Why was ABBA hated after winning Eurovision?

Despite ABBA’s monumental success after winning Eurovision in 1974, they faced significant backlash.What was going on at that time and what the artists had to go through??

Exactly 50 years ago, the representatives of Sweden confidently took victory at Eurovision . Today it seems that the first place for the little-known group was a foregone conclusion, and after the competition there was more than enough popularity. But, as it recently turned out, behind the catchy tunes and hits were hidden both the ups and downs of ABBA. What was going on at that time and what the artists had to go through, you will find out with us in the next couple of minutes.

The Rise and Fall of ABBA

Sequins, satin, silver shoes… Few people know that when in 1974 a little-known group from Sweden won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Waterloo, it had rather unpleasant consequences for the musicians themselves. Of course, there is no debate about ABBA’s success. After all, none of the winners of the music competition came close to their level of fame. What can we say, since that fateful year, 385 million records have been sold.

Alas, the ups and downs of ABBA were hidden away from the stage. More information about this became known thanks to the BBC documentary “ABBA: Against All Odds” . Thus, the film’s director, James Rogan, admitted that the artists were “destined to become celebrities.” “Eurovision has become an important milestone on the path to glory. But after the victory they immediately faced great difficulties.”

“We weren’t taken seriously”

In particular, at first the UK, or rather the critics and members of the Eurovision jury, did not want to take the Swedes seriously at all. And if you could close your eyes on the first, the second literally gave zero points to the group. They didn’t want to take ABBA’s music to the radio either. “We weren’t taken seriously. I think primarily because of the clothes. We suffered a lot because of this,” recalled Bjorn Ulvaeus.

Of course, the performers sought not only to enter, but also to conquer the international market. But first of all, it was necessary to deal with the hate at home. To say that the group was not popular in Sweden would be to say nothing. Many listeners openly called the artists “too commercial” and the music itself “the kind to make money.”

The Swedes were also irritated by the fact that in 1975 their state was forced to spend money on hosting Eurovision as the winning country of the previous year. Because of this, many musicians lost funding, as everything was spent on preparing for the event. Protests began and soon there were at least two hundred thousand people on the streets of Stockholm. The discontent among citizens was so great that in 1976 Sweden completely refused to take part in Eurovision.

Commercial success and respect for creativity

Commercial, apolitical and incredibly popular. Despite more and more ABBA hits, the media did not stop hating the group. The same musicians who decided to play with the artists were blacklisted. Moreover, the artists were directly called enemies. Although, of course, it is important to note that during this period punk appeared, which, to put it mildly, contradicted the brilliant image of the heroes of our material. Therefore, already in 1979, the Disco Sucks movement tried with all its efforts to destroy not only ABBA, but also the genre itself.

However, the situation began to improve with the release of the hit Dancing Queen. A cassette of this song was on repeat throughout the tour in The Sex Pistols’ dressing room. At the ABBA concert in London, members of Led Zeppelin and The Who sat in the VIP area. What can we say, even John Lennon was delighted with their song SOS. And, finally, even critics began to treat the artists’ work less coldly.

“Relationships at the level of love and hate”

It would seem that now you can create new hits without any problems, fill stadiums and sell even more records. But along with the divorce of both couples, the group broke up in 1982. 10 years later, a greatest hits collection was released, becoming the second best-selling album in UK history. Another 7 years later, the musical Mamma Mia! debuted. This is the era of not only commercial success, but also respect for the group’s work and their incredible influence on pop music.

“All this early criticism more or less melted away, but the music remained. And music is a kind of cultural force ,” said James Rogan, speaking about the rise and fall of ABBA in the documentary. And, importantly, it is thanks to the commercial success of the group that Sweden is today the center of pop music. After all, this is where hits were created for Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry. “They have now been accepted as part of their culture. But this is a relationship at the level of simultaneous love and hate.”

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