Meaning of “The Visitors” by ABBA

“The Visitors” by ABBA is based on a narrative of the sense of dread the singer feels due to being visited by an unidentified group of people. Among hearing the doorbell ring, she is gripped with fear, and amongst her concerns are relatively-unorthodox items such as her “books, paintings and furniture”. However, at this point, she still doesn’t know who it actually is. But she has concluded that it isn’t any of her friends since the visitors are trying to enter the house in a “stupidly impatient” manner, on top of the fact that her buddies apparently stopped coming to see her some time ago. However, in days past, they did come by in order to attend “secret meetings”.

Ultimately she concludes that “the visitors” have a sinister motive. She feels they have come to “take” and “break” her. However, they have not caught her by surprise, as their visitation was expected. But that does not minimize the overall terror that she feels, to the point of “trembling” and being on the verge of “fainting”.

Although the titular “visitors” are not forthrightly identified within the lyrics of the song, who they actually referred to were agents of the Soviet Union. And ABBA’s Anni-Frid Lyngstad is playing the role of a Soviet dissident who once again is gripped with panic upon hearing them knocking at her door. In other words, this track is meant to officially serve as a statement of protest against how officials of the Soviet Union treated such people and in a broader sense a criticism of all such oppressive regimes.

Lyrics of "The Visitors"

Listeners may notice that such content is not the usual ABBA fanfare. However, this track was released shortly before the group disbanded, and during that time, they became more political than they had been in days past.

Facts about “The Visitors”

  • “The Visitors (Crackin’ Up)” is the alternative title of this song.
  • Benny Andersson of ABBA and his bandmate Björn Ulvaeus are the sole writers and producers of this track.
  • This track’s recording was done somewhere in October 1981 and it was released in April, the following year. It was one of the 5 singles to be released from the group’s eighth studio album (also titled The Visitors). FYI, that album was the last album ABBA released before disbanding.
  • ABBA member, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, sings the lead vocals on this song.
  • “The Visitors” was a great success in Costa Rica, peaking at number 1 in that country. However, on the US Billboard Hot 100, it only managed to reach number 63.

1 Response

  1. Alison Venugoban says:

    I’m feeling sheepish at the moment – I have always thought, since hearing the song in the early 1980’s, that it was a reference to a woman waiting apprehensively for her latest menses! Because it’s appearance would mean all the awful pre-menstrual symptoms would abate, and also to prove that she wasn’t pregnant, she wanted them to appear (“I have been waiting for these visitors…”) and yet she dreaded their monthly appearance just because it’s so painful and tiring.
    Oh. So, some sort of repressive regime? I still think monthly menses were worse! Thank heavens for Menopause!

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