Knowing me, Knowing you / A-HA!
The great thing about reviewing Gold, ABBA’s collection of greatest hits, is that once completed, I shall never have to listen to ABBA again. A harsh statement to be sure, but I never warmed to the band in the week I have listened to Gold. I tried, I really did, but I continually wanted to listen to other bands. Often, I found their music to be much too happy and upbeat. While this isn’t a bad thing per se, I lean toward melancholy and it has been a hard week. Sure, some of the lyrics that accompanied the songs could be downbeat, but the music itself betrayed a joy and hope that countered the lyrics which often portrayed people going through failed relationships.
First, some background. ABBA is a Swedish band that came to prominence after winning the 1974 Eurovision competition. They are a great example of post-Beatles pop music and you can see how the course of pop through the 80s and even into the 90s was charted by ABBA. Anni-frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Agnetha Falskog (or thereabouts), whose first name initials create the acronym that forms the band’s name, were skilled producers of catchy, upbeat, danceable, pop songs. While I can certainly see the appeal of ABBA among pop fans, even admitting that they are quite good at what they do, I cannot add myself to their fandom. I’m not a huge fan of pop music to begin with.
One of my co-workers told me that her husband loves ABBA. He used to roller-skate to their music when he was younger. All music has a context, and ABBA is no different. They are ideal in skate rinks, disco clubs, and yes, even musicals on Broadway. Gold is practically a music waiting to happen. Oh, wait. It did. I tried to listen to ABBA in a few different places to try to let the energy of their music inspire me. Since I don’t skate and would probably not consider having anything to do with something disco, I limited my context to driving, listening at home, and listening at work. The first two in particular can cause a person to re-evaluate music. ABBA certainly works well enough for driving. The beats are fast and the music can inspire you to move, which are ideal qualities for driving. The music keeps you awake, you can sing and speed to it. Sitting at home in dim lights and enjoying a mug of tea, however, works against ABBA. Quite possibly the best place to listen to ABBA is 1976, probably somewhere in Spain.
So, while ABBA is an influential band in pop circles, they were not a band that I care to listen to ever again. I’m happy to say that I can move on.
The next recording, should I be able to find it, is Moorish Music from Mauritania by Dimi Mint Abba and Khalifa Ould Eide. Never heard of this one before. If I am unable to track down a copy of this, I may have to skip ahead, but I’ll give it a good search first.