Oh its all Abba all the time round here these days. What with Popular knee deep in the 1970’s. Well Winner Takes It All is 1980’s Abba, and a significantly more jaded, wistful Abba it is too. So rather than talk to much about the track itself (I’d leave that to Tom cos I’m afraid of the spoiler bunny), let’s use this opportunity to talk a bit about the other big Abba sensation this month. The release of Mamma Mia! the film.
The stage version of Mamma Mia! has been fantastically successful, and deservedly so. It did not take a genius to work out that Benny & Bjorn’s music would work well in a musical theatre setting (well, they did make Chess twenty years ago so they themselves noticed). It was however pretty smart to match the tracks to a plot which allows the songs to occasionally touch on the plot whilst being apt for the setting – namely a wedding. We expect to hear Abba at a wedding, so the scenario of a wedding on an idyllic Greek island also works as a perfect setting to hear Abba songs. Tv Writer Catherine Johnson manages to intertwine an interesting and even suspenseful plot around this – whilst being as fluffy as you would want it to be. Compared to the monsters it spawned (particularly anything with Ben Elton’s involvement), it is a remarkable achievement.
And so to the film. A friend of mine went on a press junket yesterday for it and was surprised when most of the questions for the panel – consisting of Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Benny and Bjorn – were aimed at the Abba duo. Who gets to interview Abba these days? And this is the Abba who don’t like people sampling their records, and are quite protective of their rights. Sure Mamma Mia! will make them a lot of money, but they already have a lot of money. Do they really need to see Meryl Streep singing The Winner Takes It All? Because its her who belts it out in the movie.
Actually for your info, here’s the soundtrack listing (with an implicit hint that Stellan Skarsgard is not a great singer):
1. Honey Honey – Seyfried, Amanda & Ashley Lilley/Rachel McDowall
2. Money Money Money – Streep, Meryl & Julie Walters/Christine Baranski
3. Mamma Mia – Streep, Meryl
4. Dancing Queen – Streep, Meryl & Julie Walters/Christine Baranski
5. Our Last Summer – Firth, Colin & Pierce Brosnan/Stellan Skarsgard/Amanda Seyfried/Meryl Streep
6. Lay All Your Love On Me – Cooper, Dominic & Amanda Seyfried
7. Super Trouper – Streep, Meryl & Julie Walters/Christine Baranski
8. Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight) – Seyfried, Amanda & Ashley Lilley/Rachel McDowall
9. Name Of The Game – Seyfried, Amanda
10. Voulez Vous – Full Cast
11. SOS – Brosnan, Pierce & Meryl Streep
12. Does Your Mother Know – Baranski, Christine & Philip Michael
13. Slipping Through My Fingers – Streep, Meryl & Amanda Seyfried
14. Winner Takes It All – Streep, Meryl
15. When All Is Said And Done – Brosnan, Pierce & Meryl Streep
16. Take A Chance On Me – Walters, Julie & Stellan Skarsgard/Colin Firth/Philip Michael/Christine Baranski
17. I Have A Dream – Seyfried, Amanda
18. Thank You For The Music (hidden track) – Full Cast
How is this as a list of Abba greats? A few surprises maybe. Thankfully they have not considered a way of slipping Fernando in there (actually if I remember rightly Chiquitita may have been excised from the stage version). Interesting to see if they deal with the Glasgow issue in Super Trouper.
Will it do what they call boffo box office? There seems to be an undercurrent of interest in it, and everyone I know who has seen the film has liked it. But then I was sceptical about the stage version, but was won over. The interesting thing is the very faithful backing tracks coupled with the more interesting deliveries (here is a link to Pierce Brosnan singing S.O.S. which isn’t great). But hey I’m a sap, I like musicals. And with that I will leave you with the 42 best track of all time, but sung by Meryl Streep. Sorry Agnetha and Frida.