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"Waterloo" is the first single from the Swedish pop group ABBA's second album, Waterloo and their first under the Epic and Atlantic labels. This was also the first single to be credited to the group performing under the name ABBA.

Waterloo (English version) by ABBA Swedish release A-side.jpg
A-side label of the Swedish vinyl release of the English-language recording
Single by ABBA
from the album Waterloo
  • "Honey, Honey" (Swedish-language release)
  • "Watch Out" (English-language release)
Released4 March 1974[1]
Format7-inch single
Recorded17 December 1973
StudioMetronome Studios, Stockholm
  • Benny Andersson
  • Björn Ulvaeus
ABBA singles chronology
"Rock'n Roll Band"
"Honey, Honey"
Audio sample
Waterloo (English version)
Music video
"Waterloo" on YouTube
Music video
"Waterloo (Eurovision Performance)" on YouTube
Eurovision Song Contest 1974 entry
Finals performance
Final result
Final points
Appearance chronology
◄ "You're Summer" (1973)   
"Jennie, Jennie" (1975) ►

On 6 April 1974 the song was the winning entry for Sweden in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. The victory began ABBA's path to worldwide fame. The Swedish version of the single was a double A-side with "Honey, Honey" (Swedish version), while the English version usually featured "Watch Out" on the B-side.

The single became a No. 1 hit in several countries. It reached the U.S. Top 10 and went on to sell nearly six million copies, making it one of the best-selling singles in history.

At the 50th anniversary celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2005, it was chosen as the best song in the competition's history.[4]


Writing, recording and meaningEdit

"Waterloo" was written specifically to be entered into the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, after the group finished third with "Ring Ring" the previous year in the Swedish pre-selection contest, Melodifestivalen 1973.

The original title of the song was "Honey Pie". "Waterloo" was originally written with simultaneous rock music and jazz beats (unusual for an ABBA song).

Recording of the song commenced on 17 December 1973, with instrumental backing from Janne Schaffer (who came up with the main guitar and bass parts), Rutger Gunnarsson and Ola Brunkert. The song's production style was influenced by Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound": prior to recording "Ring Ring", engineer Michael B. Tretow had read Richard Williams' book Out of His Head: The Sound of Phil Spector, which inspired him to layer multiple instrumental overdubs on the band's recordings, becoming an integral part of ABBA's sound. Subsequently, German and French versions were recorded in March and April 1974 respectively: the French version was adapted by Claude-Michel Schönberg, who would later go on to co-write Les Misérables.[5]

"Waterloo" is about a woman who "surrenders" to a man and promises to love him, referencing Napoleon's surrender at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

At EurovisionEdit

The band considered submitting another song to Eurovision, "Hasta Mañana", but decided on "Waterloo" since it gave equal weight to both lead vocalists Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, while "Hasta Mañana" was sung only by Fältskog.

ABBA performed the song at Melodifestivalen 1974 in February, singing it in Swedish. The song won, and therefore advanced to Eurovision.

The song differed from the standard "dramatic ballad" tradition of the Eurovision Song Contest by its flavour and rhythm, as well as by its performance. ABBA gave the audience something that had more rarely been seen before in Eurovision: flashy costumes (including silver platform boots), plus a catchy uptempo song and even simple choreography. The group also broke from convention by being the first winning entry in a language other than that of their home country; prior to 1973 all Eurovision singers had been required to sing in their country's native tongue, a restriction that was lifted briefly for the contests between 1973 and 1976 contests (thus allowing "Waterloo" to be sung in English), then reinstated before ultimately being removed again in 1999. Compared to later ABBA releases, the singers' Swedish accents are decidedly more pronounced in "Waterloo".

The song scored 24 points to win the Eurovision Song Contest 1974 final on 6 April, beating runner-up Gigliola Cinquetti of Italy's entry "" by six points.


The song shot to No. 1 in the UK and stayed there for two weeks, becoming the first of the band's nine UK No. 1's, and the 16th biggest selling single of the year in the UK.[6] It also topped the charts in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, West Germany, Ireland, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland, while reaching the Top 3 in Austria, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and ABBA's native Sweden. (The song was immensely popular in Sweden, but did not reach No. 1 there due to Sweden having a combined Album and Singles Chart at the time: at the peak of the song's popularity, its Swedish and English versions reached No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, while the No. 1 spot was held by the album Waterloo.) The song also spent 11 weeks on Svensktoppen (24 March – 2 June 1974), including 7 weeks at No. 1.[7]

Unlike other Eurovision-winning tunes, the song's appeal transcended Europe: "Waterloo" also reached the Top 10 in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Rhodesia and the United States (peaking at No. 6, their third highest-charting U.S. hit after No. 1 "Dancing Queen" and No. 3 "Take a Chance on Me"). The Waterloo album performed similarly well in Europe, although in the US it failed to match the success of the single.

ABBA had originally cited the song "See My Baby Jive", by English glam rock band Wizzard, as a major influence; in the wake of their Eurovision victory, they were quoted as saying that it would not surprise them if artists such as Wizzard would consider entering the Eurovision in the future.


"Waterloo" was re-released in 2004 (with the same B-side), to celebrate the 30th anniversary of ABBA's Eurovision win, reaching No. 20 on the UK charts.

On 22 October 2005, at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Eurovision Song Contest, "Waterloo" was chosen as the best song in the competition's history.[4]

Dr. Harry Witchel, physiologist and music expert at the University of Bristol, named "Waterloo" the quintessential Eurovision song.[8]

Track listingEdit

Swedish versionEdit

a. "Waterloo" (Swedish version) – 2:45
b. "Honey Honey" (Swedish version) – 2:55

English versionEdit

a. "Waterloo" (English version) – 2:46
b. "Watch Out" – 3:46

Official versionsEdit

  • "Waterloo" (English version)
  • "Waterloo" (English alternate version)
  • "Waterloo" (French version) - recorded 18 April 1974 in Paris, France
  • "Waterloo" (French/Swedish version) - overdubs of French and Swedish versions
  • "Waterloo" (German version)
  • "Waterloo" (Swedish version)

Release historyEdit

Region Date Title Label Format Catalog
Sweden 4 March 1974 "Waterloo" (Swedish) / "Honey, Honey" (Swedish) Polar Single POS 1186
Sweden 4 March 1974 "Waterloo" (English) / "Watch Out" Polar Single POS 1187
UK 1974 "Waterloo" / "Watch Out" Epic Single EPC 2240
US 1974 "Waterloo" / "Watch Out" Atlantic Single 45-3035
West Germany 1974 "Waterloo" (German) / "Watch Out" Polydor Single 2040 116
France 1974 "Waterloo" (French) / "Gonna Sing You My Lovesong" Vogue Single 45. X. 3104

Charts and certificationsEdit

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again versionEdit

"Waterloo" was released on 1 June 2018 as the second single from the Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again soundtrack, by Capitol and Polydor Records. The song is performed by Hugh Skinner (Young Harry) and Lily James (Young Donna) and was produced by Benny Andersson.


Chart (2018) Peak
Hungary (Single Top 40)[33] 40
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[34] 70

Other cover versionsEdit

  • In 1974, both Seija Simola and Ami Aspelund each recorded a Finnish-language cover version of "Waterloo" whose lyrics were written by Simola; that summer Simola's recording of "Waterloo" reached the Top 10 in Finland during the same period the ABBA original was at No. 1.
  • In 1974 Sarolta Zalatnay recorded the Hungarian verson of this song as Waterloo
  • In 1974, Danish duo Lecia & Lucienne covered the song with Danish lyrics written by Gustav Winckler. These lyrics were largely a direct translation of the original Swedish lyrics written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Stig Anderson.
  • In 1978, a Swedish country band called Nashville Train (which included some of ABBA's own backing band members) covered the song on their album ABBA Our Way.
  • 1970s Hong Kong pop band The Wynners recorded a cover of the song. It was last included on their 2007 compilation Stars on 33.
  • In 1986, a cover version of the song was recorded and released by Doctor and the Medics,[35] with special guest Roy Wood on saxophone and backing vocals, reached No. 45 on the UK chart. Wood had written, produced and sung "See My Baby Jive" with Wizzard, a song which ABBA had cited as an influence on "Waterloo".[citation needed]
  • In 1995, Swedish metal band Nation recorded a version for their album Without Remorse. It would later be released on the compilation ABBAMetal (also released as A Tribute to ABBA).
  • In 1995, New Zealand alternative rock band Cloth recorded a version for the compilation Abbasalutely.
  • Spanish rock band Los Enemigos recorded an English cover of the song for their 1995 album Por la Sombra Hermana Amnesia.
  • In 1998, the original line-up of UK girl group Bananarama reunited to record "Waterloo" for the Eurovision parody A Song For Eurotrash on Channel 4. Their music video featured the girls waking up from a hang-over, dancing around in wedding dresses at an altar (with male back-up dancers in military uniform), and getting into a food fight at a wedding reception. The song was included on the 1999 compilation, ABBA - A Tribute: The 25th Anniversary Celebration.
  • In 1998, Swedish heavy metal band Black Ingvars covered "Waterloo" in Swedish on their 1998 album Schlager Metal.
  • In 1999, ABBA tribute pop group Arrival released a version on their album First Flight.
  • Dance versions of the song have been recorded by Abbacadabra (released through Almighty Records), Tiny T on the Lay All Your Love On ABBA tribute album, German Eurodance group E-Rotic on their 1997 Thank You For The Music album and the 1998 compilation Dancemania Covers 2, Baby Dolls (in 1991), and the Golden Queens.
  • Singer/songwriter Pamela McNeill covered the song on her album Tribute To ABBA.
  • In 2004, the song was performed by Michelle Hardwick, Vickie Gates, and Will Mellor for the tribute album ABBAMania 2.
  • German pop group Banaroo covered the song for the German ABBA Mania compilation, which coincided with a TV special.
  • In 2005, The Dan Band recorded a cover of Waterloo as part of an ABBA medley for his album The Dan Band Live.
  • In 2006, a cover of the song by Finnish a cappella choral ensemble Rajaton was released on their ABBA tribute album Rajaton Sings ABBA With Lahti Symphony Orchestra.
  • California indie band Popdudes, featuring Kenny Howes, included a cover of the song on their album Maximum Rock Stupidity. It is also featured on the 2006 power pop compilation International Pop Overthrow - Volume 9.[36]
  • Tribute band Gabba recorded a cover of the song, in the style of The Ramones.[37]
  • Danish duo Olsen Brothers (winners of the Eurovision contest in 2000) covered the song on their 2010 album Wings of Eurovision.
  • Lenna Kuurmaa and Tanel Padar recorded a cover of the song in Estonian.
  • Philipp Kirkorov recorded a cover of the song in Russian for album Ya.
  • In 2018, Cher covered the song on her ABBA covers album Dancing Queen

Live cover performancesEdit

Appearances in other mediaEdit

  • ABBA perform parts of the song live in the 1977 film ABBA: The Movie.
  • The Australian film Muriel's Wedding (1994), features "Waterloo" in a pivotal scene in which lead Toni Collette bonds with the character played by Rachel Griffiths. The film's soundtrack, featuring five ABBA tracks, is widely regarded as having helped to fuel the revival of popular interest in ABBA's music in the mid-1990s.[38]
  • "Waterloo" features prominently in the 2015 science-fiction film The Martian.[39] The song plays as the film's lead, played by Matt Damon, works to ready his launch vehicle for a last-chance escape from Mars.[40]
  • "Here I Go Again", the 11th episode of the third season of Legends of Tomorrow (19 February 2018), begins in medias res, with the titular time-traveling team having apparently just restored a time-transplanted Napoleon from the 1970s, where he had come into possession of a copy of the record.[41] The song is also stuck in the head of one member of the team, until he erases his own memory to get it out.


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  3. ^ Raykoff, Ivan; Deam Tobin, Robert (eds.). "Camping on the borders of Europe". A Song for Europe: Popular Music and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest. Routledge. p. 1.
  4. ^ a b "Abba win 'Eurovision 50th' vote". BBC News. 23 October 2005. Retrieved 20 July 2006.
  5. ^ Vincentelli, Elisabeth (31 March 2018). "The Year Abba channeled Phil Spector and conquered the world". Salon. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  6. ^ Scott, Robert (2002) 'ABBA: Thank You for the Music - The Stories Behind Every Song', Carlton Books Limited: Great Britain, p.42
  7. ^ "Svensktoppen - ''1974''". Retrieved 27 September 2013.
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  9. ^ " – ABBA – Waterloo" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  10. ^ " – ABBA – Waterloo" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
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  12. ^ "Waterloo on Danish Top 20 - 1974". Retrieved 27 September 2013.
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  14. ^ " – ABBA – Waterloo". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  15. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. 2008. To use, type "Waterloo" in the "Search by Song Title" search bar and click search. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  16. ^ " – ABBA – Waterloo" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  17. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  18. ^ " – ABBA – Waterloo". VG-lista. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  19. ^ Brian Currin (25 May 2003). "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Number 1s". Retrieved 27 September 2013.
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  21. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  22. ^ "ABBA Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Steffen Hung. "Forum - 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 10 October 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  25. ^ "RPM Volume 22, No. 19". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. 28 December 1974. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
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  29. ^ "Top 100 1974".
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  31. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1956". Cash Box Magazine. 1957. Archived from the original on 27 September 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  32. ^ "British single certifications – ABBA – Waterloo". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 14 December 2018. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Waterloo in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  33. ^ "Archívum – Slágerlisták – MAHASZ" (in Hungarian). Single (track) Top 40 lista. Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  34. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
  35. ^ Oldham, A, Calder, T & Irvin, C: "ABBA: The Name of the Game", page 209. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1995
  36. ^ "International Pop Overthrow 2004, Vol. 9 - Various Artists | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  37. ^ "GABBA The Discopunk Sensation - MEDIA". Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2012. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  38. ^ Snetiker, Marc (13 October 2015). "How ABBA (and that 'Waterloo' scene) made it into 'Muriel's Wedding'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  39. ^ Newman, Melinda (2 October 2015). "The Martian Soundtrack Filled With Disco Classics". Archived from the original on 11 October 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  40. ^ Pahle, Rebecca (6 October 2015). "The Very Best Moments in 'The Martian' (Including the One Ridley Scott Wanted to Cut)". Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  41. ^ Sava, Oliver. "Legends Of Tomorrow channels "Hedgehog Day" for an excellent time loop story". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 26 February 2018.

External linksEdit