America Welcomes New Scandinavian Sensations ABBA
In the last week of August, 1974, Americans were at the movies watching ‘Chinatown,’ or possibly ‘Herbie Rides Again.’ Some of them were in Las Vegas, applauding Elvis at the Hilton, the Jackson 5 at the Grand or Petula Clark and Anthony Newley at Caesars Palace. President Ford, in the third week of his term after the resignation of Richard Nixon, said he would probably run for office in 1976. And record buyers took the winner of a competition most of them had never heard of, the Eurovision Song Contest, to its peak position on the Billboard Hot 100. This week 42 years ago, ‘Waterloo’ reached No. 6 on the famous survey for a new Scandinavian sensation called ABBA.
Four and a half months earlier, in Brighton on the English south coast, the international story of ABBA had begun when they won the 19th annual Eurovision songfest with what was the majority’s first experience of the songwriting and production genius of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. ‘Waterloo,’ credited to the male half of ABBA with the group’s manager Stig Anderson, won the competition and, two weeks later, hit the UK chart on its way to No. 1. It was similarly embraced around the world.
‘Waterloo’ started to pick up US airplay towards the end of May, 1974, on early-adopter stations such as WDRC in Hartford, Connecticut and WSGN in Birmingham, Alabama. It entered the national singles chart at No. 76 in the week of June 1, as Ray Stevens’ novelty ‘The Streak’ ruled the bestsellers. ABBA rose quite swiftly, by ten or 15 places a week, hitting the top 40 in their fourth week, the top 20 in their seventh.
On the chart of the week commencing 24 August 1974, the single nudged up one place to No. 6 (as Paul Anka moved to No. 1 with ‘(You’re) Having My Baby’) before crashing to No. 24. ABBA had not yet “made it” in America, as a modest No.27 peak for the follow-up ‘Honey Honey’ would prove. They would have to wait more than two years for their only US No. 1 with ‘Dancing Queen.’ But exactly 40 years ago, ‘Waterloo’ gave them an American top ten landmark.
August 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm
verre verry nice The Best
August 27, 2014 at 8:14 pm
Gimme, gimme, only one…please!!!
August 28, 2014 at 10:42 am
I will always play abba’s music
August 28, 2014 at 2:16 pm
Should have got to number 1….ABBA were on the wrong record label in Americs.
September 24, 2014 at 9:49 pm
True. Atlantic did little promotion and was regarded as a Black artist label. You know your stuff.
August 29, 2014 at 5:17 am
I was a young kid in Boston in 1974 when Waterloo quickly became my favorite song, and stayed that way for many years.
September 24, 2014 at 8:47 pm
I was 6 old year in 1974!!!!! I am 45 now but that’s Abba 40 years this year!!!!!!!!!!
JACK W. Davenport
September 24, 2014 at 9:11 pm
their music invokes great memories
September 25, 2014 at 1:58 pm
3 great songs: Waterloo, SOS, Fernando. Can’t stand Dancing Queen
October 7, 2015 at 7:45 pm
All melodies of ABBA band are fantastic, however I love the most are: The Winner Takes It All – Andante Andante – Dancin Queen!
I have lived in a world where I listened the songs of ABBA – so I did not spend in vain for this world!
Thank you – Benny – Frida – and Agnetha Bjor!
Tutte le melodie della banda ABBA sono fantastici, ma che amo di più sono: The Winner Takes It All – Andante Andante – Dancin Regina! Ho vissuto in un mondo in cui ho sentito le canzoni degli ABBA – quindi non spesi invano questo mondo!
October 8, 2015 at 1:27 am
I have been listening ABBA since I was 14 years old, I am 53 now. The 1st song that I heard from the radio was Dancing Queen, it wasn’t sung by ABBA but it sounded like ABBA , until one day I finally found out the original creator of this song is ABBA, ever since then they became part of my life and I must play their music weekly since I was 14. The followings are my favorites such as: I’ve been waiting for you, Dance-While the music still goes on, Our Last Summer, Lay All Your Love On Me, As Good As News, Angeles Eyes etc, There are so many….
October 8, 2015 at 1:31 am
I was there. I had just arrived in England as my new duty station, and a new friend talked me into going to this contest. What an amazing night, the performances were magnificent. But when ABBA took the stage, it was all over. The polish and charisma the group displayed was that of a group that had been together 20 years, not just months. The performance was flawless, the girls flirty and perfect. The music was exactly what it needed to be. It was a day, a night and another day in my life that I will never forget. I became a fan of that group that day, and have been ever since.