ABBA: Best of the Rest – Part 1

We’ve covered all nine of ABBA’s UK #1s, from ‘Waterloo’ to ‘Super Trouper’, but I’m not ready to bid them farewell just yet. Here then, are the rest of the band’s 17 non chart-topping UK Top 40 hits, ranked, and split over two days. Bear in mind that I do not actively dislike any of these songs, even the lowest placing. While the records at the top of this list do, I’d say, rank alongside the best of ABBA’s chart-topping hits. Here we go…

17. ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ – reached #38 in 1975

The worst of the rest (but still an earworm). This is ABBA at their schlager-iest: the saxophones, the wedding bells, the silly title. The band were struggling to follow up ‘Waterloo’, to score a hit away from Eurovision, and when this limped to #38 it looked as if the game might have been up. Luckily their next single did significantly better, and the rest is history…

16. ‘I Have a Dream’ – reached #2 in 1979

ABBA’s final single of the seventies was this Christmas Number Two. Sorry, that sounded a bit rude. It’s not that bad, but I’ve never connected with it. Listening to ‘ABBA Gold’ as a kid, this was the one song I wished would end sooner than it ever did, and then along came Westlife’s rotten cover version. I still feel the same way: it’s a bit plodding – the sitar doesn’t help – and children’s choirs in pop songs are, as St. Winifred’s showed us, dangerous things.

15. ‘Chiquitita’ – reached #2 in 1979

Another number two – again, not being rude – from 1979, and from the ‘Voulez-Vous’ album. I can see that this is a well-made piece of music: the baroque piano, the chorus that demands to be belted out, the terrifying snowman in the video; and a well-loved moment in the ABBA canon. But it still leaves me a little cold. ‘Chiquitita’ could well be the lover of ‘Fernando’, and I’d rank the two songs together: catchy choruses, but nowhere near peak-ABBA.

14. ‘Money, Money, Money’ – reached #3 in 1976

If it were down to the video alone, this’d be near the top. The close-ups, the strobe lights, the diamond encrusted kimonos… As a song though, it’s fine. It’s worth a sing-a-long if it comes on the radio. It sounds a bit like it’s been snatched from a musical that nobody has ever seen, and it has one hell of a key-change. Apart from that, the best bit is when Frida pouts the line I bet he wouldn’t fancy me… Um, I bet he probably would, love.

13. ‘Ring, Ring’ – reached #32 in 1974

The title hit from their first album in 1973, albeit only charting in a re-release after the success of ‘Waterloo’. This is such an early hit – their first Swedish #1 – that the band hadn’t yet assumed their iconic acronym (they released it as Bjorn and Benny, Agnetha and Frida). They had a few glam-rock stompers – ‘Waterloo’, ‘So Long’, this. In the video, Bjorn looks like he’s stumbled in after an audition for The Sweet. ‘Twas the style of the time.

12. ‘Thank You for the Music’ – reached #33 in 1983

Their signature hit? Until quite recently, this was ABBA’s chart swansong. Originally recorded in 1977 and included on ‘ABBA – The Album’ but not released as a single until after they’d officially split. A few years ago I’d have ranked this rock-bottom: I thought it tipped too far into camp theatricality. And it still does… But I’ve grown to like it. Who knows, in another decade this might be my favourite? I always imagine Freddie Mercury singing it with Agnetha – the little ‘mm-hmm’ in the second verse is pure Freddie. Can you imagine..?

11. ‘Summer Night City’ – reached #5 in 1978

The band’s first foray into disco, ahead of the ‘Voulez-Vous’ album. While I like the impetus and the drive of this one, I don’t think it’s quite in the same league as their later disco hits, which I’ve ranked higher up the list. And, just confirm, the lyric is: Walking in the moonlight… and not what you think you heard.

A little hors d’oeuvre then, before the main event. Still some classics mixed in there. Same time tomorrow: The Top 10…

8 thoughts on “ABBA: Best of the Rest – Part 1

  1. Abba so how can i resist! I think summer night city is under appreciated prob cos its the darkest single they ever released, and chiquitita got the fernando comparisons when it came out, but i never saw them as alike – i love chiquitita and that epic finale, the sentiment is all about children and the proceeds all went to Unicef so money where the mouth is and all that and kudos to abba pioneering years before charity records were a thing.

    There should be more abba singles on the list had epic uk not consistently been dumb. Worldwide tracks like eagle, honey honey, when all is said and done and more could easily have been hits. And they chose to go with ring ring and let sweet dreams get the uk top 20 hit cover of honey honey. The impetus slipped as a result and the great so long got little airplay and bombed. I do i do i do was heavily played by terry wogan, enough for it to eventually chart giving them a much unexpected 3rd chart hit and setting them up for a more positive reaction to the next single…which the sex pistols nicked a bit of, and which was the one where opinion started to change. Top 3 in part 2? 🙂

    • Not quite Top 3… But high. I’ve definitely gone heart over head with my top choices but hey ho… As for songs that should have been hits – ‘So Long’ definitely should. It’s great. Was that released and just failed to chart? And I wish ‘If It Wasn’t for the Nights’ had been a single from ‘Voulez Vous’, rather than one of the ballads.

      • Yes so long was a single, i think they might even have done top of the pops and it came close to the 50 so would have charted as high as just a notion and when you danced with me now have, at least. Nights was intended to be an early single but the boys thought it would be criticised for sounding too much like dancing queen rhythmically. Me, idve dropped does your mother know and gone for that one anyway 🙂

      • I commented at length on the otherI thread, but yes, ‘So Long’ got the new release slot on ‘Top of the Pops’ early December 1974, introduced by Tony Blackburn (and I think the clip is still on Youtube). But ABBA were then facing the full force of the ‘Eurovision winners have a very short shelflife and then they are toast’ backlash. It was slagged off in the music press and I never heard it once on Radio 1, so sadly it missed the Top 50 altogether.

  2. Schlager-iest?

    I was not fond of I Have A Dream & Thank You For The Music. They just didn’t have any oomph to me. That being said, Chiquitita is in my Samsung playlist. I need to find Summer Night City as that is awesome.

    Considering Anni-Frid is now Swiss Royalty, she WAS fancied.

    Actually, Bjorn looks like he tried out for KISS.

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