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Waterloo and the cunning Brits

Olle Lindeborg/AFP/Getty Images

Britain’s relationship with Abba got off to a rocky start, the group’s songwriter and guitarist Bjorn Ulvaeus told the BBC this week. Back in 1974, the UK gave the band nul points for their Eurovision performance of Waterloo. Ulvaeus wonders whether it was tactical. “The Brits were the first ones to embrace us after winning”, but it was “kind of strange they would give us zero points. It sounds like they were trying to do something cunning.”

Maybe it was Eurovision politics, says James Hall in the Telegraph. Or maybe it was because Waterloo is “naff, naive and unoriginal”. Don’t get me wrong, “I adore Abba”, but Waterloo is, “to coin a word, an Abba-rration in their canon”.

Still, the Swedes were victorious and Brits grew to love them. In 1977, Abba played two shows at the Royal Albert Hall and 3.5 million people applied for tickets. That’s enough to fill the venue 580 times over. Next year, they will be back on tour after a 40-year hiatus – only this time as holograms. Yes, instead of travelling the world, Abba are creating avatars to do the job for them, reports Ed Potton in The Times. It’s ideal, Ulvaeus tells Potton, as “none of us is keen to go on tour”.

And no wonder – the group’s romantic history is dodgy at best. The four members were couples but both marriages ended in divorce. Luckily, they all found love again. Frida even married a prince. Meanwhile, Ulvaeus married a music journalist and recently told The Guardian that, aged 75, he only has sex four times a week. They were all romantics. In fact, “love” is probably my favourite word, says Ulvaeus, “despite its drawbacks in the rhyming department”.