The Winner Takes It All | 3 September 2010
In 2006 it was voted Britain's Favourite Break-Up Song. In 1999 it was voted Britain's favourite ABBA song. It was ABBA's final top ten hit in the USA. And now, exactly thirty years after it ruled the European charts, the song still is world class.
Of course I am talking about The Winner Takes It All. An epic song and ultimately one of the finest pop ballads ever recorded. The songs seems to mirror the divorce between Agnetha and Björn, but Björn denied this: öIt is the experience of a divorce, but it's fiction. There wasn't a winner or a loser in our case. A lot of people think it's straight out of reality, but it's notö.
Anyway: Right from the sparkling piano in the beginning of the song until the utterly sad vocals in the end, you can hear ABBAös magic trademark of hit quality. The song is one in a row of hits that were created seemingly effortless.
Not only the phenomenal record itself, but also the video clip grabbed a lot of attention. Three pretty happy people plus an incredibly sad woman made some kind of mini-opera clip.
In a way the song and video marked the beginning of the end for super group ABBA; you could already see that the group wasnöt as tight as some years before.
That was even clearer with the release of the accompanying album Super Trouper. That contained quite melancholy and mature music and lyrics. The quite happy and disco flavoured Voulez-Vous album was succeeded by the dark and sombre Super Trouper. This was followed by the saddest of ABBA albums, The Visitors.
One of the strangest things about the single The Winner Takes It All was the cover made made by French singer Mireille Mathieu. She was allowed to use original backing track and in fact Björn, Benny and Frida did the backing vocals. I canöt honestly recall that ABBA ever again allowed other artists to use their recordings.
To me this felt like backstabbing Agnetha. Now she was even more on her own than in the famous video clip.
Later, many more artists recorded their own version of the song. Almost everybody failed miserably.
Thirty years after the release of the most emotional and personal ABBA single, you can come to only one conclusion: nobody can sing the ABBA songs as good as ABBA themselves. Agnetha and Frida should be immensely proud of that.
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