If you hit the clubs in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, chances are you were dancing to songs released by ABBA. The quartet of Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad (aka Frida), and Benny Andersson has sold about 150 million studio albums over almost 50 years and is the most successful pop act to come out of Sweden. Such is ABBA’s importance to Swedish culture, in fact, that the group has its own museum in Stockholm. “Walk In. Dance Out,” says its website. (It was not responsible, however, for any of the 25 biggest hits of the ‘70s according to Billboard.)
To determine the biggest pop hits by ABBA, 24/7 Tempo reviewed performance data on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Songs were ranked based on an inverse score wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point. Chart data is current through the week of Oct. 15, 2022.
After charting 15 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1970s and early 1980s, ABBA broke up in 1982 – but the band’s albums and singles kept selling. In the 1990s, ABBA received renewed interest when its music was played in movies such as “Muriel’s Wedding” and “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert” and past hits such as “Waterloo,” “Fernando,” and “Dancing Queen” were regularly played on oldies radio stations.
More momentum for the foursome grew in 1999 when a jukebox musical based on ABBA songs titled Mamma Mia! (the exclamation point differentiated the show from the song) opened in London’s West End. It was subsequently staged in other countries, including the U.S. In 2008, a motion picture based on the play and starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Amanda Seyfried grossed more than $144 million domestically and more than $611 million worldwide. (See where it falls on our list of the 29 biggest Meryl Streep movies, ranked worst to best.) A sequel, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” was released in 2018.
Last year, the Swedish quartet reunited to record two singles and expanded the recordings into a 10-song album titled “Voyage,” their first LP to be released since “The Visitors” in 1980. It scored two Grammy nominations and has sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide, proving that the group still has hit-making potential.
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