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Eurolysing Lyrics l ABBA with "Waterloo" (1974)

We are going to have another new series of articles on Eurovoxx. This time are we are digging into lyrics and the meaning of them. Sometimes you can forget lyrics when you listen to the song completely and don't think about what message they want to convey. The first song I'm going to analyse is "Waterloo" that was composed by the pop group ABBA and won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 for Sweden.

I'm going to go through three categories to analyse a song that I have picked for the week. These categories are perspective, that means the perspective of the singer if they tell their own story or not for an example. Themes, if it's obvious or not to use a certain theme to build a structure in the song. Last category is instrumentation, how effective it is to use different types of instruments and what emotions the instrumentation make us feel.

The song was written by Stig Anderson and the music was composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, but in the end it was Benny and Björn that had to finish composing the song's production. The song was from the beginning to be initiated as "Honey Pie", but was later changed to the current name of the song.

They won with 24 points in the Eurovision Song Contest 1974 that was held in Brighton, United Kingdom. On the 50th anniversary of Eurovision Song Contest in 2005 "Waterloo" was voted to be the greatest song in the entire history of the competition.

ABBA's songs have been so popular that they have been in two musical movies called "Mamma Mia!" and "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" starring big stars as Amanda Seyfried, Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. These movies were created to make a tribute to how much ABBA have changed the music industry and how it still effects the entertainment industry to this modern day.


"Waterloo" is a song about a woman who falls in love with a man she surrenders to, like when the French military leader Napoleon surrendered at the battle of Waterloo in 1815. The woman in the song refers the man she is chasing as her "Waterloo".

ABBA doesn't tell a direct story in the song about themselves, but it can be implemented in real life about wanting love, chasing for it and not getting what you want to please your own happiness. It can also be a story about a woman who is obsessed about her thought of getting this man at any price. Being heartbroken is something most of us have been experiencing during our lifetime and this song have a deeper message than you can think of. Talking about harmony we have to include how good the vocalists Agnetha Fältskog and Ann-Frid Lyngstad are. This might be seen as just another pop song, but singing it out with passion like they do with this song, so that you don't forget it. Their vocal is so classic and you immediately recognise who sings the song when you listen to it.


To structure a song with a theme is also a way to tell a story to the listener. "Waterloo" is a great example of choosing a theme like a special event in history. But also choosing a storyline with a woman through her perspective of loving a man she can't have.


Instrumentation in the song has a very strong relation to an acoustic piano that sets the role in the song as much as the vocals do. An electric guitar is also used to give it more depth and density to the relation with the more uplifting notes from the piano. It's not so much change in the tempo of the song, it's almost the same tempo through the whole song, with some changes in the chorus. What type of emotions can you get by just listening to the instrumentation? By the tempo, you should feel a cheering feeling and desire wanting to move your body when you listen to the song.

Conclusion: My thoughts

For a Swedish person like myself it's surreal sometimes to think that just a classic song like this changed so much. As a Eurovision fan you feel proud of having a history like this in our baggage. The song itself doesn't always make me think about the meaning of it. It's because it's a pop song that is covered by the hooked tempo in the instrumentation, that makes you want to dance to it. If you really think about the message of this song, it can make you feel for this woman who feels a desire to be loved.

ABBA performing with "Waterloo" in Brighton, United Kingdom in 1974

What is your relationship to ABBA's song "Waterloo"?

Tell us in the comment below or on our social media.

#Eurolysinglyric #ABBA #Sweden

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