Lesson 2, Topic 1
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Waterloo: The Story

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Waterloo: The Story of the Song


Waterloo was a huge hit originally written as a Eurovision song contest entry in 1974 by ABBA. 

In 1973, ABBA intended on entering the Eurovision song contest with their hit “Ring Ring” but they were not chosen to represent Sweden. Disheartened, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson set out to write a new song that would go on to represent Sweden at the Eurovision song contest in Brighton, UK in 1974. They swept the floor and came out on top with this upbeat song, winning the contest and propelling them to the forefront of the charts for the decade to come.

After the tune was written it was up to the band’s manager, Stig Anderson, to come up with some catchy lyrics. It was suggested he was reading a book and came across the word Waterloo. This was the famous battle in 1815 in Belgium, where Napoleon and his French army lost, surrendered and then abdicated to British  and German forces. Stig Anderson uses this surrender at the battle of Waterloo as a metaphor for a woman surrendering her love to a man, no matter how hard she fights against it.

In the 1970’s, the international music scene was dominated by British and American record labels, proving very difficult for bands and artists without these record labels to become an international hit. Following their success at Eurovision, pushed ABBA onto the international scene and they were soon recognised as a band around the world, reaching number ones and top tens in numerous countries. It could be argued that this was the start of what people now call “abbamania”. 

This song was originally written in Swedish and this is what won them the Eurovision song contest, but they later recorded this in English, German and French.