Sep 242015
 

A friend of mine recently posted this song in his list of Favorite 100 Songs. As most of you know, I’m a fan girl; it’s one of my favorite songs but I hadn’t watched the video in years.

As true Rock connoisseurs, we have frequently discussed various bands’ visual styles. And while Abba is known for its sartorial excess, I think it’s time to take out those seam rippers and deconstruct their Look in this video.

It’s clear that there is no attempt at really playing music here. I mean, Benny’s boot heels are so high that he abandons the use of the piano pedals within the first few moments of the song. And as for the shoulder chains, if Bjorn’s guitar was really plugged in, wouldn’t they interfere with the amplification?

Additional questions that came to me: What is the meaning of Frida’s prominently-displayed fish pin? (I don’t know about you, but I think it clashes with the Glam Bohemian Cowgirl look she is sporting.) What is the symbolism of the chains? Is it time to bring back satin gaucho pants? As Benny is the only member of the group to wear lace cuffs, is he really the Barefoot Paul in the band? Is there any other Rock video which uses mirrored clothing to a greater degree?

I believe that there is a greater visual message being communicated to us through this video. Or is this look just further evidence that Abba is, as my friend eloquently put it, “Incredibly catchy, Eurovision-winning space aliens”?

Thank you.

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  6 Responses to “Help Me Understand: Abba’s Look in “Waterloo””

  1. I love this song. It’s one of 3 or 4 Abba songs I completely stand behind. However, the video contains probably the worst Look they ever managed to throw together. I’ll start with the boots…

    In concept, boots almost always seem like a cool idea. In practice, however, it’s extremely rare that anyone makes any style of boots work. First of all, you’ve got to have the right calves and wear the right pants. Short people can’t pull off boots. The short guy’s boots are half the size of his entire body. No! The blond has the proper long, thin thighs, however, her boots don’t fit right and she’s got the WRONG pants and pants style. Only a true gaucho and the crew members of the original television Star Trek Enterprise can wear their boots over bloused pantaloons.The rest of the world cannot. (And no one can pull off the ’80s-style boots over tight jeans.)

    http://images.yuku.com.s3.amazonaws.com/image/pjpeg/f7b15f66d78a89029751e97b4631040d50e981b.pjpg

    In general, any boots worn over pants are all wrong. Boots should imply their full bootiness, the way beautiful actresses of the ’30s and ’40s implied being fully naked. Seeing the whole boot over pants – all at once – looks terrible, unless you’re a gaucho or a member of the original television Star Trek Enterprise. Tease me when your pants legs ride up when you sit, and then tease me more when you throw one foot back and show a little more boot. (Boots with skirts can look great if the woman has the right calves, etc. The shirt cannot, however, be long, which gets me to my next problem…)

    Is that Frida with the bad perm and cowgirl shirt…and the long, flouncy skirt? YUCK! I’m sorry, but long, flouncy skirts almost universally suck. What do they prove? What do they suggest? Am I supposed to think it’s Harvest time under there? Choose one: skirt or pants. You can’t have it both ways with a silk shower curtain wrapped around your lower half. I’ll stop for now, so I can get back to work and let the heat from our flouncy skirt-wearing readers settle down a bit.

    Thanks. There’s a lot to discuss on this fascinating video.

  2. On the other hand, I’m down with the piano-playing guy’s ruffled shirt and the guitarist’s metal epaulets. Epaulets may be one of rock’s unfulfilled fashion ideas.

    I kind of like the blond’s blue hat. It’s got a Jazz Age feel to it, which is totally inappropriate in regard to her Space Age jumpsuit, but she pulls it off regardless.

    I think the band’s collective Look would have been a little bit better if both guys had blond beards.

  3. BigSteve

    “Is it time to bring back satin gaucho pants?”

    I say yes.

    What I think is weird is how cheap this video must have been to make. I know this is before the era of expensive MTV videos, but it’s just them miming in front of, what, three cameras? This song won the Eurovision contest?

    I don’t really like the song (it’s no Dancing Queen), but it’s a good early example of that kind of piano flourish, supposedly borrowed from Rachmaninoff, that was later borrowed by Elvis Costello and Steve Nieve for Oliver’s Army.

    But back to their Look….

  4. ladymisskirroyale

    If you want to see a slightly more updated version of “Waterloo,” check out Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths bringing a more space-age interpretation of Abba’s look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xqti-Sxsxk4

  5. BabaOLewie

    I’m most impressed with the dude’s guitar. That’s the most starbursty guitar ever. I don’t think Ace Freely or Bootsy even ever matched that. It’s a perfect 3D rendering of a seven-year-old’s shit-art depiction of the sun. Warning: don’t look straight at it!

 
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