Monday, July 07, 2008

Home is where Abba is

I've been a lot more excited about the movie version of Mamma Mia! than the stage one, mostly due to Meryl Streep's presence. But for some reason it belatedly occurred to me that I could see it on vacation in about ten days…in Stockholm!

The release of the movie has thrust Abba back in the spotlight, with the four members appearing together at the Swedish premiere. I'm very happy, however, to hear Benny and Björn state one more time that the band isn't going to reunite, no matter how much they get paid. What's a little less good is the avalanche of articles offering backhanded compliment to the band. One in The Independent, at least, looks more closely than usual to the craft behind the glitz. I particularly agree with the line "In Britain and America, bands had Рand still have Рa huge reverence for tradition and an obsession with authenticity. Scandi-pop doesn't have to pay homage to old bluesmen, or agonise about keeping it real. It can just grab whatever sounds best and feels right."

Of course there's also the usual blather about Abba's lyrics. The author remarks that they're not any more clunky that Chris de Burgh's "Lady in Red," but this is faint praise again—almost anything is swifter than "Lady in Red." It'd be more daring, and more honest, to say Abba's lyrics aren't any clunkier than those by Chris Martin, Duffy, Mariah Carey or, to mention just one major Abba pilferer, Madonna: "I don't like cities, but I like New York/Other places make me feel like a dork/Los Angeles is for people who sleep/Paris and London, baby you can keep." Oy. And unlike Abba, English is these people's native language.

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