There. I said it. Goodbye last two readers ...
It seems like heresy to say that Abba are bad. Feels a bit like saying that puppies are bastards or that Dr Who is shit (which I might yet come back to ...) but there you have it. I don't like Abba.
Let me ask you something. If they were not the phenomenon that is Abba, and you just heard one song at random, would you think it was any good, or would you switch off? I would be prepared to bet that you would switch off. And maybe swear at the DJ. Essentially it is just any other bit of low calibre Euro-pop, and if it weren't for Benny and Bjorn's marketing team, we wouldn't be interested.
It's not just the faintly oom-pah melodies that vex me. The lyrics are essentially shit too. I'm reminded endlessly of those Chinese instruction manuals that are ineptly translated into English.
You don't feel the beat of a tambourine, however young you are. "Last show" and "Glasgow" don't technically rhyme. And "the loser's standing small" means nothing. The lyrics of Take A Chance essentially say that, if you've tried EVERYTHING else and NOTHING has worked, then I'll be sitting here waiting for you. Like a loser. Or, in fact, like someone who describes themselves as being nothing special, "in fact I'm a bit of a bore."
What a load of rubbish.
I'd always kept this Abba-hate to myself until a couple of years ago. I was having a small crisis one weekend and had spent some time on the phone to my bestest pal, being counselled and talked from the brink. Later that same morning she called back. "Quick, quick! Turn the radio on! They're doing an Abba special! That's SURE to cheer you up." WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?! It all spilled out, and that was it. My dirty little Abba-hating secret was out, and was met with a stunned silence.
Scroll forward, if you will, to yesterday morning. The afore mentioned friend's daughter is now almost seven. For Christmas she got a portable CD player, and music is her new best hobby. On Wednesday morning her father found her an Abba CD, and, some time during the getting-ready-for-school process, she appeared at her mother's elbow listening to the "Greatest" Hits at top volume, declaring that she would play it for me next time I went to stay.
"Why don't you call her now?" her mother (my former friend) suggested.
And so it was that yesterday morning, before I'd had my first coffee of the day, I answered the phone to a small voice declaring, with glee, "I've got a surprise for you!" Really? What? "Wait a second ..." Long pause. Pause. Pause.
The introduction of Dancing Queen bellowed down the 'phone.
AAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!! Get off my phone!!!
"Hang on," she said, "what about this one?"
GET OFF, GET OFF, GET OFF!!
"Or this one?" she snorted, between giggles.
She could hardly speak for laughing.
"Daddy gave me the CD and Mummy told me to call you!" she hooted.
I had to laugh. I LOVE that she teases me. But I'll need to buy her some ear 'phone's for her birthday, or she and I will fall out.
Feel the beat on THAT tambourine, sweetheart!