Published on July 15, 2016
“Mamma Mia” is a song recorded by the Swedish pop group ABBA, written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Stig Anderson, with the lead vocals shared by Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. It is the opening track on the group’s third album, the self-titled ABBA. The song’s name is derived from Italian, where it is an interjection used in situations of surprise, anguish, or excitement (literally, “My mother”).
The distinctive sound at the start of the song is the marimba.
“Mamma Mia” was written at the home of Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus, and was the last track recorded for the album ABBA. It was one of four songs from the album to have a music video made to promote the album. Initially however, “Mamma Mia” was never intended for release as a single. Around this time, many artists were recording ABBA songs (such as “Honey, Honey” and “Bang a Boomerang”).
When “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” topped the Australian charts for 3 weeks, the Australian public was hungry for more ABBA – the beginnings of ABBAmania. It was the promo clip for “Mamma Mia” that was proving the most popular after repeat screenings on Australian television, notably Molly Meldrum’s Countdown. ABBA’s Australian record company, RCA, asked that “Mamma Mia” be released as a single but Polar Music refused. However, Stig Anderson would agree to this and “Mamma Mia” was released in Australia in August 1975 where it spent 10 weeks at number one.
After this success in Australia, Epic Records in the United Kingdom took notice of ABBA for the first time since Eurovision and “Waterloo”. From then on, Epic began to heavily promote ABBA’s singles with the immediate result of “S.O.S.” reaching the Top 10 in the important British market, their first hit since “Waterloo”. “Mamma Mia” soon followed reaching number one on the British charts in early 1976, the second of ABBA’s 18 consecutive Top 10 singles.
The B-side for the Australian release of “Mamma Mia” was “Hey, Hey Helen”. In most other countries the B-Side was the instrumental “Intermezzo Number 1”. ABBA’s British label Epic selected “Tropical Loveland” as the B-side for the UK release, feeling another vocal track, especially one showcasing ABBA in a different musical style would better promote the parent album.
In the UK Singles Chart on 31 January 1976, “Mamma Mia” replaced Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the number 1 position.