In 1974 the Eurovision Song Contest winning song “Waterloo” skyrocketed ABBA to international stardom

Unexpectedly, the Swedish band aside of breaking several Eurovision established conventions, became the most popular act ever to perform in the Eurovision and the first to chart in the United States and other countries outside the European continent

In 1974 the Eurovision Song Contest winning song “Waterloo” skyrocketed ABBA to international stardom

“Waterloo” by ABBA, remains the biggest international hit coming from the Eurovision Song Contest. The song, written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Stig Anderson, was composed specifically to be entered into the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, after the group finished third with “Ring Ring” the previous year in the Swedish pre-selection contest. Back then, ABBA were already a popular band in their home country of Sweden, but nothing could guess the phenomenal worldwide popularity that was coming their way. Initially titled “Honey Pie”, it was re-titled “Waterloo” and produced using the Phil Spector’s technique “Wall of Sound”, featuring multiple instrumental overdubs on the band’s recordings, that would became an integral part of ABBA’s signature sound.

When the popular Eurovision, European song contest, took place on 6 April 1974 in the United Kingdom, the single had already been released in Swedish, backed originally with “Honey, Honey” on March 4, 1974, but the song was still only considered a local hit in Sweden only. When ABBA went on stage to perform “Waterloo” live for millions of people all over the European continent, it was an instant win: the band gave the audience something that had more rarely been seen before in Eurovision: Glam Rock style flashy costumes, including silver platform boots, plus a catchy uptempo song and even simple choreography, features that would become a trademark of the contest in years to come and endure to this day.But also, and there also lies one of the keys for the international success of the song, ABBA broke from convention by being the first winning entry in a language other than that of their home country as prior to 1973 all Eurovision singers had been required to sing in their country’s native tongue, a restriction that was lifted briefly for the contests between 1973 and 1976 contests and ultimately being removed again in 1999. This helped the band to break into other music markets, including the U.K and the hardest of all to European artists: the United States. On August 6, 1974, they achieved the unthinkable and became the first Swedish band to score a Top 10 hit at the U.S Hot 100, on position 6; but only two years later they peaked to No.1 on that same chart with their Disco hit No. 1 “Dancing Queen”. In the U.K they peaked to No.1, the first of their nine chart topping entries in the country. But also all across Europe it topped and ruled the charts and was even recorded in different languages for a wider audience appeal. Throughout the rest of the 1970’s and early 1980’s, ABBA ruled the charts with their amazing string of catchy and instantly recognizable Pop songs. The band split in 1982, leaving millions of fans worldwide craving for a comeback, which happened in the form of a new studio album and a virtual series of live shows using holograms of the band at their peak. At the 50th anniversary celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005, “Waterloo” was chosen as the best song in the competition’s history.

Look back at the iconic ABBA’s winning performance of “Waterloo” at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, including the band’s presentation

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