It could be the reply to the musical SOS we’ve all been waiting for. After years in the Eurovision Song Contest doldrums, including the embarrassment of coming last with the dreaded “nul points” at this year’s competition, help could be on the way for the United Kingdom in the form of Eurovision’s most famous winners of all: Abba.
Band-members Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson suggested in a BBC interview this morning that they’d be open to writing the UK’s Eurovision entry. “What’s the risk? You can’t be worse than last,” said Andersson. The Swedish band famously won in 1974 with Waterloo, which earlier this year was voted the best Eurovision song entry of all time.
Could Abba really be the people to help end the UK’s 24-year drought at Eurovision? If the offer’s serious, we’d be foolish not to take a chance on them. Since the UK last won Eurovision in 1997 with Katrina and the Waves’ Love Shine a Light, we have come last five times, most recently – as mentioned – back in March with James Newman’s Embers.
The UK’s combined points tally from the last 10 competitions is still more than 100 points lower than the 524 received by the winners of this year’s contest, the Italian glam-metal group Måneskin. So dire has our run been that an overhaul was recently announced: next year, Tap management, the team behind Dua Lipa and Lana Del Rey, will choose the UK’s entrant into the competition. (Ulvaeus and Andersson even suggested Dua Lipa as a possible performer, although her Kosovan heritage makes this unlikely.)
On paper, Abba could be the answer to our woes. Not only are they responsible for some of the greatest pop songs of all time (new album Voyage, released today, will no doubt shift millions of copies despite mixed reviews), but their music largely fits into the Eurovision formula. And, yes, there is a formula. Since 1999, the Nordic countries of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland have won Eurovision seven times.