I recently got a copy of the Abba Gold DVD. It’s the equivalent of musical cotton candy — lots of very bouncy, catching tunes, with lots of rich, albeit simple harmonies. It was a certain sense of horror thatI found out how much I enjoyed listening to 45 minutes of nothing but 70’s pop music.

After listening to the whole DVD a couple of times (I was using it as background music while working), I noticed something interesting about the topics of many of the songs on their Gold album. A very large number of them dealt either with the beginning or the end of relationships:

  • Knowing me, knowing you — (nothing we can do) about an impending breakup
  • Take a chance on me — and try starting a relationship with me
  • Mamma Mia — loving someone after a breakup
  • Lay all your love on me — being jealous about rivals
  • The winner takes it all — about Bjorn and Agnetha’s divorce
  • S.O.S. — whatever happened to our love?
  • Chiquitta — helping a friend deal with heartbreak
  • Does your mother know? — saying no to jailbait
  • One of us — is miserable after moving out
  • The name of the game — uncertaininties at the beginning of a relationship
  • Waterloo — realizing that you’re in love

Of course, not all of the songs were about relationships. Fernando is an anti-war song, and Money, Money, Money is a fun anti-materialistic screed. But nevertheless, most of the songs elevated and glamorized the beginnings and endings of relationships.
Perhaps this is because there isn’t as much dramatic tension and interest in talking about effort and joys of keeping a relationship going over the long-term.

I became aware of this after I had gotten past enjoying the catchy tune
and energetic baselines, and started paying attention to the lyrics, and realizing
that the words themselves really didn’t speak to me very much, even though I liked
the music very much. Thinking about this, I don’t believe it’s unique
to this album, or even to Abba — although perhaps it’s a bit more
exaggerated than compared with other groups. I do wonder though if this kind of pop culture has
any kind of impact on how people perceive and live out their relationships.

Maybe I’m being too much of a romantic, but I can’t help thinking
and hoping that it might increase the global happiness of the world by
some small amount if pop music had more music that was supportive of
couples, and didn’t focus so much on the breakups and the aftermath; if
there were more songs that talked about the joys
of being together the long haul, and the compromises and hard works
necessary to make things work, and why it’s really worth it.