Susie Rushton: A Swedish lesson in Abba-negation

Urban Notebook: It seems we cannot get enough of the sunny optimism of "Dancing Queen" and, erm, "Does Your Mother Know?".

Share
Related Topics

Ingmar Bergman, Björn Borg (naturally), then Anita Ekberg and her fabulous chest ... giant photographs of these celebrated Swedes, and many more, are plastered patriotically on the walls of the pristine arrivals hall at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm.

Last Thursday evening, I admired them all, showing my passport to the immigration official next to a picture of Roxette, and thought I must have missed the Abba group shot of Benny, Björn, Anni-Frid and Agnetha. But the Swedes, it turns out, are not nearly as keen on their improbably melodious countrymen, pictured below, as we Brits.

This year, Mamma Mia! The Movie became the highest grossing film at the British box office (£67m, beating even Harry Potter) and the DVD shifted 1.7 million copies on its first day of sale last week. The greatest hits collection Abba Gold went to No 1 in the UK this summer – for the fifth time. It seems we cannot get enough of the sunny optimism of "Dancing Queen" and, erm, "Does Your Mother Know?". Thanks to Mamma Mia!, a generation of kids too young to remember the Seventies now know the words to "Honey, Honey" and are demanding the Abba SingStar karaoke game for Christmas. But, over in the motherland, Swedes themselves are seemingly ambivalent toward their biggest musical export, much in the same way that – in the better-off suburbs of Stockholm – Ikea isn't really a shop at which you admit buying anything other than meatballs.

On Friday night, the national Abba-abnegation was all but proven when my friends Emma and Andreas took me to a fancy dress party. The theme was the 1970s. Anywhere else in the world, this is concomitant with Agnetha wigs and "Money Money Money" on a loop. But the guests, to a blonde, wore giant Afro wigs and nary a spangled jumpsuit was in sight. And what did the speakers blare out all night long? The Rolling Stones.

Brit of a mistake

G-A-Y IS the biggest lesbian and gay club night in Europe. A cult event in London's West End that charges considerably less on the door than the average stadium venue, it still manages to book big names; the Spice Girls, Madonna and Björk have all played sets there, while Kylie is a regular. At G-A-Y, stars forgo honeymoon suite-sized dressing rooms in the hope that the pink vote will burnish their credibility. On Saturday, Britney Spears, below, was due to play at the club's new home at Heaven.

Whether it was because she was "relaxing" in the VIP room or simply uninterested, we'll never know, but she refused to go on – and riots ensued. Well, Britney, you messed up. You might think the job description allows diva behaviour: on tour, Mariah Carey reportedly insists on pink toilet roll and "doesn't do stairs", while J-Lo faxes over a two-page list of requirements in advance. But a plain old no-show hits a bad note.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Security Advisor – Permanent – Surrey - £60k-£70k

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

MI Analyst – Permanent – West Sussex – £25k-£35k

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job ? This is a new post...

Primary General Cover Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Southampton: We are looking for Primary School ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Photo issued by Flinders University of an artist's impression of a Microbrachius dicki mating scene  

One look at us Scots is enough to show how it was our fishy ancestors who invented sex

Donald MacInnes
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp  

Oscar Pistorius sentence: Judge Masipa might have shown mercy, but she has delivered perfect justice

Chris Maume
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album