In 1976, ABBA were expanding in all directions, and on the Billboard Hot 100 for 22 May, they took their next step in the American market. As Wings flew to No. 1 with ‘Silly Love Songs,’ as the top ten featured Henry Gross singing the sublime ‘Shannon’ and Dorothy Moore’s world turning ‘Misty Blue.’ Meanwhile, the Swedish quartet’s ‘Mamma Mia’ made its chart debut at No. 83.
As in many countries, ABBA had hit the top ten in America with their Eurovision smash ‘Waterloo’ in 1974, then followed it with a top 30 appearance for ‘Honey, Honey.’ The next year, they reached No. 15 with ‘SOS’ (which as all good chart buffs know, is the only American hit on which both the title and the artist are palindromes).
No. 15 was also the peak position in the US for ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do,’ which was in its 15th and final week on the chart as ‘Mamma Mia’ took its bow, more than a year after it first appeared on the ABBA album. The song, written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus with the group’s manager Stig Anderson, was released as a single in some territories in September 1975, and by early 1976 it was topping the UK charts, replacing Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’
After its belated US release and from its modest start, ‘Mamma Mia’ leapt 20 places in its second chart week there, and entered the top 40 in its fifth. It ran out of steam at No. 32 in the week of the American bicentennial, but over time, of course, the song would become one of ABBA’s most-recognised songs — so much so that it became the title of the musical and, subsequently, the films inspired by their awesome catalogue.
Follow the official Abba Best Of playlist, featuring three hours of their pop classics.