419. ‘Take a Chance on Me’, by ABBA

In which the knock-offs are knocked off by the real thing! Not for the first time, ABBA shunt their own tribute act out of top spot…

Take a Chance on Me, by ABBA (their 7th of nine #1s)

3 weeks, from 12th February – 5th March 1978

And they are back to some pure pop, after a couple of more experimental offerings (‘experimental’ in an ABBA sense: ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’s guitars and ‘The Name of the Game’s funky bass-line) There’s also a hint of the disco-ball about this one, foreshadowing the ‘Voulez Vous’ era that was just around the corner.

If you change your mind, I’m the first in line… The a cappella opening here is one of the band’s most iconic moments… If you’re all alone, When the pretty birds have flown… while Benny and Bjorn accompany with their takeachancetakeachickachanchance backing line.

In comes the beat, and I’ve always loved the parping synths that keep this one rattling along like a locomotive. Agnetha and Frida are leaving their self-respect at the door here, practically begging to be taken back by a man. No fear of sloppy seconds for them! If you put me to the test, If you let me try…

They change tack in the verses, though. Suddenly they’re confident, their voices sultry: You don’t wanna hurt me, Baby don’t worry, I ain’t gonna let ya… I love the breathy asides – Come on, gimme a break honey – and wonder if they hadn’t been taking notes from Baccara (*edit* this was recorded long before ‘Yes Sir…’ became a hit, but let’s not let that spoil a narrative…)

Some more iconic moments from this classic: Agnetha belting out the bridge, the bababababas that see us home, and the split-screen video, which suddenly looks very apt in the COVID-era (that’s one Zoom call I wouldn’t mind being stuck on…) All of which adds up to the band’s 7th and final #1 of the 1970s, taking them just beyond Slade’s six chart-toppers and making them the most successful group of the decade.

Yep, ABBA are about to go on a hiatus from the top of the charts, after having scored six in just over two years. As I mentioned above, in the years following ‘Take a Chance on Me’ ABBA would go full-on disco, and release some of my favourite singles… ‘Voulez Vous’, ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’, ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’… They will be back in this countdown though, fear not, having saved the best for last. Until then, then…

6 thoughts on “419. ‘Take a Chance on Me’, by ABBA

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    Now this is my favorite ABBA song…I just love it. I also like S.O.S a lot also but this one does it. I had the single way back when.

      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        Something about the beginning gets me everytime. Also one glimpse at Agnetha and I’m happy!

  2. loved this at the time, so joyous with those chugging train rhythms and the video. These days it’s dropped down the list of my “fave Abba singles” but everything is still relative. Abba could have had another chart-topper in 1978 – assuming they could have overhauled the forthcoming Grease monsters – if they’d gone for a 3rd track off The Album, as they did in a lot of territories, or rather a double A side of Eagle, their most majestic track with those soaring guitars and the promo from Abba: The Movie, and Thank You For The Music, only one of their most famous singalongs! The UK Epic label choices were often a bit dodgy, and Bjorn & Benny a bit incredulous about them, often not getting their own way. Eagle remains the best track on the album, and by the time Thank You was released to push 1983’s Abba Hits compilation the best it could muster was top 40 – being 5 years old and the opportunity lost (not to mention people buying the Hits album instead, which was the point after all).

  3. Pingback: Recap: #391 – #420 – The UK Number Ones Blog

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