One of Us (ABBA song)

"One of Us"
Single by ABBA
from the album The Visitors
B-side "Should I Laugh or Cry"
Released December 7, 1981 (Sweden)
December 4, 1981 (UK)[1]
February 12, 1983 (US)
Format 7" single
Recorded October 21, 1981
at Polar Music Studios
Genre Pop / Europop
Length 3:55
Label Polar (Sweden)
Epic (UK)
Atlantic (US)
Writer(s) Benny Andersson
Björn Ulvaeus
Producer Benny Andersson
Björn Ulvaeus
Certification Gold (UK)
ABBA singles chronology
"Lay All Your Love on Me"
(1981)
"One of Us"
(1981)
"Slipping Through My Fingers"
(1981)

"One of Us" from 1981 was the first single from Swedish pop group ABBA's final studio album The Visitors, their eighth for Polar, and their seventh for Epic and Atlantic. The song is also included on the ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits compilation.

Contents

History

"One of Us," which had the working titles "Number 1" and "Mio Amore", was one of the last songs recorded for ABBA's 1981 album The Visitors, and features a lead vocal by Agnetha Faltskog. It was one of a number of tracks that explored the darker territory of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson's songwriting as the two men's divorces were beginning to influence their musical output. Indeed, the message of the song was about a woman trying to revive a dead relationship. Despite the somewhat depressing context and reservations by manager Stig Anderson, "One of Us" was released as the 1st single from The Visitors, coupled with the non-album track "Should I Laugh or Cry" Ulvaeus had favored releasing it as the 1st single from the new album and was vindicated when the majority of the record companies agreed with him. Indeed, it proved to be a wise move as it was ABBA's last #1 single. The decision to release this as a single was made so late that it wasn't available in Swedish shops until after the album "The Visitors" had been released.

In the United Kingdom, this single was issued in a different sleeve. The official sleeve depicted the album cover photo, and was used in most countries. Epic Records wanted it different for the British release, and used separate photos of the group members together with a large ABBA logo. Agnetha and Frida appeared on the front cover, with Bjorn and Benny on the back. The photos were actually out-of-date, as Frida was depicted still with her frizzy perm, while Bjorn was beardless. A limited edition picture disc using very similar artwork was also issued, Epic Records again making up for their earlier poor presentation of ABBA singles up until mid-1979.

The B-side, "Should I Laugh or Cry", included a spoken count-in (in Swedish) from Benny. This count-in appeared on UK and South African releases, but not internationally. The master tapes supplied to Epic contained the error, but were not picked up in time, and so appeared on the single release. In the early 2000s, Epic's rights to ABBA's music in the UK had long since expired. However, they still owned all the UK master tapes for the singles. These were then returned to Polar Music (itself owned by Universal Music) in Stockholm, who later issued the error count-in version as a "rarity" in The Complete Studio Recordings boxed set, thereby making it available to a worldwide audience (and on CD for the first time).

Reception

"One of Us" was ABBA's last major hit, and their last #1 single in many countries. It became ABBA's 13th and final Eurochart and Ireland #1 single, and also topped the charts in Belgium, West Germany and the Netherlands, while reaching the Top 3 in ABBA's native Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and the UK. It also hit the Top 10 in Australia, South Africa, Norway, Spain and France.

The track debuted at #11 on the UK Singles Chart on December 12, 1981 and peaked at #3 the following week, where it stayed for 3 weeks. After 10 weeks in the charts, it exited on February 13, 1982. When "One of Us" was released as a single in the United States in February 1983, it proved to be ABBA's worst ever performing charting song in that territory, reaching a high of #107, though it should be pointed out that the song was released over a year after its release elsewhere and ABBA had disbanded by this time. Nevertheless, "One of Us" was ABBA's swansong in terms of their hit-making career.

Music video

In November 1981, the music video was shot in a studio with mirrors. It sees a woman adopting life after a breakup in her first house living in alone after her marriage. This is intercepted with the female members of the group changing outfits.

Chart positions

Chart Position
Australian Singles Chart 4
Austrian Singles Chart 3
Belgian Singles Chart 1
Dutch Singles Chart 1
Eurochart Hot 100 Singles 1
Finnish Singles Chart 17
French Singles Chart 9
German Singles Chart 1
Irish Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 43
Norwegian Singles Chart 6
South African Singles Chart 4
Spanish Singles Chart 7
Swedish Singles Chart 2
Swiss Singles Chart 3
UK Singles Chart[2] 3
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 107

Parody

It has often been said that, following its success as a single in the UK, "One of Us" was parodied in a sketch [3] on the BBC comedy programme, Not the Nine O'Clock News. Renamed "Supa Dupa", the sketch comprised a musical parody (also lampooning Super Trouper and the general style of ABBA's music and videos). It included the following satirical lyrics about ABBA (intended to apply equally to the Not the Nine O'Clock News team themselves):

One of us is ugly; one of us is cute.
One of us you'd like to see in her birthday suit.
Two of us write music; two have way a song.
Sorry, in translation, that line come out wrong.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog were played respectively by Griff Rhys Jones, Mel Smith, Rowan Atkinson and Pamela Stephenson.

In fact, the episode of Not the Nine O'Clock News dates from December 15, 1980[4], well before the release of "One of Us" by ABBA.

A-Teens version

The A-Teens released a version on their debut album The ABBA Generation in 1999.

As an attempt to promote the A-Teens a bit more, Universal Music released a one-track promo single of "One of Us" on radio in late 1999. The song was promoted in Scandinavia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Japan.

A special music video was filmed for a TV special in Sweden. It was not used as an official video. It shows parts of shows in Sweden and behind-the-scenes footage of the band having fun, waiting in a room of Stockholm Records' building.

Other cover versions

  • With lyrics in German, as Ich Sah Deine Tränen, schlager singer Marianne Rosenberg recorded the song. This version peaked at #66 on the singles chart in the former West Germany in 1982.
  • Swedish eurodance singer Pandora covered the song 1995. Her version was released as a single and included as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of her 1995 album Tell the World. The song was later re-recorded and remixed in 2008 as a single by the United DJ's.
  • Almighty Records released a dance cover version of the song by Abbacadabra in the late 1990s. An audio sample can be heard on the official Almighty Records website.[5]
  • French pianist Richard Clayderman recorded his instrumental version, together with 14 other ABBA songs, for his 1993 studio album, Richard Clayderman Plays ABBA.
  • A eurodance dance cover by the group Angeleyes was included on their 1999 album ABBAdance.
  • German rave/techno group Dune (German band) recorded a slow, orchestral version of the song for their 1998 album Forever and Ever with The London Session Orchestra. Their version featured singer Tina Lacebal on vocals.
  • British singer Hazell Dean recorded a cover of this song for her 1996 tribute album "The Winner Takes It All: Hazell Dean Sings ABBA".
  • The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus recorded a cover of the song for their 1997 album ExtrABBAganza!.
  • A version by British pop duo Go West was included on the 1999 album ABBA: A Tribute - The 25th Anniversary Celebration.
  • The 2001 compilation ABBAMetal (also released as A Tribute to ABBA) featured a rendition by German gothic metal band Flowing Tears.
  • Spanish singer-songwriter Javier Álvarez included an English language rendition of the song on his 2001 album Grandes éxitos.
  • A dance cover of the song by Donna Burke was included on the 2001 Japanese import ABBA Ibiza Caliente Mix compilation.
  • Swedish eurodance/pop group Da Buzz included a cover of the song as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of their 2002 album Wanna Be With Me. Their version slightly reworks the melody of the song, but keeps the original lyrics intact.
  • The German "ABBA Mania" album, (which coincided with a TV special) has a cover of the song by pop group US5.
  • A cover of the song by Finnish a cappella choral ensemble Rajaton can be found on their 2006 ABBA tribute album Rajaton Sings ABBA With Lahti Symphony Orchestra.
  • The song was covered in a jazz/lounge music style by American group BNB on their 2008 album Bossa Mia: Songs of ABBA.[6]
  • The song is performed in Mamma Mia! by the character, Donna. In the context of the musical, the song is sung by Donna, explaining how lonely she felt when Sam left the island twenty years earlier. However, it was one of the omitted songs in the 2008 Mamma Mia! movie adaptation.

References


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