Although ABBA is a Swedish band formed in Stockholm in 1972 with the legendary lineup consisting of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, they managed to become one of the most well-known bands in the entire world.
After they won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song ‘Waterloo’ in 1974, ABBA started becoming an unstoppable phenomenon all over the globe. However, if it weren’t for one of the most significant turning points in their career, the band wouldn’t have been able to gain their rightful place under the spotlight.
That career-defining decision was to make music in English instead of their own language, Swedish, which would allow them to reach more audiences. There’s one member who encouraged others about the shift in their language preference, and Benny Andersson once revealed it to their fans.
While Björn Ulvaeus was a member of the Hootenanny Singers and Benny Andersson was working with the Hep Stars, their paths crossed while touring. In June 1966, Ulvaeus and Andersson decided to write a song together named ‘Isn’t It Easy to Say,’ later recorded by The Hep Stars.
Realizing that their collaboration had great potential, the duo started occasionally joining each other’s bands on stage. Their chemistry eventually led to the formation of ABBA, and they released songs in Swedish during their earlier days.
However, Björn Ulvaeus was quite experienced with writing English songs as he had written in English for his former band. Since the band was determined to break into the international mainstream music market, Ulvaeus offered his bandmates to write and sing in English.
Benny Andersson revealed the details of this offer during a 2017 interview with the Big Issue. Apparently, everything that led to their Eurovision win and global success started when his bandmate Björn offered to write English songs, the first of which was their hit song, ‘People Need Love.’
Recalling the formation of ABBA, Andersson said:
“Abba came together organically. Björn met Agnetha and got engaged and at almost the same time I met Frida. They were solo artists, I had my band and Björn had his. Then Björn and I made a record called Lycka, which means ‘happiness’. For one song we asked our wives to come in for backing vocals and all of a sudden, wow.
They sound good, we don’t! Björn said we should try to write pop music and sing in English. That was 1972 and we wrote ‘People Need Love,’ which they do. It became a hit. After that, to make people realize we guys from the North Pole exist, we decided to enter the Eurovision Song Contest. All of a sudden, we had an audience that was not just in Sweden. That felt really good.”
From then on, the Swedish band managed to become one of the most popular and successful musical groups of all time. Furthermore, they are one of the best-selling music acts in the history of popular music.