Question: Historically speaking, what is Sweden’s biggest export to the world?

Answer: With over 400 million records sold, Sweden’s biggest money-making export is ABBA.

Header Image Credit: Polar Music International

The music of ABBA is not that happy. It might sound happy, in some strange way, but deep within, it’s not happy music. It has that Nordic melancholic feeling to it. What fools you is the girls’ voices. You know, I do think that is one of the secrets about ABBA. Even when we were really quite sad, we always sounded jubilant.

Björn Ulvaeus

One of the few groups in history named after the formation of a palindrome (Alex Trebek must have loved it), ABBA is one of the most successful artists in the history of pop music. In 2023, the four members of ABBA are worth nearly $900 million collectively.

In 1974, ABBA was Sweden’s first winner of the Eurovision contest with their catchy song “Waterloo”, besting the United Kingdom’s entrant Olivia Newton-John, who placed 4th that year.

Consisting of two married couples, the supergroup’s relationships suffered as their star rose into the stratosphere, oftentimes reflected in the music they recorded (“The Winner Takes It All”, “One of Us”, “When All Is Said and Done”, “SOS”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and more). Eventually collapsing both marriages, the group nevertheless continued to record together, resulting in the dark introspective album “The Visitors” in 1981, complete with a cover image that shows the group together yet separate at the same time.

Ten years after the group broke up, the compilation “ABBA Gold” became a worldwide smash, reigniting the group’s popularity, which then led to the ABBA-infused stage musical “Mamma Mia” in 1999, and later the movie series as well. In 2021, nearly 40 years after their last recording, the group reunited for “Voyage”, complete with a virtual avatar concert series in London in 2022.

As we’ve done in the past, join us to revive, relive, and relate to the best of ABBA. Here we present ten classic tracks we appreciate the most (in no particular order). If you have a favorite that didn’t make our cut, feel free to share those suggestions within the comments at the bottom of this page. We’ll definitely take a listen!



Polar Music International

Often cited as the sole #1 single by ABBA in the United States, “Dancing Queen” was a worldwide hit, summitting the top of the charts in 16 countries. Inspired by George McRae’s “Rock Your Baby”, the europop/disco single took three months to record. Trading lead vocals with bandmate Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Fältskog noted that oftentimes it’s hard to predict what would a hit, with the exception being “Dancing Queen”. “We all knew it would be massive.” Taken from their “Arrival” album, in 2015, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 9/10

Peak Position in the: US – #1 UK #1


Polar Music International

One of the earliest ABBA songs to deal with the breakup of a relationship, “Knowing Me, Knowing You” is noted by band member Benny Andersson to be one of the best ABBA recordings in a 2004 interview. As of 2021, KMKY is the third biggest single by ABBA in the UK, with more than a million digital streams and/or pure sales to its credit. 7/10

Peak Position in the: US – #14 UK – #1


Polar Music International

Diverting from the standard female lead vocals, this ABBA tune sung by Björn Ulvaeus (with female background vocals) kicked off the group’s 1979 disco-fueled album “Voulez-Vous”. Cashbox magazine noted that the single was “a rocking departure for the group, although the overall sound is still Europop.” The song still sounds fresh in 2023. 8/10

Peak Position in the: US – #19 UK – #4


Polar Music International

This second single from “ABBA: The Album” was originally titled “Billy Boy” in the original working sessions. Interesting enough, the “take a chance, take a chance” staccato repetition by the male background vocals was born from Ulvaeus, who chanted to set pace during his regular runs. This seventh #1 single in the UK for the group made them the act with the most chart-toppers in the UK during the 70’s. 8/10

Peak Position in the: US – #3 UK #1

MAMMA MIA (1975)

Polar Music International

ABBA’s sixth career single, “Mamma Mia” was the group’s first single to top the UK singles chart since 1974’s “Waterloo” breakthrough Eurovision winner. The distinctive instrument providing the song’s intro is a marimba, added near the end of the sessions to provide a clock-ticking feeling to the song’s arrangement. The track was originally not scheduled to be a single, and in fact was offered and rejected by another artist before its promo video overshadowed ABBA’s single “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” in Australia, eventually spending 10 weeks at #1 there. Oh yes, and then there’s that little musical that came along in 1999. 8/10

Peak Position in the US – #32 UK – #1


Polar Music International

The lead single from ABBA’s seventh studio album, “Super Trouper”, “The Winner Takes It All” was the group’s final top 10 hit in the United States, and in a 1999 poll and a subsequent follow-up, was voted “Britain’s Favorite Break-Up Song” by the British public. According to Ulvaeus, he was drinking whiskey while writing the lyrics, and being drunk, the lyrics came to him in an emotional wave in under an hour, inspired but not taken directly from his divorce from band mate Agnetha Fältskog, who ironically sings lead on the track. 7/10

Peak Position in the: US – #8 UK – #1

SOS (1975)

Polar Music International

Working title on this fifth single from their self-titled 1975 release “ABBA” was “Turn Me On”, and it was the first major success for the group since their hit “Waterloo” broke into the top 10 in a number of countries. Originally recorded in Swedish, this was the track that defined the sound the supergroup would eventually adhere to throughout their career – solid, catchy, and hook-laden pop music. Do your best to forget about Pierce Brosnan’s tone-deaf recording of this gem from the “Mamma Mia” film soundtrack decades later…I know, it’s hard to do! 7/10

Peak Position in the: US – #15 UK – #6


Polar Music International

Recorded to promote their North American and European tour in 1979, this infectious single was a brand-new track on ABBA’s “Greatest Hits, Volume 2” album. Upon its release, the track topped the charts in 5 countries, while hitting top 5 in a number of others. It has been covered by Cher, A-Teens, and sampled to successful effect by Madonna on 2005’s “Hung Up”. 8/10

Peak Position in the: UK – #3


Polar Music International

ABBA returned to recording after a 40-year hiatus with the dual single “I Still Have Faith in You/Don’t Shut Me Down” in 2021, taken from their ninth studio album, “Voyage”. DSMD hit the top 10 in 11 countries, and #1 in 3 countries’ charts. Listening to the track, it’s like no time has passed, but in a good way. Per Wikipedia, Kate Mossman of the New Statesman wrote: “Its opening has a West End feel, like Evita‘s tentative address to the masses, but then it whizzes with a ‘Dancing Queen’ mirrorball glissando into squelchy 1980s disco, giving the impression it’s going to be straightforward. But then it mutates and mutates into something wonderful and strange.” Definitely a welcomed comeback. 8/10

Peak Position in the: US: #32 UK – #9


Polar Music International

Translated to mean “little girl”, “Chiquitita” was both a first and last single release (depending on the country) from their 1979 “Voulez-Vous” album. Featured in 1979’s “Music for UNICEF” concert, the group donated half of the profits initially from the single to charity ($4.8 million as of 2021). Who doesn’t love that slowly building piano near the end that slides into a bouncy outro?Musical perfection. 8/10

Peak Position in the: US – #29 UK – #2

Because this is a “casual” listener list, it consists of hits by the artist. There are so many great ABBA songs that it truly is hard to narrow them down to ten. What are some of the other songs we “should” have included? What album tracks should have been singles? Here’s our secondary list:

  • Ring Ring
  • Waterloo
  • Honey Honey
  • Bang-A-Boomerang
  • I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do
  • Rock Me
  • When I Kissed the Teacher
  • Money, Money, Money
  • Fernando
  • Eagle
  • The Name of the Game
  • Thank You for the Music
  • Voulez-Vous
  • I Have a Dream
  • Angeleyes
  • Summer Night City
  • Super Trouper
  • On and On and On
  • Happy New Year
  • Our Last Summer
  • Lay All Your Love on Me
  • The Visitors
  • When All is Said and Done
  • One of Us
  • Slipping Through My Fingers
  • Like an Angel Passing Through My Room
  • The Day Before You Came
  • I Still Have Faith in You
  • When You Danced with Me
  • Little Things

So, there you have it. Our Ten. What would “Your Ten” look like? Leave your thoughts via a comment on the page!

Before you leave, please check out our previous entries in the “Our Ten” series here on Moteventure!


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