Songs That Were Banned: ABBA – Waterloo

Sometimes these bans can be head-scratchers, which is true of the 1990s ban on ABBA’s ‘Waterloo’. Due to its connotations with armies and fighting, amidst the ongoing Gulf War, BBC deemed it inappropriate to play, despite few actually connecting this song to literal war.

The song peaked at #6 in 1974 in the Billboard 1oo. All together Abba had 20 top 100 songs, 4 top ten, and one #1 with Dancing Queen. I  thought they had more top 10 hits.

This song also reached #1 in Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, and West Germany.

From Songfacts

Waterloo is the place where Napoleon Bonaparte met his defeat at an epic battle in 1815. This song uses the battle as a metaphor for a woman who gives in and falls in love with a man – he’s her “Waterloo.”

Originally recorded in Swedish, it was ABBA’s Swedish version that won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, giving the band a huge career boost.

This was one of many ABBA hits used in the 1994 movie Muriel’s Wedding.

Even though this song constantly repeats the name of the battle that spelled the end of Napoleon’s empire, the French, like the rest of Europe, was more than happy to buy this song in large quantities. The single spent 12 weeks on the French charts, peaking at #3. In Belgium, where the Battle of Waterloo took place, this song spent five weeks at #1.

ABBA not only recorded this song in their native Swedish and then in English but they also recorded a version in French for the French markets and one in German for the German markets. There is also a version in both French and Swedish that is an overdubbing of both the Swedish and French versions.

Waterloo

My my
At Waterloo Napoleon did surrender
Oh yeah
And I have met my destiny in quite a similar way
The history book on the shelf
Is always repeating itself
Waterloo I was defeated, you won the war
Waterloo promise to love you for ever more
Waterloo couldn’t escape if I wanted to
Waterloo knowing my fate is to be with you
Waterloo finally facing my Waterloo

My my
I tried to hold you back, but you were stronger
Oh yeah
And now it seems my only chance is giving up the fight
And how could I ever refuse
I feel like I win when I lose
Waterloo I was defeated, you won the war
Waterloo promise to love you for ever more
Waterloo couldn’t escape if I wanted to
Waterloo knowing my fate is to be with you
Waterloo finally facing my Waterloo

So how could I ever refuse
I feel like I win when I lose
Waterloo I was defeated, you won the war
Waterloo promise to love you for ever more
Waterloo couldn’t escape if I wanted to
Waterloo knowing my fate is to be with you
Waterloo finally facing my Waterloo

 

ABBA – Take A Chance On Me

ABBA dominated the charts in the seventies. Love them or hate them, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson could write catchy and well-produced pop songs. This song charted at #3 in the Billboard 100 and #1 in the UK in 1978.

Agnetha Fältskog and  Anni-Frid Lyngstad sang lead on most of the songs. They had a total of 20 songs in the top 100, 4 top ten songs and 1 number one song which was Dancing Queen. They have sold over 375 million singles and albums as of 2010.

Bjorn Ulvaeus enjoyed jogging and as he ran he sang a “tck-a-ch”-style rhythm to himself. This evolved into the line “Take a Chance on Me,” around which he wrote the rest of the words.

From Songfacts

Ulvaeus in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh: “I remember that Benny didn’t like the line, ‘We could go dancing, we could go walking,’ but in the end we went with it.”

This was also #1 in Austria, Belgium, Ireland and Mexico.

Although unlike “Dancing Queen” this didn’t top the US chart, it did sell more than the chart topper.

The working title was “Billy Boy.”

In 1992 Erasure recorded Abba-esque, an EP made up of 4 ABBA songs. It became their first UK #1 and kick-started an Abba revival. One of the songs on it was “Take A Chance On Me,” which they did Techno style spliced up with a Ragga section. Andy Bell in 1000 UK #1 Hits recalls: “The ABBA EP was commercial and fun, but a throwaway project for us to do because it was only 4 songs. And because they were written by the same writers it was easy for us to do. The ABBA stuff was originally going to be an album project, but then we were glad we didn’t do that, because we were pretty swamped by ABBA anyway.” >>

John McCain is a huge ABBA fan and after being elected as the Republican candidate for the 2008 presidential elections, he vowed to have ABBA songs played “in elevators all over the White House” if elected. McCain apparently pumps himself up by listening to this song at full volume before making a big speech and he contacted the Swedish group to get permission to use this number as his official campaign anthem. However it appears they priced him out of the market, as McCain was forced to admit to reporters: “It gets expensive in a big hurry.” It’s possible that ABBA just didn’t want to be associated with the Republican Party.

This song appeared, among others, in the Mamma Mia! soundtrack and musical starring Pierce Brosnan, Meryl Streep and Colin Firth. The song is performed in the movie by Julie Walters and Stellan Skargaard. 

Take A Chance On Me

If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try

Take a chance on me
(That’s all I ask of you honey)
Take a chance on me

We can go dancing, we can go walking, as long as we’re together
Listen to some music, maybe just talking, get to know you better
‘Cos you know I’ve got
So much that I wanna do, when I dream I’m alone with you
It’s magic
You want me to leave it there, afraid of a love affair
But I think you know
That I can’t let go

If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie
If you put me to the test, if you let me try

Take a chance on me
(Come on, give me a break will you?)
Take a chance on me

Oh you can take your time baby, I’m in no hurry, know I’m gonna get you
You don’t wanna hurt me, baby don’t worry, I ain’t gonna let you
Let me tell you now
My love is strong enough to last when things are rough
It’s magic
You say that I waste my time but I can’t get you off my mind
No I can’t let go
‘Cos I love you so

If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
If you need me, let me know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)

Ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba baa
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me
Gonna do my very best, baby can’t you see
Gotta put me to the test, take a chance on me
(Take a chance, take a chance, take a chance on me)

Ba ba ba ba baa, ba ba ba ba baa ba-ba
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me