Today marks the 35th anniversary of ABBA’s historic win of the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo’.
To many people this is the defining moment in ABBA’s history. But is it really?
To countries such as the USA and Australia the ESC meant nothing at the time. ABBA’s emergance was probably the first time that many people outside of Europe had even heard of the contest.
It was the 1975 hits ‘SOS’ and ‘Mamma Mia’ that created the ABBA phenomenon.
So is ‘Waterloo’ and the ESC win really that important to ABBA history?
‘Waterloo’ is completely atypical of what ABBA was capable of. It is nothing like anything else in the ABBA catalogue, except for perhaps ‘Ring Ring’, which was created for the same purpose.
It is true to say that ‘Waterloo’ and the ESC performance was the first time that ABBA really got noticed outside of Europe, especially in the English-speaking world, and without it it’s possible that the later classics may never have gained attention.
But it could also be said that the quality of ‘SOS’ and ‘Mamma Mia’ and then later singles would have become international hits anyway and led to ABBA’s enduring success.