ABBA – The Winner Takes It All

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Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores lesser known tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

ABBA’s impact on pop culture over the last 35 years cannot really be disputed. It used to be in the “anti-pop” days of the early 90’s (grunge anyone?) there was more of a disdain towards all things pop. Slowly this stance began to change and indie stars such as Stephen Merritt of The Magnetic Fields would openly talk about their love of ABBA (the film Muriel’s Wedding also helped). Personally – I love their singles but have had a harder time falling in love with any album all the way through. For me, the quintessential ABBA song is the British #1 hit (#8 in the US) “The Winner Takes It All”. Here we have a song that details the aftermath of a divorce that coincidentally came out almost immediately after ABBA members Björn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog divorced. The vocals are handled by Fältskog and in my opinion it is the finest vocal performance of her career. All band members deny that the song is actually about the real life divorce, but consider me just a bit skeptical about that claim. The video for the song brings all the heartbreaking lyrics to life, leaving me with the thought “How on Earth did they manage to take such pain and create one of the finest songs ever cut out of it?” And you know what, maybe that’s the answer – this is a song from the heart, for the heartbroken (or those who remember the pain of being heartbroken). Key lyrics:

I don’t wanna talk
If it makes you feel sad
And I understand
You’ve come to shake my hand
I apologize
If it makes you feel bad
Seeing me so tense
No self-confidence
But you see
The winner takes it all
The winner takes it all

 

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Lana Del Rey – Born to Die

In 1993 I was starting 11th grade in a suburban Philadelphia high school and as most kids are at that age – uncertain about a lot of things. As things tend to do for teenagers things always came back to music. This was a very strange time to be in high school – we had the emergence of grunge with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. On the opposite side we also saw the rise of Dr. Dre, newly solo from the group N.W.A, his protegé Snoop Doggy Dogg, and gangsta rap. Honestly, I loved it all. There was also a strange pop-ish band out of Sweden evoking the spirit of Abba that went by the name of Ace of Base. I remember sitting in my behavioral science class with a friend who was a huge Pantera fan and we started talking about how many times we had heard the song “All That She Wants” on the radio that day. Strangely we both agreed – it was a pretty damn good song. What’s the correlation? Lana Del Rey is 2012’s version of Ace of Base – catchy as hell, a bit polarizing, and a lot of fun.

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