Delete
Abba in Brighton in 1974. EFE
Swedes in Nerja celebrate Waterloo victory 50 years on
Eurovision

Swedes in Nerja celebrate Waterloo victory 50 years on

The anniversary of Abba's Eurovision win in Brighton was celebrated by fans around the world, including on the Costa del Sol

Alekk M. Saanders

Nerja

Monday, 8 April 2024, 16:32

Compartir

What do the UK, Sweden, April, Napoleon and Nerja have in common? The answer is Abba, the iconic Swedish band who won the Eurovision Song Contest in the UK on 6 April with the song Waterloo, referring to the end of Napoleon, exactly 50 years ago.

Brighton, because of the cost

Brighton hosted the 19th Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. However, the UK did not have the honour because its representative came first the previous year. Luxembourg had won for the second year in a row in 1973 and refused to host the contest again, citing the cost.

The 1974 event was held at Brighton Dome's Concert Hall on 6 April 1974, and it was hosted for the fourth and final time by Katie Boyle. Seventeen countries participated in the contest; France was absent and Greece debuted. The UK's entrant was Olivia Newton-John, who was already a star and was therefore the clear favourite, and most popular with bookmakers. Gigliola Cinquetti from Italy, who had won Eurovision once before, also had a good chance. Compared to the UK and Italy, Sweden, which had taken part in the song contest since 1958, had never won before, and nobody believed it would happen that year.

Abba and a trip to Malaga

Until 1974, Abba had been unknown outside their home country. However, all four band members achieved relative success in Sweden before joining together to form a supergroup. Blonde Agnetha Fältskog had released her self-titled debut album in 1968. Brunette Anni-Frid Lyngstad began her solo career as a jazz singer in 1967, through a talent competition called New Faces. As for the male half of Abba, Björn Ulvaeus was a member of the Swedish folk-schlager group Hootenanny Singers, formerly known as the West Bay Singers, which was hugely popular in Scandinavia. In 1966, he quickly became friends with Hep Stars keyboard player, Benny Andersson.

In 1971, the Swedish duo landed at Malaga airport to participate in the Costa del Sol International Song Festival

Björn and Benny achieved their first international success after releasing their first album Lycka (meaning 'Happiness' in Swedish) in 1970. Most of the songs featured lead vocals by Björn. One of the songs from the album was performed on the Costa del Sol. In 1971, the Swedish duo landed at Malaga airport to participate in the Costa del Sol International Song Festival.

The song Livet Går Sin Gån' (literally Life Passes By, but translated into English as The Language of Love) was performed in front of ten thousand people gathered in Torremolinos with just a guitar and piano. The Swedish composition may have been the catchiest of the entire festival but not enough to win. The following year, Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid formed a band in Stockholm, using the first initial of each member as the name of the quartet.

Few know that Abba tried to represent Sweden at Eurovision already in 1973, but their song Ring Ring came third in the national qualifying competition

Few know that Abba had tried to represent Sweden at Eurovision in 1973, but their song Ring Ring only came third in the national qualifying competition. In 1974 the band did win with song Waterloo, inspired by the British glam rock scene. It was named after the 1815 Battle of Waterloo (then in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, now Belgium), marking the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The upbeat love song that opens with the words "My my, at Waterloo Napoleon surrendered and I have met my destiny in quite a similar way," was received very well.

If Waterloo was a defeat for the French emperor, the song Waterloo was a triumphant victory in Brighton for the Swedish band, dressed in stylised satin knickerbockers, with glitter and platform heels. Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest with 24 points, with Gigliola Cinquetti coming second with 18 points. The Swedish quartet went on to become one of the most successful bands in Europe, not only at Eurovision.

Watching the show on Saturday in Nerja. A. M. S.
Imagen principal - Watching the show on Saturday in Nerja.
Imagen secundaria 1 - Watching the show on Saturday in Nerja.
Imagen secundaria 2 - Watching the show on Saturday in Nerja.

Celebrations in Sweden, Spain and England

Abba have become the real musical pride of Sweden. Not surprisingly, the 50th anniversary victory was celebrated with pomp in Stockholm, in the presence of the King and Queen (though without the band members) on 6 April. A tribute concert called En Fest För Abba (A party for Abba) featured prominent Swedish artists, a 21-person band and a large choir.

The country's public broadcaster SVT aired the concert live on television and on its streaming service to allow Swedish people abroad and international fans to enjoy Abba songs one more time.

In Nerja, a Costa town particularly popular with Swedish people, the fans reserved some restaurants and bars to celebrate 50 years of Abba's international debut. The Bruxelles restaurant was packed with over 120 people. Alongside the Swedes, Irish, British and Australian guests went to Los Huertos del Sevillano restobar to watch the show on the big screen with drinks and tapas.

The public watched and danced.
The public watched and danced. A.M.S.

"The song Waterloo has sold millions of copies and topped the charts in many countries around the planet. We are very proud of that. On 6 April 1974, Abba changed the Swedish music scene forever. Thanks to Abba, Sweden has become the third musical powerhouse in the world. Moreover, Abba has succeeded in inspiring our talents to conquer the world's musical Olympus. Many people around the world know the Swedish Ace of Base, Army of Lovers, Roxette, E-Type, Europe, A-teens, Avicii, Alcazar and others," said Eva, one of the participants of the event.

The 50th anniversary of the win was celebrated with pomp in Stockholm, in the presence of the King and Queen (though without the band members) on 6 April

Meanwhile last Saturday at Waterloo Station in London, singers and a pianist delighted passengers with a tribute to the song. Fans also gathered for a flash mob in Brighton to celebrate the anniversary.

Reporta un error en esta noticia

* Campos obligatorios