'Dancing Queen' cameos

Dancing QueenABBA’s 1976 single ‘Dancing Queen’ is widely acknowledged as the group’s biggest worldwide hit and most enduring song, and a guaranteed dance-floor filler.

But ‘Dancing Queen’ has also become a pop culture icon that has been referenced or quoted in several songs by other artists.

‘Spice Up Your Life’ by the Spice Girls from their second album Spice World (1997) mentions the song title alongside another mid-70s hit in the second verse:

Yellow man in Timbuktu
Colour for both me and you
Kung fu fighting
Dancing queen
Travel spaceman
And all that’s in between

‘Ballad Of Cleo & Joe’ by Cyndi Lauper on her 1997 album Sisters of Avalon tells the story of “Joe”, who at night transforms himself into drag queen “Cleo”, using the title as narrative:

And he works his body just to be somebody.
There’s a woman in the mirror looking like a dream.
And he works his body…
And he feels somebody…
And the working boy becomes a dancing queen.

‘Disco Down’ by Kylie Minogue on her 2000 “comeback album” Light Years, like ‘Spice Up Your Life’ above, pairs the title with another Seventies disco classic:

And now l boogie in my dreams
To le Freak or Dancing Queen
Baby l still recall those things
And ooh, I’m missing you now

‘Disco Down’ also echos the guitar riff from ‘Does Your Mother Know’. 

‘When I Was Cruel no. 2’ by Elvis Costello on his album When I Was Cruel (2002) actually quotes several lines from the song lyric:

The ghostly first wife glides up on stage whispering to raucous talkers
Spilling family secrets out to flunkeys and castrato walkers
See that girl,
Watch that scene
Digging the “Dancing Queen”

Elvis had already referenced ‘Dancing Queen’ on his 1979 hit ‘Oliver’s Army’, which featured a piano figure influenced by ‘Dancing Queen’s famous descending piano riff.

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6 Responses to “'Dancing Queen' cameos”

  1. Mark Pearce Says:

    I can actually hear the edits in Dancing Queen. As has been widely documented, there is an extra verse that was edited out of the final song. I connected my hi-fi speakers out of phase and noticed a few surprises. Firstly, there is an odd effect where verse 1 was spliced into the first chorus. The strings abruptly disappear and there is a noise a bit like the sound you used to get when you tried to play a previously chewed up tape – all this occurs as the girls sing “You are the…” The splice is there but a lot less obvious just before the second chorus. With speakers connected correctly, both edits are nearly inaudible – but there is a difference in the string timbre!

    As chorus 1 ends there are some very audible dips in the sound levels just before “You’re a teaser…” Try listening on an iPod or MP3 player headphones. This is where I believe the original extra verse was edited out.

    There are edits galore in lots of ABBA songs, and I think finding them is fascinating – it adds a real insight into how the songs I’ve known and grown up with were made, and in this way, the songs tell their own hidden stories. I think a website should be devoted to “ABBA Anomalies” in a similar way to the site set up to discover just such secrets in the Beatles’ output. Just Google “Beatle Anomalies” or paste http://www.pootle.demon.co.uk/wgo.htm into a browser to see where I’m coming from!

  2. Mark Pearce Says:

    Just to elaborate on my earlier post – the edit of verse 1 into chorus occurs at about 1m25 secs into the song. The strings that cut out are normally in the right speaker. To hear the edit properly, though, you need to connect your speakers out of phase. This eliminates a lot of the stereo centre. Apparently it is possible to achieve a similar out of phase effect in software that makes mp3 files etc into karaoke versions, but I simply disconnect the red plug of my left speaker, and disconnect the right speaker altogether. I insert the black plug of the RIGHT cable into the RED socket of the LEFT speaker. It takes about 2 seconds and does no damage provided that you listen at reasonable volume, although sound is in mono. Try it!

    The change in timbre occurs at the syllable “you are the DANC…” (about 1:27) because the string section moves centre stage for the chorus
    and this is audible listening with speakers connected normally.

    At 2:11 there is a very audible dip (best heard on headphones) where I believe the missing verse was edited out!

    Interested geeks may also like to try comparing/contrasting Swedish & English versions of Waterloo, whilst listening out of phase. Try tapping the beat along with the handclaps in the choruses. You’ll find skips and jumps in several places, esp. towards the end, just before the fadeout chorus begins!

  3. Chris Williams Says:

    Hi Mark,
    Interesting comments. Listening to the track with the vocals removed, I can’t hear any cuts at 1:27; just the additional violin following the lead vocal into the chorus on the words “you are the.” Benny’s piano then hammers back in as in the intro. I’ve played the song at slower speeds but, still, I can’t relate it to the edit you’re talking about.

    When Polydor/Universal edited out the glitch at the end of the first chorus, it created an obvious cut at 2:07.8.

    You said, “This is where I believe the original extra verse was edited out.” Watching the video clip of the girls in the studio recording the vocals (as found on the Arrival Deluxe Edition DVD) proves there’s no ambiguity; The deleted verse came right before the lines, “You’re a teaser, you turn ’em on.”

    // With kind regards.

  4. Ian Cole Says:

    Mark,

    That’s certainly a most detailed analysis. I’ve had a close listen to the sections you point out, and I can hear what you’re saying. If there are more edits than the obvious one we know about (the removal of the “baby, baby” verse), I wonder could that mean different takes were edited together, more parts of the song were cut out, or sections of the song were moved about?

    At least any edits in ABBA songs aren’t as obvious or jarring as some Beatles songs such as ‘She Loves You’ or ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. That’s an interesting Beatles site you link, and a similar ABBA site would be fascinating – are you the man for the job, Mark?

    Chris,

    Thanks for your additional comments. I don’t think that glitch at 2.07 is an edit point, unless it’s an edit in the vocal line to extend the note “queen”. The glitch has always been there to some degree, it just seems to have gotten worse with each remastering of the track (until the 2005 remaster for The Complete Studio Recordings box, where it’s partially fixed but still evident). Logic dictates that this is at least one bar too early to be the removal of the “baby baby” verse.

    Until someone gets access to the uncut master tape, we’ll probably never know for sure.

    (this has all gone right off the original topic, but is an interesting discussion nonetheless)

  5. Mark Pearce Says:

    Thanks for your comments, Chris and Ian. I don’t have the deluxe editions – maybe I should treat myself. I do have Dancing Queen on the original orange label Epic vinyl Arrival, the Greatest Hits Vol 2 version, the original Polydor Arrival CD and the ABBA Gold early 1990’s CD release. They all contain the edits. Chris, at 1:27 it’s the abrupt cut off of what I think you refer to as the additional violin that I mean. I think it was meant as a kind of patch to distract attention from the join at the end of the Anybody could be that guy verse and the start of chorus 1. The glitchy sound I think is a bad tape splice! We need Bjorn, Benny or Micke to read this and explain!

    Ian I take the point about being off topic. I am not ICT literate enough to start a website, but if someone knows how I will start another thread where we can disect Abba edits at will!

    Mark 🙂

  6. Mark Pearce Says:

    Hello,
    Just to say, I have begun a series of ABBA Anomalies videos on YouTube. I intend to work my way through the songs on ABBA Gold. I have made videos for Dancing Queen and Knowing Me Knowing You, plus an introduction video which explains how to connect speakers out of phase, amongst other things. Hopefully some of you will check it out.

    My YouTube name is MarkPMus, and typing ABBA Gold Anomalies into YT’s search engine should bring them up.

    Thanks
    Mark 😀

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