Quacoan wrote: Geezee wrote:
toomanyhatz wrote:I love Petula Clark - more than Abba, surely. But I don't really see a basis for comparison. Petula Clark had Tony Hatch. Abba had themselves, singing in a second language. They obviously had great arrangement skills, but I don't think you can hold them to similar standards.
The thing I find impressive about them is they expressed simple sentiments simply and honestly. It's not even a matter of 'forgiving' their limited skills with language- there's pathos for me in the way they express it.
Does the fact that they are singing in a second language matter? Surely that was their choice, to increase commerciality at the expense of natural expression? It frustrates me that so many Swedish bands sing in English - invariably they sing, or write lyrics, significantly better in their native tongue.
But would we be talking about Abba today if they sang in Swedish? Almost certainly not - in which case one wonders whether their talent is universal.
I assume their thought was exactly as you say, that they wanted to get out of the Swedish system and start playing for the world. But I have a feeling that they're not especially poetic or verbal people, and working in their second language maybe even made their songs better (for the reasons hatz mentions above). They do have some songs they do in Swedish; I'd be interested in whether you, as a speaker of both, think they are any better.
The only song that i'm aware of that they wrote in Swedish first (I could be very wrong on this) is Ring Ring which is perhaps an unremarkable lyric - but actually reading through it on paper there is certainly more darkness there than your typical schlager/pop song from Sweden at the time. And it's a million times better than the English lyric (Swedish version starts "Silent and dead, the phone / Mocking me" versus "I was sitting by the phone / Sitting all alone"). Reading the Swedish lyric, it strikes me that it's a slightly darker cousin of Please Please Mr Postman.
With some of the others it's hard to say - in some ways the Swedish version of SOS sounds a bit awkward, but I think it is actually a direct translation of the English one (rather than them having written it in Swedish first) which would explain it.
Take a Chance on Me is another example of that - you could very easily say the exact same expression in Swedish ("Ta En Chans På Mig") which would work perfectly in the chorus, but instead I guess they try to have a bit of fun with the Swedish translation and they make it sound as much as English as possible - they sing "Tänk, De Känns Som Vi" (Interesting, It Feels Like Us) which if you sing very quickly (which they do) sounds basically like they are saying take a chance on me.