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In becoming the most significant Swedish music export, ABBA transformed the pop and disco landscape across the globe. In 1966, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, both veterans of multiple bands, began writing songs while simultaneously performing with their respective girlfriends, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. While on vacation together in 1970, the two couples decided to start performing as a group. Their contribution to the 1973 Swedish segment of the Eurovision song contest, “Ring Ring,” garnered attention and, by the next year, the group had changed its name to ABBA. The same year, “Waterloo” was entered into the contest and won the top Eurovision prize.
In 1975, a series of hits, beginning with “S.O.S.,” broke into American, British, and non-English-speaking markets and established the group as an international pop force. The next year, Greatest Hits was released, featuring the group’s singles from its first three albums and, in the US and UK, the new single “Fernando,” which became a transatlantic hit. As established superstars, the group members embarked on their first major tour in 1977. The subsequent album, ABBA: The Album, and a companion film, ABBA: The Movie, were released by the end of the year.
Through 1982 they continued touring in the United States and Japan, released three more albums, and planned their final recording sessions. That year, the group went on an extended hiatus, despite members continuing to perform and record with other projects, which lasted through 2016 when they reunited and, in 2018, announced that they had recorded new material. During the extended hiatus, the music of ABBA assumed a life of its own as the success of the musical/film Mamma Mia and continued sales of ABBA albums, especially Greatest Hits, ensured that the band’s music maintained a contemporary importance.