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The Winner Takes It All

"The Winner Takes It All" is a song recorded by the Swedish pop group ABBA. Released as the first single from the group's Super Trouper album on 21 July 1980, it is a ballad in the key of F-sharp major, reflecting the end of a romance. The single's B-side was the non-album track "Elaine". It was the group's first single after a seven-month hiatus and peaked at No.1 in several countries, including the UK, where it became their eighth chart-topper. It was also the group's final top 10 hit in the United States.

"The Winner Takes It All"
ABBA - The Winner Takes It All-Elaine.png
Single by ABBA
from the album Super Trouper
Released21 July 1980
Format7-inch single
Songwriter(s)Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus
Producer(s)Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus
Super Trouper track listing
10 tracks
Side one
  1. "Super Trouper"
  2. "The Winner Takes It All"
  3. "On and On and On"
  4. "Andante, Andante"
  5. "Me and I"
Side two
  1. "Happy New Year"
  2. "Our Last Summer"
  3. "The Piper"
  4. "Lay All Your Love on Me"
  5. "The Way Old Friends Do"
Music video
"The Winner Takes It All" on YouTube


"The Winner Takes It All" - which had the original demonstration title "The Story of My Life" - was written by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, with Agnetha Fältskog singing the lead vocal.

Ulvaeus denies the song is about his and Fältskog's divorce, saying the basis of the song "is the experience of a divorce, but it's fiction. 'Cause one thing I can say is that there wasn't a winner or a loser in our case. A lot of people think it's straight out of reality, but it's not".[1] American critic Chuck Klosterman, who says "The Winner Takes It All" is "[the only] pop song that examines the self-aware guilt one feels when talking to a person who has humanely obliterated your heart" finds Ulvaeus' denial hard to believe in light of the original title.[2] And the booklet for the double CD compilation The Definitive Collection states "'The Winner Takes It All' is the song where Bjorn admits that the sad experience of his and Agnetha's divorce the previous year left its mark on the lyrics."

Fältskog has also repeatedly stated that though "The Winner Takes It All" is her favourite ABBA song and that it has an excellent set of lyrics, the story is not that of her and Ulvaeus: there were no winners in their divorce, especially as children were involved.[citation needed]

In a 1999 poll for Channel 5, "The Winner Takes It All" was voted Britain's favourite ABBA song. This feat was replicated in a 2010 poll for ITV. In a 2006 poll for a Channel Five programme, "The Winner Takes It All" was voted "Britain's Favourite Break-Up Song."

The Societetshuset in Marstrand town, where the music video was filmed in the summer of 1980. Photography from 2013.

Music videoEdit

A music video to promote the song was filmed in July 1980 on Marstrand, an island on the Swedish west coast. It was directed by Lasse Hallström.


"The Winner Takes It All" was a major success for ABBA, hitting #1 in Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa and the United Kingdom. It reached the Top 5 in Austria, Finland, France, West Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Zimbabwe, while peaking in the Top 10 in Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain and the United States (where it became ABBA's fourth and final American Top 10 hit, peaking at #8; the song spent 26 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, more than any other ABBA single).[3] It was also the group's second Billboard Adult Contemporary #1 (after "Fernando").[4] "The Winner Takes It All" was also a hit in Brazil: it was included on the soundtrack of "Coração Alado" ("Winged Heart"), a popular soap opera in 1980, as the main theme.

The track was listed as the 23rd most popular single on the US Billboard year-end chart for 1981.[5]

Track listingEdit

1."The Winner Takes It All"4:55


Chart performanceEdit

Weekly singles chartsEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ McLean, Craig (13 July 2008). "Knowing Mia knowing you". The Guardian. London.
  2. ^ Klosterman, Chuck (2009). Eating the Dinosaur. New York: Scribner. pp. 170–71. ISBN 978-1-4165-4421-0.
  3. ^ "United States of America". Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 15.
  5. ^ {}[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 34, 1980" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved 2017-12-31.
  7. ^ " – ABBA – The Winner Takes It All" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 2017-12-31.
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 383–4. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  9. ^ Downey, Pat; Albert, George; Hoffmann, Frank W (1994). Cash Box pop singles charts, 1950–1993. Libraries Unlimited. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-56308-316-7.
  10. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992" Archived 5 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1980". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1981/Top 100 Songs of 1981". Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "British single certifications – ABBA – The Winner Takes It All". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 13 April 2018. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type The Winner Takes It All in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  15. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (9 October 2018). "'Better Call Saul' Season Finale Recap: Winner Takes It All". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
  16. ^ "Cher on new Abba covers album: The songs are hard to sing". Irish Examiner. 9 August 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  17. ^ "The Winner Takes It All". Amazon. Epic. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Love Scenes". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Susan Boyle covers ABBA - listen". Digital Spy. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2018.

External linksEdit