image. Also the main protagonist of "The Girl With Golden Hair".
  • Henpecked Husband: Oddly enough, Björn played this as Frida's exhausted boyfriend in the "Head Over Heels" video. He reluctantly follows Frida around on her shopping trip and is forced to carry her bags.
  • Heroic Bastard: Frida. (Also the band's manager, Stig Anderson).
  • Hot for Teacher: "When I Kissed The Teacher" tells a story of a student who has a crush on her teacher and one day cannot restrain herself and kisses him.
  • How We Got Here: The "Knowing Me, Knowing You" video starts with footprints on a snowy landscape and through the video we realize that it was made by Agnetha and Frida.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: In the lyrics to "Mamma Mia":
    Look at me now, will I ever learn?
    I don't know how but I suddenly lose control
  • "I Am" Song:
    • "Thank You For The Music"
    • Played for laughs in "I Am an A". The lyrics were written by the whole band as a collective. Sung only during the Australian '77 tour, it was never put on an album.
    • "I Am The City"
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: "I Wonder"
  • If I Were a Rich Man: "Money Money Money" is all about this.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: A lot in their early days, like Björn's "Waterloo" costume which was so tight he couldn't sit down.
  • Instrumentals: "Arrival" and "Intermezzo No. 1".
  • Intercourse with You:
    • "Andante Andante", although it's said to actually be about playing the piano.
    • "Honey, Honey" — sung moaning sounds (actually, heavy breathing) and implied larger-than-normal endowment.
    • "Kisses of Fire"
    • "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do" can be read as a song about a wedding night, or about romantic sex in general.
  • "I Want" Song: "I Have A Dream".
  • Jailbait Taboo: "Does Your Mother Know" is about a guy in a dance club who realizes that the girl flirting with him is (probably) underage. He's still willing to flirt and talk with her, though, but he's careful not to let things get too far.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: "Me and I".
    I am to myself what Jekyll must have been to Hyde
  • Jukebox Musical: Mamma Mia is currently the sixth longest-running show still on Broadway.
  • Kids Are Cruel:
    • "Suzy Hang-Around" was about ten-year-old boys mocking a younger girl for daring to consider that she was One of the Boys.
    • Seemingly subverted with "Me and Bobby and Bobby's Brother", which appears to describe a positive and largely friendly (if not perfect) childhood friendship, although the slow, wistful tone of the song may imply that the singer (implicitly a reminiscing adult) is interpreting the song's content through a personal (and therefore more tenaciously reliable) Nostalgia Filter.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The group's final album The Visitors is one of the most infamous (and acclaimed) examples in pop history thanks to directly veering into darker and more sullen synthpop territory (to the extent where even the more upbeat songs bore gloomier undertones and musical elements), a style which none of their previous more disco-oriented albums had touched upon. Naturally, while much of the group's previous tone and aesthetic were a victim of the infamous disco backlash by the time of the album's release in 1981, this caught many of the group's established fans off-guard and led to its unflattering accolade as the most swapped-in of ABBA's studio albums.
  • "Leaving the Nest" Song: "Slipping Through My Fingers" is sung from the perspective of a mother lamenting that her daughter has grown up so fast, and as the daughter goes off to school, the mother regrets the lack of time they have spent together.
  • Lemony Narrator: Agnetha for "Head Over Heels".
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Three guesses, no prizes. Also counts as a Hair-Contrast Duo.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • Downplayed with the "Super Trouper beams are gonna blind me...", since the narrator's lover will be there to see her perform that night.
    • And what to say of the girls donning white clothes and blonde wigs while singing "I'm A Marionette"?
    • The combination of a squeaky-clean and family-friendly image with loads of Lyrical Dissonance and What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? means the concept of ABBA as a whole fits this trope incredibly well.
  • Limited Wardrobe: ABBA might be known for their unusual costumes, but a number of performances do show some of the outfits being reused (most noticeable comparing "Ring Ring" and "Honey, Honey" as well as "Thank You For The Music" and "Eagle".)
  • Live Album: The patchy ABBA Live was released in 1986, featuring live performances of songs from 1977, 1979 and the Dick Cavett special in 1981 re-dubbed for the 80s. It has fallen out of favour with fans since a higher-quality album, "Live at Wembley Arena" was released in 2014.
  • Location Song: "Waterloo" only mentions the city incidentally as a metaphor for defeat, just how Napoleon was defeated there.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: If you go by the release dates of their singles, regardless of the band's name ("Ring Ring" was released in June 1972 when the band was called Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Frida; "Under Attack" was released in December 1982), they just managed to qualify as a Type One. If you go by their use of the name ABBA (adopted in late 1973), they just missed qualifying.
  • Love Makes You Stupid: "Mamma Mia!"
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "The Day Before You Came" and its video sound and look very mysterious, but the lyrics themselves (supposedly) describe a woman's mundane life before she met her lover, and implies that she now leads a more interesting life. That said, the song offers no description of what happens AFTER she meets him; anything could have happened afterwards really. Word of God says her lover abandoned her, forcing her to return to her old life, which she now recognises was repetitious and meaningless.
    • There are many, many examples of ABBA songs with sad lyrics and happy music. To list a few: "Ring Ring" (someone getting Stood Up as they hopefully wait all night for someone to call them), "Mamma Mia" (a couple that keep getting back together, despite constantly having affairs, many of which are implicitly huge mutual emotional detriments), "Super Trouper" (a famous singer who's homesick for their lover), "If It Wasn't for the Nights" (someone who dreads going home because it reminds them of their recent break-up), "Knowing Me, Knowing You" (divorce), "Angeleyes" (a woman spotting her womanizing ex with another girl), and perhaps "Waterloo".
    • "You Owe Me One" has incredibly silly, upbeat music, and yet features some of the darkest lyrics ever in the band's music, indicating a sign of being hopelessly doomed in a relationship. For instance, the first verse is: "Now there's a shadow falling over our faces, doubt forever in our hearts, And in a while we'll start to pick up the traces, we won't find the missing parts". Later on, they say "Something unwanted has entered our existence".
    • "Head Over Heels" goes in the opposite direction for the typical use of the trope. The music comes off in quite a creepy and ominous manner but the lyrics are merely a story about a self-assured woman and her Henpecked Husband.
  • Money Song: "Money Money Money".
  • Mood Whiplash: The hodgepodge of styles on the album Waterloo resulted in the hard rocking "Watch Out" being placed immediately between the bubblegum pop numbers "Honey Honey" and "What About Livingstone". Notably, the original CD release of the album swapped "Watch Out" and "Livingstone", though whether this was done intentionally is uncertain.
  • The Movie: ABBA: The Movie. Famed for its Excuse Plot (a guy running around to every Australian capital city trying to gain an in-depth interview with the band) and Troubled Production.
  • Mundane Utility: In "Cassandra", the titular character predicts the Trojan war, but no one believes her. She then leaves the country, but uses her power to predict when her ship is going to leave so she can take her time packing.

  • Noodle Incident: When being interviewed at the Rockbjörnen gala, Frida and Agnetha were asked what was a particularly special memory for them. Frida vaguely mentioned something about wigs and a sink.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: "The Name Of The Game" has literally no plot; doesn't stop it from being one of ABBA's best videos.
  • Oh, Crap!: In April, 1981, Dick Cavett went to Stockholm to tape an hour-long interview with the group. This was when they were barely speaking to each other, and about 18 months before their last TV appearance as a group. Cavett asked them if their fame had caused them to lose any friends. They sat there dumbfounded for almost 10 seconds before Björn finally forced himself to give an evasive answer.
  • Old Man Conversation Song: "Hej Gamle Man", a song recorded by Benny and Björn in 1970 with Frida and Agnetha on backing vocals.
  • Omniglot: Björn in the band's early years was already proficient enough in English and Spanish to handle the band's presentations in countries who spoke those languages. Frida is not quite up to his level, but besides Swedish she is fluent in English and French. She also reads widely, so it is possible she also understands other languages as well.
  • Once per Episode: The band's first two albums often featured Björn on lead vocal, but from their third onwards, he established Agnetha and/or Frida as lead vocalists, and generally only sang on one track per album. He doesn't sing lead on Super Trouper at all.
    • ABBA has "Man In The Middle" and "Rock Me"
    • Arrival has "Why Did It Have To Be Me"
    • The Album has him speaking the intro to "Move On" and duetting on "Hole In Your Soul".
    • Voulez Vous has "Does Your Mother Know", with "Summer Night City" also appearing as a bonus track.
    • The Visitors has "Two For The Price Of One".
  • One-Man Song: Fernando.
  • One-Woman Wail: Performed by Frida at the end of "The Day Before You Came".
  • Packaged as Other Medium: Both Gracias por la música (their compilation album of Spanish-language versions of their greatest hits) and the inner gatefold of ABBA: The Album are designed to look like an air mail envelope.
  • Painted-On Pants: Agnetha, Frida and Björn often wore these during their concerts.
  • Performance Video
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The gang dressed up in 18th-century clothes for the first public performance of "Dancing Queen" at the wedding festivities of Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf in 1976.
  • Precocious Crush: "Does Your Mother Know", a rare song with Bjorn taking the lead vocals instead of Agnetha or Frida, involves the singer trying to dissuade a girl with one of these on him.
  • Pretty in Mink: The girls wore some furs for some videos, including a fox coat in the video for "Money Money Money".
  • Rags to Royalty: Since 1992, Frida has been formally styled Princess Anni-Frid of Reuss, due to her marriage to a (now deceased) German prince. (She reportedly doesn't particularly like being addressed by her royal title, though.) She's also a close friend of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden (she reprised "Dancing Queen" for the Queen's 50th birthday gala in 1993, backed by the Swedish vocal jazz / A cappella ensemble The Real Group), and according to at least one source is a lady-in-waiting of the Queen. For the sake of hilarity, you can think of the rest of ABBA as Frida's "musical mice".
  • Rearrange the Song: The live version of "I'm a Marionette", performed on their 1977 tour of Europe, the UK and Australia, is starkly different to the version recorded later on for ABBA: The Album. The tempo is much faster (probably closer to 200 BPM while the album version is around 110), Benny's piano is more prominent, Agnetha and Frida's singing conveys more strain and panic, and the whole song has a more urgent feel.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Frida and Agnetha. Agnetha herself has said: "I don't want to hide the fact that Frida and I had opposite backgrounds, temperaments and personalities."
    • The outfits they wore in their early performances of "Waterloo" — both in the official video and in their performance at the Eurovision Song Contest — followed this trope. Ditto the video for "Chiquitita".
    • Inverted, oddly enough, when Agnetha dresses in red tones and Frida in blue/green in the "Take A Chance On Me" and "Eagle" videos respectively.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Agnetha, who continuously got the most attention from the West, particularly about her bottom.
  • Riding into the Sunset: A variation with the final shot of the group in their very last video "Under Attack" has them walking away from camera in a dark warehouse outside into the bright daylight.
  • The Rival: Tabloid-wanking aside, both girls have acknowledged that they did, in fact, compete on-stage for the audience's attention.

  • Sanity Slippage Song:
    • "I'm A Marionette", "Get on the Carousel", "Me and I", "The Visitors".
    • "You Owe Me One" has the narrator losing their mind frantically due to depression over a failing relationship, a fact captured by its upbeat as opposed to sad music for the lyrics. They hint that they'll have a breakdown if they don't go on holiday to the Bahamas to "get a break from their petty little dramas".
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: On songs where Agnetha and Frida share the lead, they often provide dual backing vocals as well. A good example is "Honey, Honey". If only one is singing lead, the other acts as a backing vocalist for the chorus (with a few exceptions).
  • Sensual Spandex: Frida's and Agnetha's costumes in 1979. They can be seen in the "Voulez-Vous" video.
  • Ship Tease: Even while the actual couples were still together, there was occasionally a bit of Benny/Agnetha and Björn/Frida flirting on stage.
    • Björn/Frida was especially played with during their duet performances of "Why Did It Have to Be Me?" in the 1977 tour, as can be seen in ABBA: The Movie. You can also see it in the video for "Head Over Heels", wherein Björn plays Frida's Henpecked Boyfriend who's dragged everywhere by Frida on her shopping trip and is forced to carry her purchases.
  • Shout-Out: "Don't Shut Me Down" uses the phrase "dream within a dream" from the Edgar Allan Poe poem of the same name.
  • Solo Side Project: Both Agnetha and Frida recorded solo albums while the group was still around.
    • Agnetha recorded two albums in Swedish: Elva kvinnor i ett hus in 1975 and Nu tändas tusen juleljus in 1980, this one with her daughter Linda Ulvaeus. She also recorded Never Again, a duet with Tomas Ledin released as a single in 1982.
    • Frida also recorded two albums in the meantime: Ensam in 1975, and Something's Going On in 1982, the first in Swedish and the latter in English.
  • Spell My Name With An S:
    • Frida's name was frequently misspelled, even at press conferences.
    • Double-s Andersson (Benny) vs. single-s Anderson (Stig).
    • Because the group's name is an acronym of their initials, it should be spelled "ABBA" (all caps), not "Abba" as is now common.
  • Spin-Off Babies: During the turn of the Millennium, there were the A-Teens. Originally a tribute band supposed to be called the ABBA Teens, their first album consisted solely of ABBA covers with more of a teen pop sheen. However, after that, they diverted into more original songs.
  • Spoken Word in Music: The beginning of "Move On".
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Agnetha to Frida. The latter was meant to be the star of the band, as brunettes are to Nordics what blondes are to pretty much the rest of the world. It begs the question: is Agnetha an Ensemble Dark Horse?
    • Interestingly, Frida is the only one to openly regret the fact that ABBA never had a reunion.
    • It should be noted that Frida had a more successful solo career than Agnetha post-ABBA. (Agnetha's popularity in Sweden before ABBA began probably rivalled that of many current pop stars including Britney Spears.)
  • Stage Names: Mild examples. "Frida" is Anni-Frid's nickname, but the name she is commonly referred to (post-ABBA releases just bill her as Frida). Benny Andersson was born Göran Andersson. Agnetha Fältskog was born Agneta Fältskog, but added the "h" just before her pre-ABBA solo career took off. Björn Ulvaeus was almost Björn Andersson, but Björn's father changed the family surname as he believed "Andersson" was too common. (And it would have confused the hell out of people thinking Benny and Björn were brothers, even though they may as well be!)
  • Stalker with a Crush:
    • Agnetha was stalked in the '90s. The guy said he was in love with her since he was 6. Interestingly, this actually turned into a relationship which lasted years! Awkwardly, years earlier, Agnetha had played a stalker in one of her solo videos, "I Won't Let You Go".
      • "I've Been Waiting for You" on their eponym album ABBA has several undertones of this, although the lyrics are left ambiguous whether Agnetha is only secretly crushing on the man or indeed considering making him agree he is in love with her and that he belongs to her.
      • "Take a Chance On Me" is about a female stalker telling the object of her adoration that she has the patience to wait for him while he sees other women. (Read the lyrics.) Agnetha and Frida sing the chorus together, but alternate singing solos in the verses. In the video, Agnetha plays it straight while Frida occasionally mugs and gyrates, possibly with the intent of portraying mental instability.
    • Also, one of ABBA's last songs "Under Attack" was about being stalked, and being in a constant state of fear because of it.
    • The song "Sitting in the Palm Tree" also qualifies. The narrator (aka Björn) climbs up a palm tree just to watch a girl through her window. Yep, totally not creepy at all...
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Björn sang lead on one or two songs on each of the early ABBA albums (the most well-known being "Rock Me" and "Does Your Mother Know"), though "Two for the Price of One" was his only lead vocal on the two later albums. Benny had one lead vocal in the band's entire career, "Suzy Hang-Around".
  • Stepford Smiler: Agnetha, type A. She never liked touring and had to battle a lot of phobias (including a fear of flying that wasn't helped by a near-disaster during their only U.S. tour when their plane made an emergency landing, resulting in a crash).
  • Supergroup: All four members of ABBA were famous musicians in Sweden before they formed the group. Benny was the keyboardist for the Hep Stars, a band described as the "Swedish Beatles". Björn was the frontman for the folk group The Hootenanny Singers, whose fame in Sweden could be compared to The Mamas & the Papas or The Byrds in the United States. Agnetha and Frida were both solo artists; Agnetha was arguably the most famous of the four going into ABBA, as she had racked up several hits in Sweden during the late '60s and early '70s with her own self-composed material. Frida was a jazz-pop singer influenced by Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee, and had a few minor hits, but her solo music was more critically acclaimed than commercially successful in Sweden.
  • Telephone Song: "Ring Ring" is about someone being Stood Up.
  • That Man Is Dead: Subverted in "Don't Shut Me Down".
    I'm not the one you knew
    I'm now and then combined
  • This Is No Time to Panic: The song "The Visitors" is about a dissident having a panic attack when (she believes) the Secret Police ring her doorbell.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Benny and Björn
    • Rutger Gunnarsson (bass) and Ola Brunkert (drummer). We don't blame you if you didn't know about them.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Frida would sometimes use more masculine clothes in comparison to Agnetha's more conventionally feminine looks. This became more pronounced during the band's last years, when Frida cut her hair short to the point that it looked worthy of a punk rocker. Interestingly enough, this was inverted with the outfits they are shown wearing in the video for "Happy New Year" (seen here), where Agnetha wore a suit, tie and pants (all pink), while Frida wore a purple suit with a pencil skirt.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The music video for "Tiger". Just watch.
  • Translated Cover Version: Besides the majority of their songs being in English, they also made Spanish-language versions of them. There's "Estoy Soñando", aka "I Have a Dream", "Felicidad", aka "Happy New Year", and "No Hay A Quien Culpar", aka "When All Is Said and Done", among others. An entire album of them singing in Spanish, produced for the South American market, was released in 1980.
  • Tron Lines: Some promotions for the ABBA Voyage virtual concerts depict the computer-rendered band members wearing black suits with colorful glowing lines (yellow for Björn, red for Agnetha, blue for Frida, orange for Benny).
  • Trope Codifier: ABBA was one of the bands that revolutionized the use of the music video. Before them, music videos simply consisted of filming the band performing their songs (or mimicking to perform them) as if the viewer was part of the audience. While the band's goal in changing the aesthetics of their music videos was initially to simply provide eye candy for the audience (their early music videos mostly consisting of ABBA doing dance routines in a studio), over time they would develop loose plots that turned the videos into stories.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The female protagonist of "The Day Before You Came" starts practically every description of her day with the phrase "I must have..." (For example, "I must have read the evening paper then" or "I must have lit my seventh cigarette at half past two"), indicating she thinks she did the event, but she's not quite sure. However, given some of the song's more dark interpretations, this isn't surprising.
  • Vocal Dissonance: The men were this to some. Björn, who was occasionally assumed as Ambiguously Gay (perhaps the wacky costumes didn't help), has a deeper voice than the bearded Benny.
  • War Is Glorious: "Fernando" is a reminiscence about how the singer's Glory Days were During the War, namely the Mexican-American war, even though they were on the losing side.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: The chief debate raised by What About Livingstone? on the group's early album Waterloo involves the worthiness of human achievement against the reactions of these advancements by a largely uninvolved public.
  • White Void Room: The setting for the videos for "Waterloo", "Ring, Ring", "Mamma Mia" and "Take a Chance On Me".
  • Whoopi Epiphany Speech: "Chiquitita".
  • Who Writes This Crap?!: Implied in "King Kong Song":
    "This song we gotta sing is kind of funky ... "
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Agnetha uaed to have a fear of flying when on tour, preferring to travel by bus when travelling solo.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: As the book The Complete Studio Recordings makes clear, the lyrics for ABBA songs often started off like this before being reworked into something that made sense. Some of the final tracks, most notably "Dum Dum Diddle", retained said lyrics if the group couldn't think of anything better.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Notably averted at least twice.
    • The actual name ABBA was originally a joke, as it's the name of a Swedish canned fish company. But the group liked it so much that they asked the company for permission to use it.
    • "Super Trouper" is a model of stage spotlight (as may be inferred from the lyric of that song: "Tonight the Super Trouper beams are gonna blind me..."). Again, they came to an agreement with the company that makes the lights so they could use it.


Video Example(s):


Money, Money, Money

This song is about a woman who decides to become a gold digger to remedy her financial problems.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / MoneySong

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