Waterloo (ABBA song)

Summary

"Waterloo"
Waterloo (English version) by ABBA Swedish release A-side.jpg
A-side label of the Swedish vinyl release of the English-language recording
Single by ABBA
from the album Waterloo
B-side
  • "Honey, Honey" (Swedish-language release)
  • "Watch Out" (English-language release)
Released4 March 1974[1]
Recorded17 December 1973
StudioMetronome Studios, Stockholm
Genre
Length2:42
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Benny Andersson
  • Björn Ulvaeus
ABBA singles chronology
"Nina, Pretty Ballerina"
(1973)
"Waterloo"
(1974)
"Honey, Honey"
(1974)
Audio sample
Waterloo (English version)
  • file
  • help
Music video
"Waterloo" on YouTube
Music video
"Waterloo (Eurovision Performance)" on YouTube
Eurovision Song Contest 1974 entry
Country
Artist(s)
As
Language
Composer(s)
Lyricist(s)
Conductor
Finals performance
Final result
1st
Final points
24
Entry chronology
◄ "You're Summer" (1973)   
"Jennie, Jennie" (1975) ►

"Waterloo" is the first single from the Swedish pop group ABBA's second album, Waterloo, and their first under the Epic and Atlantic labels. This was also the first single to be credited to the group performing under the name ABBA. The title and lyrics reference the Battle of Waterloo, and use it as a metaphor for a romantic relationship.

On 6 April 1974, the song was the winning entry for Sweden in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. The victory began ABBA's path to worldwide fame. The Swedish version of the single was a double A-side with the Swedish version of "Honey, Honey", while the English version usually featured "Watch Out" on the B-side.

The single became a No. 1 hit in several countries. It reached the U.S. Top 10 and went on to sell nearly six million copies.[citation needed]

At the 50th anniversary celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005, it was chosen as the best song in the competition's history.[4] It received the same honour in a 14-country open vote in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 in Rotterdam, placing first above Loreen's "Euphoria" and Måns Zelmerlöw's "Heroes".[5]

Writing, recording and meaning

"Waterloo" was written specifically to be entered into the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, after the group finished third with "Ring Ring" the previous year in the Swedish pre-selection contest, Melodifestivalen 1973.

The original title of the song was "Honey Pie". "Waterloo" was originally written with simultaneous rock music and jazz beats (unusual for an ABBA song).

Recording of the song commenced on 17 December 1973, with instrumental backing from Janne Schaffer (who came up with the main guitar and bass parts), Rutger Gunnarsson and Ola Brunkert. The song's production style was influenced by Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound": prior to recording "Ring Ring", engineer Michael B. Tretow had read Richard Williams' book Out of His Head: The Sound of Phil Spector, which inspired him to layer multiple instrumental overdubs on the band's recordings, becoming an integral part of ABBA's sound. Subsequently, German and French versions were recorded in March and April 1974 respectively: the French version was adapted by Claude-Michel Schönberg, who would later go on to co-write Les Misérables.[6]

The song's lyrics are metaphorical and are about a woman who "surrenders" to a man and promises to love him, likening it to Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

At Eurovision

The band considered submitting another song to Eurovision, "Hasta Mañana", but decided on "Waterloo" since it gave equal weight to both lead vocalists Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, while "Hasta Mañana" was sung only by Fältskog.

ABBA performed the song at Melodifestivalen 1974 in February, singing it in Swedish. The song won, and therefore advanced to Eurovision.

The song differed from the standard "dramatic ballad" tradition of the Eurovision Song Contest by its flavour and rhythm, as well as by its performance. ABBA gave the audience something that had rarely been seen before in Eurovision: flashy costumes (including silver platform boots), plus a catchy uptempo song and even simple choreography. The group also broke from convention by being the first winning entry in a language other than that of their home country; prior to 1973, all Eurovision singers had been required to sing in their country's native tongue, a restriction that was lifted briefly for the contests between 1973 and 1976 (thus allowing "Waterloo" to be sung in English), then reinstated before ultimately being removed again in 1999. Compared to later ABBA releases, the singers' Swedish accents are decidedly more pronounced in "Waterloo".

The song scored 24 points to win the Eurovision Song Contest 1974 final on 6 April, beating runner-up Gigliola Cinquetti of Italy's entry "" by six points.

Reception

The song shot to No. 1 in the UK and stayed there for two weeks, becoming the first of the band's nine UK No. 1's, and the 16th biggest selling single of the year in the UK.[7] It also topped the charts in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, West Germany, Ireland, Norway, South Africa, and Switzerland, while reaching the Top 3 in Austria, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and ABBA's native Sweden. (The song was immensely popular in Sweden, but did not reach No. 1 there due to Sweden having a combined Album and Singles Chart at the time: at the peak of the song's popularity, its Swedish and English versions reached No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, while the No. 1 spot was held by the album Waterloo.) The song also spent 11 weeks on Svensktoppen (24 March – 2 June 1974), including 7 weeks at No. 1.[8]

As of September 2021, it is ABBA's eleventh-biggest song in the UK, including both pure sales and digital streams.[9]

Unlike other Eurovision-winning tunes, the song's appeal transcended Europe: "Waterloo" also reached the Top 10 in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Rhodesia, and the United States (peaking at No. 6, their third highest-charting U.S. hit after No. 1 "Dancing Queen" and No. 3 "Take a Chance on Me"). The Waterloo album performed similarly well in Europe, although in the US it failed to match the success of the single.

ABBA had originally cited the song "See My Baby Jive", by English glam rock band Wizzard, as a major influence; in the wake of their Eurovision victory, they were quoted as saying that it would not surprise them if artists such as Wizzard would consider entering the Eurovision in the future.

Legacy

"Waterloo" was re-released in 2004 (with the same B-side), to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ABBA's Eurovision win, reaching No. 20 on the UK charts.

On 22 October 2005, at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest, "Waterloo" was chosen as the best song in the competition's history.[4]

Harry Witchel, physiologist and music expert at the University of Bristol, named "Waterloo" the quintessential Eurovision song.[10]

Track listing

Swedish version

a. "Waterloo" (Swedish version) – 2:45
b. "Honey Honey" (Swedish version) – 2:55

English version

a. "Waterloo" (English version) – 2:46
b. "Watch Out" – 3:46

Official versions

  • "Waterloo" (English version)
  • "Waterloo" (English alternate version)
  • "Waterloo" (French version) - recorded 18 April 1974 in Paris, France
  • "Waterloo" (French/Swedish version) - overdubs of French and Swedish versions
  • "Waterloo" (German version)
  • "Waterloo" (Swedish version)

Charts and certifications


Release history

Region Date Title Label Format Catalog
Sweden 4 March 1974 "Waterloo" (Swedish) / "Honey, Honey" (Swedish) Polar Single POS 1186
Sweden 4 March 1974 "Waterloo" (English) / "Watch Out" Polar Single POS 1187
UK 1974 "Waterloo" / "Watch Out" Epic Single EPC 2240
US 1974 "Waterloo" / "Watch Out" Atlantic Single 45-3035
West Germany 1974 "Waterloo" (German) / "Watch Out" Polydor Single 2040 116
France 1974 "Waterloo" (French) / "Gonna Sing You My Lovesong" Vogue Single 45. X. 3104

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again version

"Waterloo" was released on 1 June 2018 as the second single from the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again soundtrack, by Capitol and Polydor Records. The song is performed by Hugh Skinner (Young Harry) and Lily James (Young Donna) and was produced by Benny Andersson.

Charts

Chart (2018) Peak
position
Hungary (Single Top 40)[46] 40
Scotland (OCC)[47] 70

Certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[48] Silver 200,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Other cover versions

Live cover performances

  • The song is featured in the encore of the musical Mamma Mia!. The song does not have a context or a meaning. It is just performed as a musical number in which members of the audience are encouraged to get up off their seats and sing, dance and clap along.
  • The song is performed by the cast over the closing credits of the film Mamma Mia!, but is not featured on the official soundtrack.
    • The song is also performed in the sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, by Hugh Skinner and Lily James.

Appearances in other media

  • ABBA perform parts of the song live in the 1977 film ABBA: The Movie.
  • The Australian film Muriel's Wedding (1994), features "Waterloo" in a pivotal scene in which lead Toni Collette bonds with the character played by Rachel Griffiths. The film's soundtrack, featuring five ABBA tracks, is widely regarded as having helped to fuel the revival of popular interest in ABBA's music in the mid-1990s.[52]
  • "Waterloo" features prominently in the 2015 science-fiction film The Martian.[53] The song plays as the film's lead, played by Matt Damon, works to ready his launch vehicle for a last-chance escape from Mars.[54]
  • "Here I Go Again", the 11th episode of the third season of Legends of Tomorrow (19 February 2018), begins in medias res, with the titular time-traveling team having apparently just restored a time-transplanted Napoleon from the 1970s, where he had come into possession of a copy of the record.[55] The song is also stuck in the head of one member of the team, until he erases his own memory to get it out.
  • In "Mother Simpson", the eighth episode of the seventh season of The Simpsons, Mr. Burns plays "Ride of the Valkyries" from a tank about to storm the Simpson home, but the song is cut-off and "Waterloo" is played, to which Smithers apologizes, advising he "must have accidentally taped over that".[56]

References

  1. ^ "Album waterloo « Waterloo | ABBA". Abbasite.com. 4 March 1978. Archived from the original on 21 May 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  2. ^ Shahriari, Andrew (28 September 2010). "Europop and Folk Fusions". Popular World Music. Routledge. ISBN 978-0136128984.
  3. ^ Raykoff, Ivan; Deam Tobin, Robert, eds. (2007). "Camping on the borders of Europe". A Song for Europe: Popular Music and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest. Routledge. p. 1. ISBN 9780754658795.
  4. ^ a b "Abba win 'Eurovision 50th' vote". BBC News. 23 October 2005. Retrieved 20 July 2006.
  5. ^ "ABBA's Waterloo named best song in Eurovision Top 50". Brussels Times. 16 May 2021. Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  6. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (31 March 2018). "The Year Abba channeled Phil Spector and conquered the world". Salon. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  7. ^ Scott, Robert (2002) 'ABBA: Thank You for the Music - The Stories Behind Every Song', Carlton Books Limited: Great Britain, p.42
  8. ^ "Svensktoppen - 1974". Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  9. ^ UK Official Charts ABBA's Official Top 20 biggest songs
  10. ^ "Waterloo named best ever Eurovision song". Manchester Evening News. 19 May 2005. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  11. ^ David Kent (2006). Australian Charts Book 1993—2005. Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd, Turramurra, N.S.W. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-646-45889-2.
  12. ^ "ABBA – Waterloo" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  13. ^ "ABBA – Waterloo" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  14. ^ "ABBA – Waterloo" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  15. ^ "RPM Volume 21, No. 24". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. 3 August 1974. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  16. ^ "Waterloo on Danish Top 20 - 1974". Danskehitlister.dk. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  17. ^ "Tous les Titres par Artiste: A". Infodisc.fr. Archived from the original on 13 March 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
  18. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Waterloo". Irish Singles Chart.
  19. ^ Spinetoli, John Joseph. Artisti In Classifica: I Singoli: 1960-1999. Milano: Musica e dischi, 2000
  20. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 17, 1974" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  21. ^ "ABBA – Waterloo" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  22. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  23. ^ "ABBA – Waterloo". VG-lista. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  24. ^ Brian Currin (25 May 2003). "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Number 1s". Rock.co.za. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  25. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  26. ^ "Kvällstoppen 1972–1975" (PDF). www.hitsallertijden.nl. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  27. ^ "ABBA – Waterloo". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  28. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  29. ^ "ABBA Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  30. ^ Downey, Pat; Albert, George; Hoffmann, Frank W (1994). Cash Box pop singles charts, 1950–1993. Libraries Unlimited. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-56308-316-7.
  31. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – ABBA – Waterloo". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  32. ^ Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: Singles Chart Book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  33. ^ Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Australian-charts.com. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  34. ^ "Jahreshitparade Singles 1974". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  35. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1974". Ultratop. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  36. ^ "RPM Volume 22, No. 19". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. 28 December 1974. Archived from the original on 7 November 2017. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  37. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1974". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  38. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1974" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  39. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1974". Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  40. ^ Swiss Year-End Charts, 1974
  41. ^ "Top 100 1974".
  42. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1974". Billboard. Longbored Surfer. 1974. Archived from the original on 25 November 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  43. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1956". Cash Box Magazine. 1957. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  44. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts". GfK Entertainment (in German). offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved 13 August 2021.
  45. ^ "British single certifications – ABBA – Waterloo". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  46. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 40 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  47. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  48. ^ "British single certifications – Lily James/Hugh Skinner – Waterloo". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 14 May 2021.
  49. ^ Cashmere, Paul (24 September 2018). "Cher Opens Here We Go Again Tour In Auckland And Then Heads Out For Gelato". Nosie11. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  50. ^ Caulfield, Keith (9 February 2017). "Cher Returns to the Concert Stage With Glitz & Hits (But No Politics)". Billboard. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  51. ^ Avery Thompson. "Cher, 73, Rocks Plunging Purple Jumpsuit & Performs 'Waterloo' On 'AGT' Finale".
  52. ^ Snetiker, Marc (13 October 2015). "How ABBA (and that 'Waterloo' scene) made it into 'Muriel's Wedding'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  53. ^ Newman, Melinda (2 October 2015). "The Martian Soundtrack Filled With Disco Classics". Archived from the original on 11 October 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  54. ^ Pahle, Rebecca (6 October 2015). "The Very Best Moments in 'The Martian' (Including the One Ridley Scott Wanted to Cut)". Pajiba.com. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  55. ^ Sava, Oliver. "Legends Of Tomorrow channels "Hedgehog Day" for an excellent time loop story". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  56. ^ Weinstein, Josh (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Mother Simpson" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.

External links

  • Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics
  • Classic pop video of Waterloo
  • Abba4therecord.com
  • ABBA - Waterloo on YouTube