Monday 30 December 2013

The final Diary Entry of 2013 so I think it is about time we discussed ABBA.

I started writing this a couple of weeks ago and totally forgot to post it so I thought I might as well share it now. I have a lovely little piece about SuBo and everyone's favourite, Katherine Jenkins, coming but I don't want to rush it so it will be the first Diary Entry of 2014. Only SuBo and Our Kath are worthy of this accolade. But for now let us turn our attention to Sweden and 4 people who were definitely instrumental in my increasing desire to be a singer as a child. I apologise for any typos regarding names. I have checked and double checked but I may have used the wrong resource to get definitive spellings.

I started writing this having returned home from a kicking night out in Croydon (in truth it was a dirty Chinese meal and a couple of chocolate Bailey's with me mate Helen but for me that is quite kicking). I turned on the telly box to find ABBA Live in Concert on Channel 5 and I thought they deserved a mention. 

I have always loved ABBA, not just because of their ability to put together an infectious, cheesy pop song (I love that too) but because of the quality of their vocals. In particular Agnetha Fältskog. Agnetha was always my favourite girl and Björn Ulvaeus my favourite boy. It seemed so magical, even at 6 years old, to think that these two beautiful blonde people were married. I was distraught when they split up.

As a child I had a fascination with blonde people. I think it was because my hair was, and still is, SO brown. I befriended lots of blonde children whilst at infant school. One girl had very fine, almost white hair that I coveted so. I preferred Jenna to Cally in "Blake's 7" (possibly the greatest TV series ever produced) all because of her beautiful blonde hair. 

I am no longer a huge fan of blonde hair (fickle, some might say). I must tell you I would not now swap my thick, dark brown hair for anything but I always find it odd that I was so anti-brunette as a child. To the point that I actually hated (a bit strong maybe) Anni-Frid (the other girl in ABBA) but Agnetha could do no wrong. As it happens I do still prefer Agnetha but as a singer not because of her hair colour. Her range is incredible and effortless. It seems like she can sing anything. During the programme they showed a bit of the girls warming up before a concert and they were both doing scales like an opera singer. Up and down, seamlessly through their ranges. It is something I try and encourage my musical theatre and pop students to do. Warm up your head voice before you try to belt and it will last an awful lot longer. 

I think Agnetha's vocal ability is the main reason that people find it so hard to cover their songs. I don't think I have ever heard anyone sing an ABBA song anywhere near as well as the group themselves sang them originally. One song that many girls would have a bit of trouble with, I reckon, is "It's got to be rock and roll". In the middle of this top tune Agnetha soars up to a top B. Not in full belt but a very convincing mix. I know very few who could do this in the way she does it (I know there are other girls who can do it but can they do everything else this super human singer can do? OK, yes, probably). I think the thing that impresses me the most about this blonde goddess is that she makes it sound SO easy. When you hear "Dancing Queen" it sounds so simple so you sing along. You then realise it is trickier to hit the notes like the ABBA girls do and end up basically shouting (or is that just me?).

So I think we have established I am a bit of an ABBA fan. A party would not be complete without a couple of ABBA songs. They are the perfect pop group right down to the cat suits they all used to wear. As you undoubtedly sing along to one or more ABBA tunes while heralding in the New Year take note of how easy or hard you find it to emulate their sound. I am pretty sure you will agree it is not as easy as you think (unless you are my mates Julie Stark or Alison Jiear, they would probably have no trouble rising to this challenge). The only thing that would make ABBA more perfect to me now is if Agnetha were to dye her hair brown!

Happy New Year!

Ps it is only fitting I leave you with a little ABBA gem to see you into 2014. Click here for a blast from the past.

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