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“Dancing Queen” by ABBA, The World's First Europop Disco Hit

Entertainment | September 24, 2021

“Dancing Queen” by ABBA hits the mark so perfectly that Queen Elizabeth once said, "I always try to dance when this song comes on because I am the Queen and I like to dance.” That desire to disco helped ABBA reach the number 1 spot in the following countries: Australia, South Africa, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the US, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Rhodesia!

The ladies of ABBA (youtube)

Written by Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson and their manager Stig Anderson, the trio drew inspiration from George McCrae’s disco banger "Rock Your Baby" and the drums from the album ‘Gumbo’ by Dr. John. The single sold over 3 million copies worldwide and pushed ABBA to new heights of fame.

Dancing Queen was ABBA's only number one song on the Billboard Hot 100. Although, others came close. (discogs)

A Hit From Jump

Very rarely do musicians know they have a hit on their hands. People’s music tastes are very subjective and a song’s success can come down to a myriad of factors. For instance, if “Dancing Queen” actually debuted under its original title “Boogaloo", it probably wouldn’t have persisted as the classic it is today. Despite the terrible working title, the group immediately understood that “Dancing Queen” would become something special.

Reportedly, when Benny first played the song’s backing track, Frida burst into tears! As she told the Guardian, "And that was before me and Agnetha had even sung on it!. "I knew it was absolutely the best song ABBA had ever done."

ABBA came to fame by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in April, 1974 singing “Waterloo.”(ig.ft)

Holding On To Gold

So if you knew you held a winning lotto ticket, how long would you wait to cash it in? Amazingly, ABBA held on to “Dancing Queen” for almost a year before dropping it as a single. That was after spending over six months perfecting it! The wait was due in part to the studio which felt “Fernando” was the stronger song, demanding it anchor their album “Arrival.”

While “Fernando” did reach number 13 on Billboard’s Hot 100, it never reached the iconic heights of “Dancing Queen.” U2 even covered the song on their tour in ‘92. Bono held a tremendous amount of respect for them saying, "ABBA has a purer joy to their music and that's what makes them extraordinary."

ABBA sold over 300 million albums and singles worldwide. (vintageeveryday)

Common Misconceptions

Despite its incredible popularity, a few misinterpretations exist regarding the song. According to one survey, 22% of people mishear the lyrics of “Dancing Queen.” Nearly a quarter of people hear "See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen” rather than "See that girl, watch that scene, diggin' the dancing queen."

Also, the words "Night is young and the music's high" are not a veiled reference to drug use or getting high off the music. To them, it just meant the music was loud. Who knows what the public could have read into the omitted verse, "Baby, baby, you're out of sight/hey, you're looking alright tonight/when you come to the party/listen to the guys/they've got the look in their eyes..."

ABBA exploited a Swedish law, which categorized clothes as tax deductible if the owners could prove they were not for daily use. (lgbtculture)

In Review

Funnily enough, Queen Elizabeth wasn’t the only royal to love “Dancing Queen.” Queen Silvia of Sweden not only requested the group play it at her wedding to King Carl XVI Gustaf but also at her 50th birthday party! Benny Andersson remains incredibly proud of the song, undaunted by the cheesiness of the disco era.

“We always thought we did good stuff, nothing cheesy about that. We did exactly what we wanted to do. Now what you refer to as what could be cheesy must have to do with lyrics, not the music as such. And I’ve never been involved in writing lyrics, I only care for the music itself and as long as the lyrics sit together with the music nicely. I don’t care if it’s called Mamma Mia or Fernando or Dancing Queen, as long as it goes along with the melody.

Tags: ABBA | Dancing Queen

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Kellar Ellsworth

Writer

Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!