‘Happy New Year’ is a song that frustrates many ABBA fans. They want to play it at midnight on New Year’s Eve, but feel that the third verse statement “what lies waiting down the line/in the end of Eighty-Nine” dates the song and spoils the sentiment.
However ABBA’s ‘Happy New Year’ isn’t a song that was made to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Rather it is a relfection typical of the new year period on what’s happened in the past and what’s coming in the future.
What’s astounding about the song is how prescient it was in making the reference to what was waiting at down the line. In 1980, when ‘Happy New Year’ was composed and recorded, the Cold War between east and west was raging, symbolised when many countries boycotted the Olympic Games in Moscow. The Islamic Revolution in Iran a year earlier added to already high tensions in the Middle East. Polution was a growing concern.
Yet just ten years later, by the “end of Eighty-Nine” the Berlin Wall was torn down and the Cold War was effectively over. There was a general feeling that the world was becoming a better place. At least for a while.