Posts Tagged ‘Dancing Queen’

ABBA: The Iconic Band, The Dog, & The Six Degrees of Separation

ABBA — those four letters are iconic!

Yet, for me, they have an added, special meaning.

If you follow me on social media or if you’ve regularly read my blog over the years, “ABBA” instantly makes you think of my beautiful late golden retriever.

If you’re seeing this from anywhere else across the world, the four letters, “ABBA”, instantly identifies one of biggest and the best musical acts ever!

My love of Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny, and Bjorn inspired me to name my dog ABBA and it’s the inspiration for today’s blog — a love letter to the foursome and a big “Thank You For The Music” and for the memories!

As I get into the meat and potatoes of today’s blog, I’ll be sharing a few personal stories that connect me to ABBA — the super group and the dog!

This was my dinner in Gothenburg, Sweden in 2017, which is where Bjorn was born and a city that played a big part in ABBA’s musical history. (Okay, that’s a slight deviation there, but I said this was going to be personal!) 🙂

ALMOST 50 YEARS ALREADY!

We’re not quite there yet, but it’s mind-boggling to think that we’re approaching the 50th anniversary of ABBA’s world domination!

They scored their first Swedish hit, “People Need Love”, in the summer of 1972 as “Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid”, then recorded “Ring Ring” for the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest.

But, it was winning Eurovision the next year, in 1974, with “Waterloo” that propelled ABBA to international fame!

I still listen to ABBA’s music regularly and it brings me just as much joy today as it has over my lifetime!

However, I was inspired to share my stories and my love of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny, and Frida (Anni-Frid) after reading Carl Magnus Palm’s 2001 biography called, “Bright Lights, Dark Shadows: The Real Story of ABBA”, which sat on my bookshelf for almost two decades!

Crazy, right?

What a great read! Check it out!

Growing up in the southern United States (Kentucky) in the early-1970s, I was country when country wasn’t cool!

I was still infatuated with Tanya Tucker, while my teenage cousins (our summer baby sitters) were dancing around to the Carpenters, Olivia Newton-John, and ABBA. But, I was slowly coming around to pop music!

Somehow I acquired the 45 rpm single “SOS” and I was hooked on ABBA!

It was just two years earlier that I bought my first pop single, “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy, at the age of eight!

And, just as I was getting on the ABBA bandwagon as a fan, the international super group was coming undone and were calling it quits.

In the summer of 1980, they released the single, “The Winner Takes It All”.

It was the lead single from the upcoming November album, “Super Trouper”, with Agnetha singing lead.

While Bjorn says the song is about divorce and it’s fiction, he and Agnetha divorced early that year.

Yet, that wasn’t the end. The group would release what would become their last studio album, “The Visitors”, in November 1981.

The lead single in America was “When All Is Said And Done” with Frida singing lead.

Like “The history book on the shelf/Is always repeating itself”, Frida and Benny ended their relationship and divorced earlier in the year!

With both couples in ABBA divorced, new relationships pursued, and outside musical ventures already underway, there was no reason for the band to make new music together.

1990s ABBA-RENAISSANCE

While they hadn’t charted on the American singles charts since early 1983, the world would experience an ABBA-renaissance a decade later!

It started in the summer of 1992, when my favorite English pop group of the 1980s, Erasure, released “Abba-esque”.

That four-song EP featured remakes of the ABBA hits, “Lay All Your Love on Me”, “SOS”, “Take a Chance on Me”, and “Voulez-Vous”.

The duo scored an American Top 10 Dance Club Songs hit with “Take a Chance on Me”.

An ABBA revival was just getting underway and was ready to sweep the world!

After eight studio albums and countless compilation and greatest hits albums in the 1970s and 1980s, the real ABBA was ready to claim their rightful place again in music history.

“ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits”, featuring 19 of the group’s biggest hits, was released in September 1992.

It has gone on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide making it the best-selling ABBA album ever!

In the spring of 1994, I was getting ready to make the biggest (and best) decision of my life.

I was moving from my small hometown of Mayfield, Kentucky (population around 10,000) to Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S. This move would lead to my career as a television meteorologist and it opened the world of international travel to me.

That spring, while packing to move, “ABBA Gold” was on repeat and the song I remember most vividly was “Knowing Me, Knowing You”.

THE BIG SCREEN LOVE AFFAIR WITH ABBA

After the international success of the Erasure album and “ABBA Gold”, the band’s profile would be raised even more in 1994 and 1995 with the release of two Australian dramedies — “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Muriel’s Wedding”.

In “Priscilla”, the movie centers around three drag queens on a cross country trip across the Australian Outback. One of the queens is obsessed with ABBA and two of them perform “Mamma Mia”.

In “Muriel’s Wedding”, socially awkward Muriel spends much of her time fantasizing about a glamorous wedding to get out of Porpoise Spit, Australia, by listening to ABBA (and 1970s music)!

Like in “Priscilla”, Muriel and her friend, Rhonda, perform an ABBA number. They choose “Waterloo”!

After seeing “Muriel’s Wedding” in 1995, I decided that my next dog would be named “ABBA”.

That became a reality in the summer of 2000, when I got my golden retriever. And, yes she was named ABBA!

October 2011

With their chart domination and stardom in the 1970s and with “ABBA Gold” and those two Australian movies in the 1990s, the world already had two chances to fall in love with iconic group.

However, the music of ABBA was getting ready to conquer another entertainment staple and a whole new audience!

ABBA 2.0 — “MAMMA MIA!”

The musical “MAMMA MIA!”, featuring a story line based around the music of ABBA, opened in London in April 1999. Almost a year later, it made its North American debut in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

My personal connection with the musical: Before it opened on Broadway in the fall of 2001, it played at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago that summer, where I first saw it.

Since we got to the venue early, we stopped in at Dunkin’ Donuts, right around the corner. And, you’ll never guess who was standing right in front of me?

It was Louise Pitre, who was playing Donna in Chicago and would originate the role on Broadway! I so wish I had said “hello”, but I let her be!

Pitre earned a Tony nomination in 2002 in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role category!

Worldwide, since 1999, based on limited available data, ‘MAMMA MIA!”, the musical, has grossed almost $2.1 billion (yes, that’s BILLIONS)!!!

BUT, WAIT!!!!

In the summer of 2008, the movie version of “Mamma Mia!” with Meryl Streep in the lead role became an international blockbuster bringing in $615.7 million at the box office.

It spawned a successful sequel in 2018, “Mamma Mia!: Here We Go Again” ($395 million).

There’s even talk of a third movie that may feature new ABBA music!

And, before I share my ten favorite ABBA songs, I have the ultimate connection to the group as if naming your dog after them, isn’t enough. 🙂

It’s like “life imitates art” or “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”!

In late 2016, being the planner that I am, a trip to Scandinavia was booked for August 2017 to see much of Norway, some of Sweden, and Copenhagen, Denmark (loved it)!

However, in early 2017, my ex and I decided to end our eight-year relationship, but the big down payment on the Scandinavian trip was already paid!

So, in true ABBA fashion — the band with their last two albums and us with our trip — we honored our commitment to travel together even as divorced or separated couples!

That was us in Gothenburg, Sweden.

We parted amicably with fond and beautiful memories of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark!

A LITTLE CHART HISTORY FIRST

Okay, let’s kick off the countdown with a little ABBA chart trivia.

Ironically, Australia was one of the ABBA’s biggest success stories, while the U.S. was one of their biggest disappointments! It’s no secret that the band didn’t enjoy touring and that’s vital to success in America!

On the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States, ABBA scored 14 Top 40 hits.

Of those, four reached the Top Ten (“Waterloo” #6, 1974; “Dancing Queen” #1, 1977; “Take a Chance on Me” #3, 1978; and “The Winner Takes It All” #8, 1980).

Shockingly, in the U.S., “Dancing Queen” was the band’s only #1 song on the Hot 100. Yet, when you add in sales and other variables, “Take a Chance on Me” was their biggest hit in America!

MY TEN FAVORITE ABBA SONGS

I narrowed this list down to 23 songs and it was so hard cutting it down to just my ten favorites!

“DANCING QUEEN”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Boogaloo”!

“GIMME! GIMME! GIMME! (A MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT)”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: ABBA rarely allows artists to sample their music, but Madonna was permitted to use the instrumental introduction of this ABBA hit in her #1 2005 smash “Hung Up”!

“SUPER TROUPER”

“TAKE A CHANCE ON ME”

“WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE”

“FERNANDO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Originally recorded for a Frida solo album!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: Spent a record setting 14 weeks at #1 in Australia!

“KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU”

“WATERLOO”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Original working title was “Tango”!

FROM “MURIEL’S WEDDING”

“MAMMA MIA”

FROM “THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT”

“SOS”

INTERESTING TIDBIT: Considered as Agnetha’s first “heartbreak classic”!

INTERESTING TIDBIT #2: I still think Pierce Bronson should be sued for slaughtering (not slaying) the song in the “Mamma Mia!” movie! 😦 🙂

Now that you know my favorite ABBA songs and my history with the band, I have one more confession to make… as a teenager, I had the biggest crush on Benny!

Thank you for taking the time to ready my love letter to ABBA. What are you favorite ABBA songs or memories?

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony

5 Outstanding, Underrated 2018 Albums

Some people like lists and can’t wait until the end of the year to see the best and worst in the world of entertainment.

More and more, people are downloading songs instead of buying albums.  I only bought six this year, but there’s already two on my list for 2019 — new music from Madonna and Reba McEntire!

Before I reveal my five favorite and most underrated albums of 2018, my favorite album last year was “Remnants” by LeAnn Rimes.

remnants

Here are my five favorite albums of 2018!

#5 MOVIE

“JAKE SHEARS” — JAKE SHEARS

Jake

Bonus

Flashback to 2005 and a younger (and oh so sexy) Jake with the Scissor Sisters!

4

“DANCING QUEEN” — CHER

Cher

green 3

“IT’S CHRISTMAS, EVE” (SOUNDTRACK) — LEANN RIMES

LeAnn

#2 MOVIE

I’m so grateful for the new music from the Queen and I’m still re-living that amazing night last December in Las Vegas!

MC ALL I WANT VEGAS

“CAUTION” — MARIAH CAREY

MC

1

“GOLDEN” — KYLIE MINOGUE

Kylie-Minogue-Golden

I’m still holding out that Kylie brings the “Golden Tour” to the United States in the fall of 2019.

Kylie 1.JPG

It’s already toured Europe and will play Australia in March 2019.

And, Kylie, please bring Jake Leigh with you!!!

Kylie 5.JPG

Holiday Bonus

Anthony

P.S.  So, take my advice and get these albums now with your Christmas gift cards. 🙂

2018Albums

Random Friday Thoughts — October 5, 2018

Happy first week of October!

Thank you for taking the time to check out my Random Friday Thoughts!

MORE REFLECTIONS ON PRESIDENT CARTER

President Jimmy Carter turned 94 earlier this week.

Here’s a note I left at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, a couple of years ago on my visit.

Msg JC & R.jpg

AP Jimmy Carter Presidential Library  Museum.jpg

AMERICA’S MOOD

It’s summed up perfectly by Dana Scully and the always incredible, beautiful, and intelligent Gillian Anderson!

Dana Scully.JPG

COMFORTING ROBERT KENNEDY 

Just moments after giving his victory speech in the California Democratic primary at the Ambassador Hotel in June 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was making his exit through the kitchen.

That’s when an assassin’s bullets mortally wounded the Democratic presidential hopeful.

18-year-old hotel busboy, Juan Romero rushed to Kennedy’s side and cradled him and kept his head off the restaurant floor.

Kennedy.JPG

Romero died earlier this week of an apparent heart attack in Modesto, California. He was 68.

Earlier this year, Romero said, “I kneeled down to him and I could see his lips moving, so I put my ear next to his lips and I heard him say, ‘Is everybody OK?’ I said, ‘Yes, everybody’s OK.’ I put my hand between the cold concrete and his head just to make him comfortable.”

“THE WALKING DEAD”

Like 45 and his old tweets that come back to bite him in the ass, I’m retracting something I said in my April 20, 2018, blog.

Under the ominous headline, GOOD RIDDANCE “THE WALKING DEAD”, I wrote, “After eight seasons, I’m giving up on AMC’s “The Walking Dead”.  The seventh and eighth season were painful and I didn’t find them enjoyable… Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), I’ll miss you, but I can’t take the show anymore!”

Well, hell’s bells!  Now that I know Lincoln is leaving the show early in the ninth season, I now have to watch it to say goodbye to my future ex-boyfriend.

Andrew Lincoln

By the way, I saw the first five minutes of the October 7th premiere episode and it looks great.

Okay, show runners, while the details of how he departs is unknown to the public, I hope his death (?) is heartbreaking!  And, as an added bonus, can Judith go along with him?

I’m normally not a shipper, but may I request Jesusaron?

“YOU”

Last week, I talked about the Lifetime stalker drama, “You”.

I’m still loving it and I was laughing out loud with these two lines from the last episode.

you-lifetime

Beck’s thoughts after the quick intimacy with Joe: “What was that? Eight seconds? Hell yeah, he’s got that Trump just took Pennsylvania look!”

Also, from Beck, “You’re a coward. Britney got through 2007 though, right?”

BASEBALL SEASON

I’m a fair weather baseball fan.

Kris Bryant.JPG

By the way, that Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs. 🙂

I don’t really follow a particular team although when I lived in Chicago, I rooted for the Cubs. And, then when the White Sox made the World Series, they were my team.

There are just too many games for me, but I start to pay attention when the 30 teams are whittled down and the Division Series, the League Championship Series, and the World Series take place.

The Division Series (quarterfinal round) got underway this week!

In the August 6-13, 2018 issue, “Time” reported that the average age of those watching Major League Baseball (MLB) rose from 52 in 2000 to 57 in 2016. (42 is the average age of National Basketball Association viewers!)

Not only are MLB viewers getting old, there are fewer young people watching the games.  A recent survey showed that nearly two-thirds of people ages 18 to 36 didn’t watch baseball!

By the way, I was huge Cleveland Indians fan when I lived in Ohio and Grady Sizemore played for the team (2004-2011).

Sizemore

And, as a kid, I had the biggest crush on Kansas City Royals third baseman, George Brett!

Brett

“MANIFEST”

The new hit, “Manifest” on NBC is creepy, sad, and awesome!

In 2013, a flight takes off from Jamaica and arrives in New York five years later.  However, to the people on board, it was a typical three-hour flight with some turbulence.

But, the world has moved on without them.

I was blown away by the premiere and the second episode was equally compelling!  I love the premise, the acting, and I’m touched with the sentimentality!

While I can’t wait to see how the story develops, I’m majorly crushing on Josh Dallas!

josh-dallas-manifest

I may have to binge watch “Once Upon a Time” when I’m snowed in this winter to catch more of him!

Totally random here, but one advantage to a “Manifest”-like situation is not having to deal with 45 in the White House!

FALL TELEVISION MVP

I’m happy to see more of my network television shows back from summer break.

“9-1-1” on Fox is still sexy, thrilling , and fun.  The earthquake episodes were fantastic.

And, here’s to the new hotties:

Ryan Guzman (Eddie Diaz, a new firefighter on “9-1-1”)

Ryan Guzman.jpg

and from the USA Network show, “The Purge”, Gabriel Chavarria (Miguel Guerrero, a US Marine who returns home on Purge Night to save his sister, Penelope).

Gabriel Chavarria.jpg

HARVEST SEASON IS HERE

Before you know it, a hard freeze and snow will be on the way.  Harvest those crops!

Harvest Season.JPG

CANDY CORN PIZZA

Would you try it? 🙂

CC pizza

“A LEGENDARY CHRISTMAS”

Finally, more information about the upcoming John Legend Christmas project.

john legend - A Legendary Christmas

The new album (and 25-date Christmas tour) is called “A Legendary Christmas” and it comes out October 26th!

Fourteen songs will appear on the album and it includes several original songs and many classics like “Please Come Home for Christmas”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, and “The Christmas Song” (featuring Esperanza Spalding).

Stevie Wonder brings his harmonica skills to the album’s first song, “What Christmas Means to Me”.

“SONS OF ANARCHY”

I just started binge-watching the seven season, 92-episode FX series, “Sons of Anarchy”, which ran from 2008-2014.

After the first two seasons, I’m very impressed.  I even Googled to see if “motorcycle club” life was as violent as the series portrays it and from what I read, it’s pretty rough to be part of that gang!

Charlie Hunnam has grown up from when I first saw him in the 1999-2000 original UK series “Queer As Folk”.  He’s still gorgeous and nicely buffed as rough Jax Teller.

Charlie Katey.JPG

And, I’m blown away by Katey Sagal, who play’s Jax’s mother, Gemma, and is the real life wife of “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter.   Many will remember her as Peg Bundy on Fox’s long-running series “Married… with Children”.

Sagal won the Golden Globe Award for “Best Actress” in a Television Series Drama for the third season.

In the second season, there’s a brutal rape and beating of a major character and it’s painful to watch.  It’s even more heartbreaking watching her try to recover without her family knowing about it!

Here’s an interesting tidbit that you may remember if you’ve watch the series.

Half_Sack.png

Other than Hunnam, I’m crushing on Johnny Lewis, who plays “Half-Sack” (no, I won’t explain his nickname!) in seasons one and two.

When I went online to find out more about the actor, I learned that he dated Katy Perry many years ago.

Johnny Lewis Katy Perry.JPG

However, I was shocked to learn that he’s dead.

Lewis and his 81-year-old landlady Catherine Davis were found dead at Davis’ home in September 2012.

Police were called after neighbors heard the woman screaming.  Authorities say Lewis broke into the house, beat Davis to death and killed her cat, Jesse.

They found his body in the driveway and believe he fell to his death from the building.

Lewis had just been released from jail just five days before the murder, but the autopsy found no alcohol or drugs in his body.

His family says he had occasional spurts of violence, which stemmed from untreated head injuries suffered from a high-speed motorcycle accident one year earlier!

“JAKE SHEARS”

It’s hard to believe that the last Scissor Sisters album came out in 2012.

I was so grateful to see them in Chicago in 2010.

This was the pre-concert and post-concert after dancing and getting caught in the rain!

AP SS Final

This is sexy Jake Shears, one of the two lead singers for the band (with Ana Matronic).

Scissor Sisters

In August, Jake released his self-titled debut album and it’s phenomenal.  Sadly, it hasn’t made a splash in America like it did in Europe!

Jake.jpg

There are many incredible songs on the album and my favorites are “Good Friends”, “S.O.B.” (which stands for sex on the brain), “Everything I’ll Ever Need”, “Creep City”, and “Sad Song Backwards”!

GRADE:  B+

“DANCING QUEEN”

If you love Cher and you love ABBA, then this album is a combination of unicorns, rainbows, and bell bottoms if you’re a dancing queen!

It’s expected to debut in the Top 5 on the Billboard 200 album chart!

And, the album’s first single, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” moves into the Top Ten on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, her 14th top 10 hit on that chart!

Cher

GRADE:  B+  

THAT’S IT

With all the craziness in the world, make it the best in your little part of it!

Anthony