When unknown ABBA sang ‘Waterloo’ in its original Swedish for their breakthrough TV appearance
27 November 2020, 17:04 | Updated: 27 November 2020, 17:17
Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad made their breakthrough TV appearance competing for a place at Eurovision on Swedish TV show 'Melodifestival' on February 9, 1974.
When the four members of ABBA sang their new song 'Waterloo' in its original Swedish, dressed in glam rock inspired by the 1970's English music scene, viewers knew they'd seen something special.
The appearance on Melodifestival in 1974 the TV talent competition to choose Sweden's Eurovision entry, saw ABBA win the hearts of the Swedish audience and go on to become the champions of Eurovision, all within a matter of months.
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The band's February 9 TV appearance was their third time competing on Melodifestival, making them much more experienced and prepared for the Eurovision Song Contest and their subsequent rise to fame.
See more: The Story of... 'Waterloo' by ABBA
Hosted by the UK in 1974 and filmed in Brighton, ABBA sang 'Waterloo' in English for the Eurovision final where the song scored 24 points to win the competition on 6 April.
A restrictive rule that entries must sing in their country's mother tongue was briefly lifted between 1973 and 1976, before being discarded permanently in 1999, meaning ABBA gave the audience something never before seen at Eurovision: a winning entry singing a song in a language other than their own.
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'Waterloo' was ABBA's first number-one single in the UK and in the United States, the song reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The song has since sold nearly six million copies making it one of the highest-selling singles in history, and has since been voted the best Eurovision song of all time at the contest's 50th anniversary in 2005.
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Speaking in May earlier this year after the announcement of Eurovision's cancellation due to COVID-19, ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus spoke on a TV special about his 1974 Eurovision win and said the contest was "One hell of a launching pad."
See more: Eurovision: ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus' emotional speech will make you cry
"It still remains one of the most genuinely joyous events in the TV year and it’s so disarmingly European, it so allows you to escape and be happy. Even forget about the coronavirus for a little while.
"Everybody knows why there couldn’t be the usual Eurovision final this year but we hope this year’s show will comfort you in some small way, knowing that it'll be back next year."