How the Beatles Influenced ABBA’s ‘Waterloo’
Bjorn Ulvaeus reveals that the Beatles were the “biggest inspiration“ behind ABBA’s 1974 hit “Waterloo.”
During an upcoming appearance on Apple Music 1’s Deep Hidden Meaning Radio with host Nile Rodgers, the ABBA co-founder revisited the track’s creation.
“It's about four people wanting more than anything else to be a pop group and singing in the language of pop, which is English. And our biggest inspiration were the Beatles. And we so much wanted to be that pop group,” Ulvaeus explains in the episode, which airs tomorrow. “I think ‘Waterloo’ is in a tradition of pure pop and in the tradition of the fantastic music that was written around at the end of the '50s, beginning of the '60s, in the Brill Building and Carole King and [Gerry] Goffin, and then the Beatles. So the true pop songs, the really good pop songs, that's where we were coming from. And that's what we wanted to express with ‘Waterloo.’”
The song helped ABBA break through internationally after it won the Eurovision song contest. Ulvaeus admitted they entered the event to reach a wider audience.
Watch ABBA's 'Waterloo' Video
“At that point, at that time Eurovision was the only way out to reach out of Sweden. You never heard anything coming out of Sweden at that time,” he explains. “I swear to you that we sent so many demo tapes to U.K. and American record companies and they didn't even listen to them, because how could anything good come out of Sweden? That was a fact. The only way for us to be listened to outside Sweden was through Eurovision. So we wrote for Eurovision and we chose a song that was not typical for Eurovision in any way, but something that would stand out, that would be different from the rest of the stuff."
“Anyway, I never thought we'd win. But I thought that with outrageous costumes and a song that wasn't like the other songs we would stand out and maybe have a chance to build a career from that platform. And of course, we won it and we had a huge hit.”
“Waterloo” peaked at No. 6 in the U.S. and reached the Top 5 in 17 other countries. It has since been voted the best song in Eurovision’s 65-year history. You can watch a clip of the interview below.