“Dancing Queen” by ABBA
As the title suggests, “Dancing Queen” is actually an ode to dancing. It came to the world via the relatively-puritan days of 1970s’ European music, indeed being considered the first Europop disco tune to actually blow up. And as such it has been concluded that there isn’t any hidden messages or sensual innuendos per se in the lyrics. Rather the narrative featured therein is based on the exhilaration one feels upon hitting the club (or disco) and simply enjoying the act of dancing.
The subject of the song, who is presented as the addressee, is a particular lady, i.e. the “Dancing Queen”. As the narrative begins we are made aware that this story is occurring on a “Friday night”, which can be generally interpreted as any average weekend. And basically homegirl, in her late-night boredom, is looking for a musically-based venue to hangout. Simply put, she has basically decided to go dancing. And in doing so she knows the potential exists to meet a special guy.
The Dancing Queen is a real Teaser
Moreover she is presented as “a teaser”, i.e. one of those types of ladies who can demand attention from men on the dance floor. However, she did not come out with the goal of actually hooking up with someone, despite acknowledging that something romantic can potentially occur. Rather she is the type to boogie with a guy and then leave him on the dance floor hanging. And this is not to imply that she is a ‘bad’ girl. Rather, as mentioned earlier, she is out to dance and for the most part nothing more.
So conclusively, we can say that this track is centered on a certain character who has two main characteristics. One is that she has an affinity for dancing. And secondly, when she does go out to do so, she’s a “queen” on the dance floor.
ABBA girls talk about “Dancing Queen”
ABBA’s Frida Lyngstad has declared this track as “the best song ABBA had ever done”. And according to the history of the song, she actually cried upon first hearing it.
And her bandmate, Agnetha Fältskog, went on to say that conventionally it is hard to know which tracks will blow up and which will not. But in the case of “Dancing Queen”, she knew from the onset that the band had a hit.
Writing and Production Credits for “Dancing Queen”
Stig Anderson wrote this song alongside ABBA’s own Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.
Benny and Björn are also the producers of “Dancing Queen”.
Under its original (i.e. demo) conception, “Dancing Queen” was rather entitled “Boogaloo”.
The song was officially released on the 15th of August 1976 as the lead single from ABBA’s fourth album, which was titled “Arrival”. It had actually premiered earlier that year via Japanese and German television.
The three labels that put it out were Epic Records, Atlantic Records and Stig Anderson’s (i.e. ABBA’s manager) own Polar Music.
ABBA, as you are probably aware, was one of the most-successful musical bands in the history of the industry. And “Dancing Queen” is considered by many to be their signature song. For instance, when Queen Silvia of Sweden turned 50 years old in 1993, she requested that Frida Lyngstad personally perform this tune for her. This was due to her being so impressed with the time when the entire band performed it, some two decades earlier in 1976, on television for her and King Carl XVI Gustaf when the couple were being wed.
And by the way, it is also rumored to be a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II.
Moreover the nations, including South Africa, Japan and even Russia and Rhodesia, in which “Dancing Queen” went to number 1 are too numerous to list here, as they are almost 20 in number. But most notably it was able to achieve this feat on the Eurochart Hot 100, UK Singles Chart and Billboard Hot 100. And in terms of the latter, it marks the only time ABBA had been able to actually top the Billboard Hot 100.
Additionally it has been certified platinum in the United Kingdom and worldwide, as of the year 2020, has sold in excess of 3,000,000 copies.
Artists that have covered “Dancing Queen” throughout the years include A-Teens, a band formed in tribute to ABBA, in 2000 to international success. The following year the cast of “Glee” also covered the song, which like the A-Teen’s version appeared on the Billboard Hot 100.
Then in 2018 the cast of the musical “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” also dropped their own version, which made it onto the Scottish Singles Chart. And going back to 1977, an American singer named Carol Douglas also recorded the song to moderate success.
U2 is also known to have covered “Dancing Queen”, once with the assistance of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus themselves, during their tour in 1992.