The mockery of pop stars who write songs about how tough their lives are is as routinised as any of the tour grind they complain about: a reliable cue to take a celebrity down a peg. “Super Trouper” seems to have escaped this, maybe because ridicule was diverted to its silly, awkward title – or maybe because its exhausted candour rings too true. “Wishing every show was the last show”; “bored of a success that never ends”; “how can anyone be so lonely?” – as sung here these aren’t just the decadent complaints of over-indulged divas, they’re the sound of a miserable woman who’s stuck on a golden treadmill and wants off.
The figleaf these sentiments are clothed in – she wants to escape into the arms of a lover – is hardly convincing. The feelings are too stark, the wash-out in Frida’s voice too obvious, for even that lovely soaring middle eight to seem like anything but fantasy. No, this is ABBA hitting a wall, an apt last number one for the band.
As a song? It’s good – flashes of greatness (Frida’s vocals; the middle eight again, with its last hurrah of “Dancing Queen” piano grandeur; harmonies on point throughout), but moments of clumsiness too. That repeated keyboard riff at the beginning feels heavy-handed, and of course there’s the “soo-pah-pah troo-pah-pah” backing vocals, which emphasise that it’s really not a great idea to name a song (let alone a whole album!) after a brand of spotlight. True to its topic, “Super Trouper”’s an uneasy mix of introspection and crowd-pleasing, a half-hearted cheer before the band slip finally into their private ice age.