Posts Tagged ‘Dancing Queen’

My television debut

30 December, 2012

Ian on ABBA: Dancing QueenThis week I made my television debut in the new documentary ABBA: Dancing Queen, broadcast on SVT1 in Sweden last Wednesday night.

I’ve had a few TV appearances before, most notably a morning news report on an Australian ABBA fan event in March 1987. But this was my first sit-down on-camera interview.

It’s a rather unnerving experience to go through. Trying to concentrate on the questions, to think of something interesting to respond, to speak clearly and coherently, all under the glare of bright lights and the gaze of the camera. I don’t know how people in the public eye do it all the time.

The film takes a look at ABBA’s biggest hit and most well-known song, intertwined with the story of ABBA’s phenomenal success in Australia. It features lots of ABBA footage, some of it not seen on TV since the 70s, along with interviews with ABBA’s musicians, people involved in the Australian concert tour and ABBA – The Movie, international rock legends, and many more. You can watch the film here (in Swedish, all interviews are in English with Swedish subtitles). It’s a thrill to be included in such esteemed company.

Dancing Queen is the first of three ABBA documentaries screening on SVT1 over the next few weeks. See here for details about all three films. The films are produced by Roger Backlund, Carl Magnus Palm and Viktor Petrovski for Happy Monday Media. Hopefully we’ll see the films broadcast elsewhere later in the year.

Coincidentally I should be appearing in another ABBA documentary, Bang A Boomerang – Why Australia ♥ ABBA, at the end of January.

Dancing Queen – young and sweet, only 35

14 August, 2011

Dancing Queen & That's MeThirty-five years ago this week ABBA’s classic single ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘That’s Me’ was released.

Today ‘Dancing Queen’ is recognised as the most popular ABBA song, and ABBA’s biggest selling single. It’s been described as a chart topper in most countries it was released;  it was ABBA’s only number 1 on the US pop single charts.

‘Dancing Queen’ had its public debut in June 1976 at a televised gala concert commemorating the wedding of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf to German-born Silvia Sommerlath. This led to a widely held assumption that ‘Dancing Queen’ was written specially for the occasion. But Ms. Sommerlath at 33 was hardly “young and sweet, only 17”, and in fact ABBA had started work on the song over 10 months earlier.

Another modern myth is that the ‘Dancing Queen’ was rush-released after the wedding, but it was long scheduled as ABBA’s next single, for an August release. Recording started in August 1975, around the same time as ‘Fernando’. In early 1976 ABBA and their manager Stig Anderson had the difficult choice of which song to release as a single first. ‘Fernando’ was selected because it was a ballad that was different from the previous international single (the upbeat ‘Mamma Mia’), and because ‘Dancing Queen’ was considered such an advance for ABBA.

I first heard about ‘Dancing Queen’ just after ABBA’s first visit to Australia in March 1976. Newspapers reported that while the group was in Australia filming the television special The Best of ABBA (aka ABBA in Australia, ABBA Down Under) they filmed “under strict security” a performance of the next single ‘Dancing Queen’, which would be released the following August. The reports described the song as “disco-influenced”, that it was the best thing ABBA had recorded so far and predicted it would be a huge hit.

Many fans outside Sweden (including me) heard ‘Dancing Queen’ for the first time on the German TV special The Best Of ABBA (a different programme from the Australian special of the same name; the German special was renamed ABBA in Europe for Australian viewers), which was screened in June and July in some countries.

The B side ‘That’s Me’ was another new song from recording sessions earlier in the year. Both songs would be included on the Arrival album, released in October 1976. ‘That’s Me’ would go on to be a hit in Japan as a single in its own right. ‘Dancing Queen’ became ABBA’s signature song, and was used as the encore song in ABBA’s concerts in for the rest of their career together.

‘Dancing Queen’ was released on 6 August 1976 in the UK, 9 August in Australia, 16 August in Sweden, but not until early 1977 in the USA.

See the rest of the entry for various TV performances of ‘Dancing Queen’ mentioned in this post.


An unusual ABBA record #4

12 April, 2008

Dancing QueenAustralian fans watching the ABC TV programme Collectors this past week would have seen this unusual single sleeve on their televisions screens.

‘Dancing Queen’ was the first ABBA record to feature ABBA’s famous logo with the first B reversed, which was designed by art director Rune Söderqvist.

And it was the first ABBA single in Australia to come in a picture sleeve.

Apparently an Australian advertising firm had a similar logo, which led to legal proceedings regarding the ABBA logo. In preparation, RCA printed a version of the sleeve with ABBA written normally.

Close examination of the sleeve shows the obvious cut and paste of the artwork – the first B is slightly out of line with the other letters.

It seems that the legal dispute was quickly resolved, as on release day, 11 August 1976,  the single sleeve appeared with the ABBA logo.

But the logo-less version didn’t go to waste, as copies were distributed to record shops. I remember my local record shop had a whole rack of them. Stupidly I didn’t buy one then, but I’ve been lucky enough to find many copies at record fairs and second-hand shops since then.

A 1994 ABBA TV special declared that there were only three of these “misprinted” sleeves, which were worth thousands of dollars. This is patently not true – hundreds if not thousands were in circulation.  The Collectors programme told us it’s worth about AU$10, which is about right these days.

'Dancing Queen' cameos

20 November, 2007

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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