40 years ago, people took a chance on ABBA

BY Joshua Barajas  April 7, 2014 at 6:15 PM EDT

Video by YouTube user mozpiano2

Forty years ago Monday, members of the Swedish pop group ABBA stepped on stage during the Eurovision Song Contest to take a risk that eventually led to their international superstardom.

Donning silver platforms and bellbottom flares, ABBA performed their breakthrough hit “Waterloo” in 1974, in an attempt to gain exposure beyond Scandinavia. But even though “Waterloo” topped the charts following the group’s appearance on Eurovision, the group struggled to become anything other than a one-hit wonder.

“The problem, I think, is that the Eurovision Song Contest has always been very ridiculed as a media event, which is regarded as quite cheesy and ridiculous,” Swedish musicologist Alfred Bjornberg explained to NPR.

Despite the perceived handicap because of their connection to the cheesy event, ABBA was able to score another hit, more than a year later, with “SOS.”

Since then, ABBA — which is an acronym of the first letters of the band members’ first names, Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid — has had several worldwide hits to their name, a “Mamma Mia” musical that adapts some of those hits, and a dedicated museum in Stockholm.