“Dancing Queen” by ABBA (1976)

A few random observations.

“Dancing Queen” might’ve been the poppiest thing in the massive collection of 45s I inherited from my aunts and uncles as a kid. Pretty much everything we owned was in an R&B/funk wheelhouse, even if it was by a traditionally pop artist (i.e. Saturday Night Fever, Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown”, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”) “Dancing Queen” isn’t funky and I’d say it barely qualifies as soulful. Oh wait, we did own a Warren Zevon album that I’d have to imagine was either given to a member of my family or purchased by accident.

I’ve mentioned before how my days at Tower Records (specifically the 66th/Broadway/Lincoln Center location) were pivotal in the beginning stages of figuring out my queer identity. One of the guys who ran the video department was named Stephan. He was a queer Indian Brit who was a walking, talking stereotype. He went out dancing just about every night, and worshipped the ground ABBA walked on. There were times when he would walk into the store to start his shift and, on cue, someone in his department would start playing “Dancing Queen” over the loudspeaker. He loved it. I occasionally spot him on Facebook through mutual friends. Doesn’t seem as though he’s changed much. Good for him.

You’re probably not surprised that “Dancing Queen” has been sampled, but did you know that it was sampled by 98 Degrees? There’s a song on their second album called “Fly With Me”. Pras produced it, and because there’s not a mass-appeal pop hit from the ‘70s or ‘80s that a Fugee would not pilfer, he decided to loop the intro of “Dancing Queen”. Shameless. But kinda catchy, Which–again–the Fugees in a nutshell.

There is something to be said for the immaculate pop music that seems to emerge from Sweden every few years. While I can’t say I’ve ever been totally resistant to ABBA’s charms, I can say I’ve grown to appreciate them more as I’ve gotten older. “Dancing Queen” was my first experience with them, was their most popular song in the U.S. (their only American number one!) and remains a textbook example in how to write ear candy.

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