Friday, 23 January 2009

1980 Abba: Super Trouper

Probably the only song set in Glasgow and about a concert spotlight that ever has or ever will be written, 'Super Trouper' was a continuation of the cold war of disatisfaction within Abba's ranks. Instead of the internal relationship conflicts of 'The Winner Takes It All', 'Super Trouper' details the group's dislike of the treadmill of touring and playing live, prefering by this stage to confine their activities to the studio; "I was sick and tired of everything when I called you last night from Glasgow. All I do is eat and sleep and sing, wishing every show was the last show": Biting the hand that feeds rarely makes for a good song, but rather than a bitter dirge of whiny self pity, Abba dress the song up all shiny with a chorus the lights the gloom very much in the manner of the titular spotlight. Anna Frid may sound like she's singing the lines "Shining like the sun. Smiling, having fun" through very gritted teeth, and I suppose she really is, but it doesn't detract from the Europop bounce and we can all smile at the nonsense of the 'sup-p-per troup-p-per' counterpoint refrain from the men, even if nobody else in the band is.

And therein lies the problem - just what are you meant to feel once the song is over? 'Super Trouper' is a mix of grown up angst and feel good flair that flits uneasily from both between verse and chorus, verse and chorus, making it a schizophrenic listen that's hard to sing along to and even harder to empathise with. In hindsight, the duality marked the watershed in the band's fortunes; it was their last UK number one and was the moment where Abba left the party for good and went to sit on the stairs on their own.

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