ABBA's 20 greatest ever songs, ranked

11 May 2024, 01:30

ABBA's greatest songs
ABBA's greatest songs. Picture: ABBA/YouTube

By Tom Eames

Picking the best ABBA songs is an almost impossible task, but we've given it a go!

Considering they had SO MANY classic hits in such a relatively short period, it certainly makes ABBA one of the greatest pop bands of all time.

Here are our top picks for the very best of Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny and Bjorn...

  1. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme

    Abba - Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)

    This song originally had the title 'Under My Sun', and it later formed as the title and theme tune of the 1990s sitcom of the same name starring Kathy Burke.

    In 2005, Madonna heavily sampled it in her huge number one single 'Hung Up'.

  2. Thank You for the Music

    Abba - Thank You For The Music (Official Video)

    This song was originally featured on the group's fifth album The Album in 1977, but became more famous when it was released as a single in late 1983, to promote the compilation album of the same name.

    It became something of an unofficial swansong for the group, as it was their final ever single.

  3. Does Your Mother Know

    Abba - Does Your Mother Know (Official Video)

    This song was strange in that it was an ABBA hit that had lead vocals from Björn rather than either of the two female members!

    It is thought to be a pastiche of 1950s/early 1960s-style rock and roll, and touches on the subject of a man responding to the flirting of a much younger girl, though it’s never stated just how young the girl is.

    It was used in a humorous scene in Johnny English, when Rowan Atkinson’s bumbling agent accidentally broadcasts to the world a video of himself singing along to the tune in his bathroom.

  4. Waterloo

    Abba - Waterloo

    This was the song that catapulted ABBA into the public consciousness. It helped them win the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest held in Brighton, and ABBAmania was born.

    The song is about a woman who "surrenders" to a man and promises to love him, referring to Napoleon's surrender at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. It's not often you get a history lesson in a pop tune.

  5. Money, Money, Money

    Abba - Money, Money, Money

    This track is sung from the perspective of a woman who, despite her hard work, can barely keep her finances in order, and therefore is looking for a well-off man.

    Its video was inspired by the film Cabaret, and showed Frida wearing a hat typical of the 1920s.

  6. Slipping Through My Fingers

    ABBA - Slipping Through My Fingers (LYRICS + FULL SONG)

    This heartbreaking song is about a mother's regret at how quickly her daughter has grown up, and the lack of time they have spent together, as the girl starts going to school.

    It was inspired by Bjorn and Agnetha's daughter, Linda Ulvaeus, who was seven at the time.

  7. The Name of the Game

    Abba - The Name Of The Game (Official Video)

    A number one single for ABBA in the UK, the opening riff of the song was inspired by Stevie Wonder's 'I Wish', with both Benny and Bjorn saying they were inspired by Wonder's music during this era of ABBA.

    It was also the last time their manager Stig Anderson helped with the band's lyrics on a single, with Benny and Bjorn taking over from then on.

  8. The Day Before You Came

    ABBA - The Day Before You Came

    One of ABBA's most unique songs came towards the end, with lyrics by Bjorn based on Benny's melody, and sung by Agnetha.

    "The tune is narrative in itself, and relentless," said Bjorn. "That almost monotonous quality made me think of this girl who was living in a sort of gloominess and is now back in that same sense of gloom."

    His idea for a theme was "a woman recounting all the dull, ordinary things she “guessed she must have done the day before she had a highly charged encounter with a man" and began a relationship that would end unhappily: "He has left her, and her life has returned to how it ‘must have been’ before she met him."

  9. Super Trouper

    Abba - Super Trouper

    Anni-Frid took lead vocals on this number one single from 1980.

    The song's title refers to the 'Super Trouper', a make of follow-spot lighting instrument used in large venues.

  10. I Have a Dream

    ABBA - I Have A Dream (Official Lyric Video)

    This song narrowly missed out on the Christmas number one of 1979, losing out to Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick in the Wall'.

    However, 20 years later, Westlife achieved the feat with a cover of the classic ballad.

  11. Voulez-Vous

    Abba - Voulez-Vous (Official Video)

    This disco anthem was the title track to ABBA's 1979 album.

    The song came about during a songwriting trip to the Bahamas, and was partly recorded at Critera Studios, where the Bee Gees made their disco-era records.

  12. One of Us

    Abba - One Of Us (Official Video)

    This was one of a number of tracks that dealt with the darker side of love, and it was written by Bjorn and Benny as their divorces were influencing their music.

    The song is about a woman trying to revive a relationship she herself had ended.

  13. Fernando

    Abba - Fernando

    This classic ballad was not originally released by ABBA, but by band member Anni-Frid Lyngstad. It was featured on her Swedish solo album Frida ensam.

    It was composed by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and was initially titled 'Tango'. The suggestion of the name 'Fernando' was provided by their limousine driver Peter Forbes in Shepperton.

  14. Chiquitita

    Abba - Chiquitita

    Originally, this was called 'In The Arms Of Rozellita'. Bjorn liked the title but couldn't find a decent story, so it became 'Chiquitita' instead.

    It is often associated with Christmas, as it was released around the festive season and includes a snow-filled music video.

  15. Take a Chance on Me

    Abba - Take A Chance On Me (Official Video)

    This was one of ABBA's first singles in which their manager Stig Anderson did not contribute lyrics, helping to establish Benny and Bjorn as a songwriting partnership.

    Bjorn's hobby was running at the time, and while out one day he would sing a "tck-a-ch"-style rhythm to himself, which evolved into "take-a-chance".

  16. Mamma Mia

    Abba - Mamma Mia (Official Video)

    This song was written at the home of Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus, but it was never intended as a single. They actually offered it to their British equivalents, Brotherhood of Man, who turned it down. What were they thinking!?

    The song ended up being used as the title of the humongously successful musical and movie series.

  17. SOS

    Abba - SOS (Official Video)

    Bjorn Ulvaeus has said that, after three years of trying to work out what style ABBA should stick with, they finally found its identity as a pop group with this song.

    It started an amazing run of 18 consecutive Top 10 hits in the UK and Ireland.

  18. Knowing Me, Knowing You

    Abba - Knowing Me, Knowing You (Official Video)

    This was one of the first ABBA songs to tackle the break-up of a relationship in its lyrics. It came out before the divorces of the ABBA members, as well as further classic break-up songs to come.

    Benny Andersson later named it as one of ABBA's best recordings, and we can't help but agree!

  19. The Winner Takes it All

    Abba - The Winner Takes It All (Official Video)

    Bjorn has denied that his heartbreaking ballad is about his and Agnetha's divorce. However, he has said that is about divorce in general and the emotions that come with it.

    The song put Agnetha in the strange situation of being asked to sing a breakup song, written by her ex-husband, just a short period afterwards. However, Bjorn didn't intend it to happen this way. She later said it was her favourite ABBA song to perform.

  20. Dancing Queen

    Abba - Dancing Queen (Official Video)

    Arguably their most popular and famous song, it is also one of the greatest disco tunes of all time.

    Agnetha Fältskog said of the song: "It's often difficult to know what will be a hit. The exception was 'Dancing Queen.' We all knew it was going to be massive." Benny Andersson agreed, calling it "one of those songs where you know during the sessions that it's going to be a smash hit."

    Bonus fact: It was apparently the Queen's favourite pop song ever. Honestly.