ABBA‘s international fortunes had been somewhat faltering after their Eurovision triumph with ‘Waterloo’ in 1974. But by late 77, they were on an unstoppable roll, especially in the UK, as they notched their sixth No. 1 single, and fifth from their last six releases, with ‘The Name Of The Game.’
That sequence started with ‘Mamma Mia’ and continued with ‘Fernando,’ ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You,’ and was only interrupted by ‘Money Money Money’ peaking at No. 3, rather surprisingly for what has become a real theme song for the Swedish pop champions.
This new, atmospheric number, written as so often by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus with band manager Stig Andersson, was the first to be composed for their next LP, simply called The Album. The song became a top ten single in many countries, including Germany, Holland, Australia and indeed Sweden. It fared well in the States, with a No. 12 peak and a top ten placing on the Adult Contemporary chart there. But it was in the UK that ‘The Name Of The Game’ really enhanced ABBA’s ever-growing reputation as the premier hitmakers of the era.
The track entered the British singles countdown at a relatively modest No. 20, but a week later it raced to No. 5, with the summit in its sights. On the chart for the first week of November 1977, it unseated another, infinitely more fleeting European pop favourite, Baccara’s ‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie’ to begin a triumphant month at No. 1. What’s more, ‘The Name Of The Game’ whetted the British appetite for The Album, which landed on the chart early in 1978 and posted seven straight weeks at the top.
After covers of ‘The Name Of The Game’ by such artists as Any Trouble in 1980 and Martha Wainwright in 1999, the song was given another update in 2018 when Cher remade it for her ABBA-inspired Dancing Queen album.
‘The Name Of The Game’ is on The Album, which can be bought here.
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