Darren Milby column

Abba won the Eurovision song contest in 1974.
Abba won the Eurovision song contest in 1974.

The Eurovision song contest is regarded by most of us as a bit of a laugh.

It’s a bit kitch, a bit camp and often shows the more ridiculous elements of our European neighbours.

But forty years ago I don’t think the contest was seen as such a big joke.

I can’t say for certain because I wasn’t born but that 1974 Eurovision held in Brighton changed things forever. Certainly in terms of a wedding night do, have you ever been to one in the last forty years where they haven’t played ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba?

Abba won the 1974 contest with infectious pop classic ‘Waterloo’ and went on to unprecedented global domination. What shocks me is that Abba spilt up in 1982 yet their music is still everywhere.

Not a day goes by without a song of theirs being requested on The Bay. And you still hear their records everywhere.

The musical Mama Mia is one the highest grossing musical films of all time.

Let’s be honest the success of that movie is nothing to do with Pearce Brosnan’s singing or the pretty much non-existent storyline. It’s all about the music.

I don’t think pop music gets any better than Abba.

In the early days it was about the cheesy, catchy pop song. But in later years there is a lot more depth. The boys were writing songs putting forward their sides in the divorces and the girls were singing them.

That must have been a very strange feeling in the band – no wonder they found they couldn’t work together anymore.

The best example is the lyrics of ‘The Winner Takes It All’, that song is heart-breaking.

Amazingly forty years after that Eurovision Song Contest Abba are as big as they ever were. If they were to announce a tour tomorrow they would sell out stadiums around the world in seconds.

But what I love most about Abba is their resolve not to reform.

Their catalogue of hits and global success is perfect and cannot be improved upon. There is this rumour that says they turned down a billion dollars to reform.

That’s an awful lot of money but fair play to them for doing it.

It’s not like they need the cash. The world knew Abba as four young people in flares with bags of talent and amazing songs. Seeing those same four on stage now with their greying hair and wrinkles wouldn’t quite be the same.