Couldn’t Escape If I Wanted To21 March 2016
After yet another car trip with my best friend yelling to ABBA songs with the windows rolled down, I came to a realisation. The discography of these Swedish megastars provides the perfect soundtrack to every stage of your love life. And who better to take you on this journey than someone who dressed up as Frida for the Arts Ball last year, right? (Frida’s the one with red hair in case you were wondering.)
Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
Home alone on a Friday night and you’re wistfully lamenting your single status. The crescendo comes as you cry “gimme, gimme, gimme a man after midnight!” into the cold and lonely night. However, when ABBA wrote this song in 1979, Tinder didn’t exist. Lucky you.
You’re taking charge now! You may not be 17, unless you’re being let in underage to a club on Russell St, but tonight you’re out to look for a king all the same. Perhaps ABBA’s greatest and most empowering banger, you’re “having the time of your life”.
Take a Chance on Me
Now we move onto the next stage – you’ve found someone that has taken your fancy. Great! The only issue is that they seem to need a bit of a push or, worse, they’re into someone else. You’re more than happy to be patient though, as long as you’re next in line. Or you could sing this a cappella to the one you love, like Andy did in The Office, to speed things up a little. Whatever.
After all the patient waiting, there comes a moment where it’s now or never. This is that moment. “Nothing promised, no regrets.” It might not mean anything in the morning, but ‘Voulez-Vous’, the ode to one-night stands, says that’s okay.
Congratulations, you have lost the game. You feel like you win when you lose and that’s when you know you’re in too deep. You can see where this is going because “the history book on the shelf is always repeating itself” but you’re too in love to want to escape.
Lay All Your Love on Me
After happily conceding defeat at Waterloo, you’re wondering how you got here. You’re not usually the jealous type and yet you’re obsessing darkly over your beloved. The hymn-like chorus confirms it – you’re at the worshipping stage. (See ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ and ‘Under Attack’ for further explanation.)
The Name of the Game
This is where things begin to get confusing. Is this just fun? Is there something more? “Does it mean anything to you?” They’re making you feel things and yet you’re not sure if they feel the same. It’s a time of angst and over-thinking.
You’re sitting by the phone on a dark and dreary night like you were when you were listening to ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ What’s changed? Let’s just say that if you have to sing a song asking them to give up a bit of their time to call you, it’s not looking promising.
The Winner Takes It All
This is it. This is the song you put on when you come home at 1am and see photos of them tagged with someone else on Facebook. If you take one lesson from this article, it should be that this is the best song to put on at this distressing moment. “And now I understand you’ve come to shake my hand” will hit hard. It will remind you of every past injustice of your life and it will provide you with a satisfyingly dramatic teen movie moment.
Knowing Me, Knowing You
You can have a slightly more amicable and noble break-up with this tune. “Breaking up is never easy I know, but I have to go.” Personally, I prefer the much more satisfying and interesting hitting-emotional-rock-bottom that ‘The Winner Takes It All’ presents but each to their own, I guess.
I couldn’t end on such a sad note, so I’ve slipped this lesser known song in as a little self-affirming treat. “So long, see you honey… You know it’s not worth trying.” You’re rejuvenated and ready to start the cycle again. I believe in you.
So I say thank you for the music ABBA, for guiding me along this whirlwind journey. On that note, I should probably also thank Fleetwood Mac, but that’s a story for another day.