Music Video of the Day: Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)


If you read yesterday’s post on the Flapper Dress version of Money, Money, Money; then you might want to go back to that post. I messed up. I have since found the actual Flapper Dress version and added it to the end of the post.

According to Wikipedia, this was based on Cabaret (1972), which explains the Flapper Dress version. But I found that out at the last minute, so let’s talk about this version as if I didn’t know that fact.

The video starts off by reminding us that while international in appeal, they are a Swedish band.

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Then we cut to Frida working hard for the money in white with the sun out on location in order…

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to contrast with the next shot of her in black on the edge of a spotlight in a studio.

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The spotlight showing Frida standing on the edge of stardom if you will. Note that the music video never shows Frida like that again as if it is a state to which she can’t or never will let herself return to again.

By the way, this might look familiar for two reasons. The first one is that the shot above is what Dancing In The Dark by Bruce Springsteen was originally supposed to look like.

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That was the version that was going to be directed by Jeff Stein who came to fame directing The Who rockumentary The Kids Are Alright (1979).

The other reason is that Holding Out For A Hero by Bonnie Tyler would use contrast between location shooting and a studio set. One where she is free, and the other where she is in the dark waiting for the hero of the title.

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That music video was directed by Doug Dowdle who started in music videos as an editor for Australian director Russell Mulcahy. While Mulcahy didn’t direct Holding Out For A Hero like he did Total Eclipse Of The Heart, it was written by Keith Williams who wrote the treatment for many of Russell Mulcahy’s music videos. I know I already said it in a previous post, but the Sailboat version of Knowing Me, Knowing You has parts that remind one of Rio by Duran Duran–which Mulcahy directed. ABBA was huge enough in Australia that ABBA: The Movie (1977) takes place there. No wonder music video director Kevin Kerslake once commented about how much music video directors borrowed from each other. Even if those connections are superficial, you probably could bring all music videos into some sort of Lasse Hallström universe, like the Tommy Westphall universe that apparently ties just about every TV Show after St. Elsewhere together. Moving on.

The camera now gives us a head-on shot of Frida where we can see her face has been divided into shadow and light.

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Now the chorus kicks in where we see Hallström timing shots of the band to the song. My favorite part here is how the coin and the spotlight are shown to be the same thing.

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Notice that this money is Swedish because that will soon change. You might also notice the poses of the band. It’s noteworthy that they shot this upwards with the guys behind Agnetha and Frida considering the chorus of the song.

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You’ll only see the guys and girls together in this shot, and when they are driving in the car.

The entire video seems to be drawing a parallel between the song’s story of a woman fascinated with being rich to escape the normal grind and ABBA’s career.

At about the halfway mark, we see the woman of the story appear to start coming into money as she puts on a ring. Marriage? I don’t know. Of course the fact that ABBA are Swedish, but sing in English in order to have international appeal, can be seen as a marriage to wealth by singing in someone else’s more well-known language. Most of the times that was English, but there are Spanish versions of some of their songs as well. Frida even did a version Fernando in Swedish. This ties in with the change of the kind of money later in the video. Today we have examples of this kind of thing in The Hives and PewDiePie.

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The lyrics now change to the woman going away somewhere to make money. Note that the ring is no longer on her finger.

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I don’t know if that means she isn’t married, or if it means she can buy the ring herself seeing as that is followed by riches and champagne, which includes more jewelry. You can see that she is the one who puts the ring on her finger. In addition, the money is now American dollars.

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They’ve gone international at this point. Pay attention to how she takes the money here because after some closeups, we’ll see her grab the cash.

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Why the closeups of their mouths? It was 1976. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hallström was going for a Deep Throat (1972) reference, which was still fresh in people’s minds having popped up in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and even Dirty Duck (1974). Seeing as Agnetha and Frida made money with their voices, whereas Benny and Björn did it by writing the songs, it’s not that much of a stretch. Everyone saw that movie back then. Even Jackie Kennedy saw it.

That, and Sweden’s ties to adult films during the 1970s. Their Linda Lovelace of the time probably being Christina Lindberg who returned to Sweden in the mid-1970s when she didn’t want to do hardcore sex scenes. It’s worth noting that Lindberg worked with director Joe Sarno on Swedish Wildcats (1972) because Sarno would go to direct the sequel to Deep Throat in 1974. Also, if Wikipedia is to be believed, then it was Gerard Damiano (director of Deep Throat) who urged Lindberg to return to Sweden because he knew she wouldn’t be comfortable with the direction the film they were making together was going.

Perhaps she is supposed to have been married seeing as the video shortly follows up the money grab with an intimidating shot of Björn…

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and cuts to Agnetha’s eye which appears to wink before cutting to her face. I say that because they were married in real life.

The video does eventually come back around to the Stockholm piano before taking us into the spotlight ourselves.

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I can see why Hallström once said this is the best ABBA music video he ever directed. I still prefer the Snow version of Knowing Me, Knowing You–but I get it. You can even read into the use of the colors of the spotlight. The women share both the blue and red spotlight solo, and with the guys. The guys only have the blue light when they are with the girls posing as the band. In the solo shots of them, it is the red light.

Yes, I did notice that Agnetha and Frida nearly kiss in the video before turning towards the camera. I wonder how many times it took before they could nail that without bumping into each other or stopping short.

Finally, I do know about the ties to royalty that most likely go along with showing the face of the Swedish coin and the American dollar. ABBA sang Dancing Queen at a special party in tribute to the new Swedish queen Silvia Sommerlath, whom married the King of Sweden in 1976. That king being the son of the man featured on the coin–Gustaf VI Adolf.

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I can see why they would compare Martha Washington–who married into wealth–and Silvia Sommerlath–who married into royalty–by also zooming in on George Washington.

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I’m sure there’s more in there having to do with Sommerlath, but the Wikipedia article runs up a lot of red flags, so something like her supposedly working as a flight attendant before marrying the king is not something I feel comfortable stating as fact. There’s probably also something to do with Louise Mountbatten who had married Gustaf VI Adolf, thus becoming Queen of Sweden before dying in 1965. Her husband died in 1973, at which point Carl XVI Gustaf became king and married Sommerlath three years later. They are still the King and Queen of Sweden to this day.

Enjoy!

ABBA retrospective:

  1. Bald Headed Woman by The Hep Stars (1966, dir. ???)
  2. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  3. Tangokavaljeren by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  4. Vårkänslor (ja, de’ ä våren) by Agnetha & Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  5. Titta in i men lilla kajuta by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  6. Nu Ska Vi Vara Snälla by Björn & Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  7. Finns Det Flickor by Björn & Sten Nilsson (1969, dir. ???)
  8. Nu Ska Vi Opp, Opp, Opp by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  9. Det Kommer En Vår by Agnetha (1969, dir. ???)
  10. Beate-Christine by Björn (1969, dir. ???)
  11. En Stilla Flirt by Agnetha & ??? (1969, dir. ???) + 8 Hootenanny Singers Videos From 1966
  12. Att Älska I Vårens Tid by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  13. Min Soldat by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  14. Söderhavets Sång by Frida (1970, dir. ???)
  15. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  16. Ring, Ring by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  17. Love Isn’t Easy (But It Sure Is Hard Enough) by ABBA (1973, dir. ???)
  18. Waterloo by ABBA (1974, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  19. Hasta Mañana by ABBA (1974, dir. ???)
  20. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  21. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. ???)
  22. Bang-A-Boomerang by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  23. SOS by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  24. Mamma Mia by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  25. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  26. Tropical Loveland by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  27. When I Kissed The Teacher by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  28. Tiger by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  29. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
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10 responses to “Music Video of the Day: Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)

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