ABBA HAS JUST COME off the turntable, and 1976 is a wrap. Bring on the Xmas music! I was just finishing 1980 at this time last Christmas, which means I’ve played exactly 4 years of records in a year. I don’t know if that’s good or bad or indifferent — it’s not a race. It does mean I’ll probably finish playing all of my records by mid-2014 if I keep playing them at the same pace, barring any disaster.
What does all of this mean? Nothing. But, ABBA…
I did hear an ABBA lyric tonight that is just so outrageous, I have to share it with you. It’s from “Honey Honey,” and it goes there’s no other place in this world where I rather would be. You’ve heard it, right? Actually, most of the lyrics to that song are pretty crazy (honey, to say the least, you’re a doggone beast, for example), but that line is the worst grammatically.
They’re also really into the repetitive song titles — not just “Honey Honey,” but the triple “Money Money Money” and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man after Midnight)” (which, incidentally, I heard at least 3 separate times while traveling through Peru earlier this year. I have no idea why that song is so popular there. The pseudo-flutes, maybe?) and the quintuple “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do.” You’ve gotta love it.
I’ve always found ABBA to be such a bizarre group, and I mean that in a good way. I think part of the oddity is owing to their grasp of English, which seems to be so off. In fact, I remember making a similar assertion, that they sing as though they haven’t the slightest idea what they’re saying, way back when they were on Saturday Night Live in 1975.
They were singing my favorite ABBA song, “S.O.S.” (incidentally, the only top 40 hit ever where the song title and the group name are both palindromes), and they’d say “good” and “understood” as though they rhyme with “food” instead of “wood.” Hoo-boy. I wish I understewed? That was my first clue. But it’s not just their pronunciation; the lyrics are downright bizarre as well. I challenge you to find an ABBA song with no bizarre lyrics. There isn’t one. Unless you count “Arrival,” which is a bizarre instrumental with bizarre chanting and bagpipes, or pseudo-bagpipes (or something). I love it!
Anyway, when I said that about ABBA to whomever I was watching SNL with, they tried to make it sound like I suffered from a horrible lack of worldliness since everyone knows everyone in Sweden studies English all throughout their school years, so their English is very good (which rhymed with “wood” when my friend said it). This friend was quite defensive. Don’t make fun of them, they’re trying; I’d like to see you do as well in Swedish seemed to be the unspoken subtext. Granted, most Swedish schoolkids probably speak way better English than I’ll ever speak Swedish, and that was probably also true in 1975. But I think the members of ABBA went to school right before English became a mandatory part of the curriculum. Or so it would seem.
I still like them. It doesn’t make Björn and Benny and Agnetha and Anni-Frid bad people! I told you how brilliant “The Visitors” is. Bizarre, but brilliant. (And I’m not just saying that because I’m afraid one of them will read this and call me out.) Did you know they came up with the group name by combining their initials? They liked these cute little word games a lot.
I wish I could remember who it was I had my little debate with that Saturday night in front of the tv so long ago. They are almost certainly not a friend of mine anymore…though I doubt it’s because of the ABBA thing.