Old/Newish Albums: ABBA’s “ABBA”

It seems crazy to undertake several separate album review series at the same time but the thought of working through so much music is really exhilarating to me. This will be a challenge but I’m really excited about undertaking it as 2015 gets up and running.

This particular series is another offshoot of my series from last year, Old/New Albums. The gimmick here is that these are albums to which I’ve given at least one listen, and in some cases, the albums I’ve chosen have maybe eight or ten listens to them. So I have some cursory knowledge of the music within. But aside from one or two songs on each, I can’t really pinpoint or identify any specific tunes.

There was no special selection process for this list of albums. Scrolling through iTunes, if I saw a record I’ve been meaning to spend more time with, it made the list. So there are some weirdly obscure albums in this series, but some others generally recognized as classics that I’ve never fully tackled.

abbaNot sure how one would classify this first album: it’s ABBA’s 1975 self-titled ABBA. I’ve never been a huge ABBA fan and have only known a few of their hits, namely “Dancing Queen,” thanks to every wedding reception I’ve attended.

According to Wikipedia, ABBA is one of the top ten best-selling artists in the world. That’s pretty insane to think about, especially when you look at the other artists on that list: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Whitney Houston, Elvis Presley, etc. To me, ABBA was never a name I associated with superstardom. I had never heard of them until probably high school.

But they were clearly a smash at their peak, and this was a pretty big album. But as I might’ve expected, I’m not in love with it.

ABBA is fine, and I understand their appeal, especially the appeal of their singles and big hits, but aside from that, they don’t do much for me. There isn’t anything on this album outside of the hits that I’d really come back to for any reason.

Mostly it’s vanilla, but there are some stinkers too. “Tropical Loveland” is the only evidence you’ll ever need for why Swedish white people shouldn’t record reggae. Then there’s the cheesy upbeat ballad, “Bang-A-Boomerang,” that compares love with a boomerang. Honestly, how did this make it on any album, ever?

But the hits are hits for a reason. “SOS” is the winner here, if only because I associate it with Pierce Brosnan’s uncomfortable rendition in the film version of Mamma Mia. But aside from that, it’s a really well-constructed pop song. Worth a listen.

I think that’s what ABBA is for me: a lot of well-constructed pop songs that hit a pretty low common denominator. That’s not bad, it’s just not the makings of music that will keep me coming back a lot.

Top 3 Tunes:

  1. SOS
  2. Mamma Mia
  3. Hey, Hey Helen


Filed under Music, Review

2 responses to “Old/Newish Albums: ABBA’s “ABBA”

  1. don’t lump my wedding reception or any reception i’ve/we’ve DJed in with all *those other* wedding receptions. there are rexceptions.

    • Haha very true, I do not remember a single ABBA song played at your reception. However, I did put “Dancing Queen” on at H/Q’s and it was a hit, as it always is whenever it’s played.

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