By Chuck Klosterman

Originally accrued in Eating the Dinosaur and now on hand either as a stand-alone essay and within the book assortment Chuck Klosterman on Pop, this essay is ready ABBA.

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And London. They had an intense Tin Pan Alley professionalism (if Björn and Benny felt like writing an uptempo T. Rex song, they’d just sit down and knock off “Watch Out” in three hours), but they were also laissez-faire Scandinavian hippies who didn’t have to worry about crime or sexual mores or health care. 3 ABBA wanted to reach audiences in America, but they lacked a framework for what that entailed. Their best option was to make one up. They tried to create a simulacrum for how the American pop ethos appeared to objective Swedish outsiders.

But a better way is to view ABBA in 1989 like AC/DC in ’99—they were neither germane nor extraneous. They were not attempting to replicate or refute anything else that was happening in pop; they were living in ABBA World, where ABBA Music is the only sound that exists. 3 It’s difficult to say anything new or insightful about ABBA, mostly because they’ve already absorbed every possible criticism and accolade that a musical act can entertain. They first became famous after winning the televised Eurovision Song Contest, which is sort of an Old World precursor to American Idol; it took them three tries, but they finally won in ’74.

That’s $250 million apiece. If someone reads this book in the year 2110, that will still be a lot of money. But they turned it down. “We had to think about it,” Björn told The Guardian, “because one could build hospitals with that much money . . ” This is crazy for lots of reasons. The first is that I’m sure the main explanation as to why this didn’t happen was because Agnetha (the blond one) did not want to do it (she now lives as a semi-recluse and never enjoyed fame, even while she was pursuing it).

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