ABBA vs. Mamma Mia!

Recently at the end of this summer, I saw “Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again in the theatre. I was telling my friend how I loved the way the director, Ol Parker, executed the musical so that every song stuck to its original message ABBA had originally intended. My favorite is Slipping Through My Fingers,” which told the story of a daughter leaving her mother’s home. It makes me emotional every time I hear it. It blew my mind, however, that some people had no idea who ABBA was before the movies were released. Growing up in a household where ABBA was almost played religiously, I knew all the songs featured in both movies. It almost makes me mad when people tell me they love “Mamma Mia!” because I am not sure you can say that you’re a true fan if you didn’t know any of the songs before even watching the movie. And no, if the only song you knew was “Mamma Mia”, that does not count.


I hope after you all read this article that you will learn a little more about ABBA and how their success literally lasted centuries which caused this amazing movie to be released (I learned many new things after writing this).

The name “ABBA” is an acronym for all the members’ names. Björn Ulvaeus was originally a member to the Hootenanny Singers. In 1966, he met Benny Andersson, and they began to write songs together. The other two members were their wives. Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus were married in 1971, and Anni-Frid (also known as Frida) Lyungstad was married to Benny Andersson by 1978. The four were a Swedish pop group formed in Stockholm in 1972. It wasn’t until 1974 when they won the special international contest “Eurovision Song Contest” with their hit “Waterloo”. ABBA was well-known throughout their hometown and Europe long before the United States; however, by the time their fully-established fame was present, it was already 1976. The group was known for being two happy couples who shared a love of music together. The group followed in the Hootenanny Singers’ footsteps by going into the same record label as them: Polar Music.


The downfall, in my opinion, began in 1978. Ulvaeus and Faltskog announced their divorce. The group remained together despite of this, but it took a toll on the image of the two happy couples that loved to create music together. This was then followed by Andersson and Lyungstad’s divorce. The group remained together for the next few years, but the energy in the creation of new music together decreased and the group started to work on separate projects.


In 1982, ABBA called for a break with the hope that, maybe in a few years, they would create more music together again. Unfortunately, this never happened, but all of the background was set up for the movies. In 2008, the movie “Mamma Mia!starring Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried was released. This musical has created conversation with numerous amounts of people I know. Every time they tell me they’re listening to one of their songs, it’s usually always the musical version. But have you ever tried listening to the original ABBA version?

As much as I liked the songs in the movies, it was difficult for me to hear the songs being performed with different voices than the original group. Not going to lie, it pained me to hearOur Last Summersung by Pierce Brosnan. He is a good singer, yes, but it ruined the song for me because it was sung by a man instead of a woman from ABBA (maybe other fans feel the same way). I also don’t know how I feel about Meryl Streep’s version of “The Winner Takes It All.” I grew up singing that song with my sister and it was one of our favorites. I was disappointed with her high notes, but the music might have been changed to fit Streep’s vocals as it should have been. Streep has a beautiful voice, but I didn’t think it fit the song. However, I can’t forget ABBA’s original range for that song, and that’s something I didn’t expect to change.


I didn’t realize they had two different directors for the movies. I thought the second movie was better; however, less of Meryl Streep was a letdown because her presence in the first movie was everything. Meryl Streep is a queen and can sing on my grave.

The “Mamma Mia! movies follow a girl who is getting married at the Greek Islands and she doesn’t know who her real dad is. After finding her mother’s diary, the daughter Sophie invites the men involved with her mom to find who her real dad is in order to find out who will be able to walk her down the aisle. In the second movie, however, Sophie is on her own and making the hotel look perfect for her mom who has passed away years later. In addition to this, Sophie is pregnant, and there are flashbacks to the past that show how her mom survived through the chaos of being on her own while she had Sophie.


In the end, however, it really is your decision whether ABBA or “Mamma Mia! is better. Even decades later, ABBA is still popular within our generation... except it’s through Mamma Mia!