There are three bloggers who may well unfollow me shortly, at least until they reach the end of this post – assuming they still follow me just now, of course; I’m exposing the gargantuan size of my ego by assuming they do.
The three – Steve, Susie and Hugh LOVE all things Eurovision whereas my love for it has faded over time with the increasingly ludicrous definition of the Euro bit and the regional love fests that mean the voting is, essentially, rigged, even if the reason is only to stop another egregious war.
But once I loved the whole thing. And especially when ABBA won with Waterloo. Cue music.
It’s iconically Swedish, as in off the wall, to take a classic pop structure and tune and write a song about a war that took place 150 years before without the Swedes even coming on as second half subs.
The ABBA playbook that followed, however, is extraordinary. I didn’t realise it as it came out, though. We’d just had the Beatles. We still had the Stones. They’ve been lots with the longevity. Every generation has bands and songwriters who create a major body of work.
Few, though, have consistently nailed pop as Benni and Bjorn did. I’m not sure who else.
As it happened, I was never a major lover of ABBA. My dad, now that was different. For a man whose musical taste jammed the brakes on with Glenn Miller’s death, he found a new set of gears with ABBA. He had this little cassette player and you would hear one or other voice floating down the stairs when he worked on his poetry in his study. We thought him developing a sort of harmless musical senility but I think, looking back, he was onto something.
Sure I liked the tunes, thought most of the lyrics were, I thought, a bit meah and generally, having tapped my foot when the song was on, I would move on to whatever was next in the charts. And I’d not buy an album or be seen applauding them. Heaven forbid.
What I didn’t appreciate was how cunningly seduced I was being (grammatically that sentence is as compelling as a Jeremy Corbyn question). I bet there’s a gerund and/or a subjunctive in there somewhere, not that I have a clue.
The subtle and cunning line that runs through ABBA’s career, the storytelling, was brought home to me as I sat in the Circle of the Aldwych Theatre and watched and listened and foot tapped and clapped along to Mamma Mia. Sure, I was there because one of the Vet’s bezzies has stepped into the young lead as Sophie the daughter (said friend was ace, btw – Go Georgie) and we were lending our support. After all, I go to the real theatre. I’m a sophisticated consumer of live entertainment. I would normally scoff at watching a musical, but, you know what? This I enjoyed.
I think, now I’ve had time to consider, I enjoyed it because the story had some nice twists and turns, the songs are both achingly familiar and take the plot forward and the ludicrous 80s costumes and platforms are like Cadburys cream eggs – nostalgic, sweet and tacky and probably best left to the memory than actually experiencing them again.
I had the flares back in the day, though I didn’t have platforms (but I wanted them) and I channelled my inner diva into blue check and green tartan. That said, taking in the whole spectacle I realised it’s wrong to be snotty and culturally superior about what might be pap. Because well-made pap is still enjoyable and it’s good for you if it makes you smile. Anything that makes you smile has to be encouraged. I’m glad I re-embraced my inner pop lover. Now where’s my silver space suit; I want to go to Eurovision. After all, ten years ago I’ve not lost it…
… so how hard can it be to get it all back?