Friday, 9 August 2013

What Abba says about the memory of Waterloo

"My, my, at Waterloo Napoleon did surrender
Oh yeah, and I have met my destiny in quite a similar way
The history book on the shelf
 Is always repeating itself"

Okay, apart from the slight historical inaccuracy in the above lyrics, even in 1974 Waterloo was still very much in the public mind. Enough at least to help win a Eurovision song contest. Not only did Abba gain the coveted prize, it also became a hit record for them and the start of their international breakthrough.

Napoleon, as ever taking the credit for the work of others
In that year 17 countries competed, with 10 jurors from each participating country giving a point to their favourite song. Abba won with 24 points, among which a massive 5 from Finland and Switzerland. Former allies the Netherlands gifted 3 points, (West-)Germany 2 and Luxembourg 1, but Great Britain and Belgium refused their love. France didn't take part in the competition, because French president Pompidou had died a week before, so we don't know how French jurors would have reacted.

However, we have some information on the chart success of the song. According to wikipedia the record went to number 1 in Belgium, Great-Britain, Eire and (West)-Germany, but only reached number 2 in the Netherlands and 3 in France. While a certain restraint was to be expected from France, not exactly the star of the song, Dutch lukewarm reception is suspect. Especially as the song reached #1 in Denmark, the country whose contingent arrived to late in the Low Countries to take part in the campaign.

The song was originally called Honey Pie, but I can't imagine it winning the contest with that title. Bennie and Björn also showed good sense of the musical mood as they moved the musical arrangement closer to disco and of the fashion trends as they latched on to glitter. Sadly, the Eurovision song contest never moved on in both the fields.

But the real question is: why didn't Abba sing about the battle of Leipzig, a battle that they at least participated in?

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