Saturday, November 12, 2005

Abiola Lapite puts his toe in the water

In this post he struggles to try to answer what seems to me a question that is very easy to answer.
what is it about ABBA that explains the breadth of their appeal and its staying power?
He gives a pretty good answer, a long and complicated form of "they were execellent at what they did", but seems to struggle with some sort of concern that what he says would be doubted by others.

He gives slightly short shrift to the lyrics. (Nobody could ever doubt that the music is exuberant and brilliant.) How did these guys, with English as a second language, write lyrics that scanned so well and fit the music better than most of the songwriters who grew up in the language? Abiola makes reference to the music in "Supertrouper", but the lyrics are amazing as well - long one of my favorite songs because I know of no other song that so perfectly captures the pain of business travel, but also what can make it worthwhile in the end. But the shape of the music and lyrics is amazing - challenging to make it all scan well and it does brilliantly.

For me it has been the lyrics that were the most amazing. "One of Us" is just devastating. In fact the breakup songs were among the best of that form I know.

I think part of what made them so superb was that all had had a singing career inside Sweden before they stunned the world in 1974. They were seasoned performers already. And Scandinavian, so automatically cute.

Are we still hung up because they won the Eurovision Song Contest? It is the case that some good performers did. Abba. Udo Juergens (who is very good and well worth a listen). And Celine Dion. (I won't defend her here, but she can sing....)

Another point: I think there is a good question posed here (about one of their worst songs, in my view).


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