Music Video of the Day: The Winner Takes It All by ABBA (1980, dir. Lasse Hallström)


If Lasse Hallström’s intent was to make Agnetha look the opposite of the way she did in the music video for The Name Of The Game, then he succeeded.

The Name Of The Game by ABBA (1977)

The Name Of The Game by ABBA (1977)

Come to think of it, I bet that was his intention. If The Name Of The Game is the start of a relationship, then The Winner Takes It All is when it falls apart. We even get a reverse of the table scene.

Together

The Name Of The Game by ABBA (1977)

The Name Of The Game by ABBA (1977)

Agnetha together, but alone.

This was the same year that Agnetha and Björn got divorced. There’s been talk of whether the song was written specifically about their divorce. Wikipedia says that Björn claims that the song wasn’t written about their divorce. Songfacts says it was 90% or entirely about it. They can’t seem to make up their mind. I also question the accuracy of their “facts”.

Like Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way,” this evokes some very Behind The Music moments as the male band member wrote deeply personal lyrics about a female bandmate. At least Stevie Nicks didn’t have to sing lead on Lindsey Buckingham’s lyrics like Agnetha did with Bjorn’s.

I don’t think it was written specifically about their divorce. The reason being that this is hardly the first song Benny and Björn wrote that covered this area: SOS; Knowing Me, Knowing You; Thank You For The Music; and their career kicked off with that little song called Waterloo. Relationships, defeat, and ends were a thing for ABBA in general. I believe that this one was born out of Björn’s personal experience that hit very close to home–not a musical document of their actual divorce.

At the start of the video, we are greeted with still shots of the band looking happy and glamorous before we cut to Agnetha looking like she was just run through a dryer. Those shots are the centerpiece of the video. Sometimes she is shown on her own, and other times we see her shot through Benny’s out of focus hands playing the piano.

In between, we get some flashback shots and others that were filmed on the island of Marstrand along the coast of Sweden.

While you watch, keep looking for Björn in the present part of the video. He barely shows up. Neither does the rest of the band, but considering the material of the song, and Agnetha being the one singing it, you notice.

Also, notice that Agnetha is wearing the same outfit whether she is laughing at the bar…

or sad at the bar.

Maybe that was done because those were the outfits they had on at the time, and they simply used them in the video. I don’t think so seeing as ABBA is well-known for their costumes. Regardless of whether it was done on purpose or not, it draws our attention away from everything else in the frame, and puts the focus solely on her face, since it’s the only thing that has noticeably changed.

Finally, you’ll see that the last photo at the beginning of the video is of Björn, before they go to Agnetha.

The last photo at the end before cutting to the final shot of Agnetha is of the group all-together.

A split from Björn, but not from the group–yet. I find it interesting that Hallström chose a shot of the band where only Agnetha looks happy before going to the solitary, sad shot at the end of this post.

I mentioned before that I don’t think Björn intended this to be a biographical song of his and Agnetha’s divorce. Lyrics from Knowing Me, Knowing You are “walking through an empty house/tears in my eyes/here is where the story ends/this is goodbye.” That was back in 1976. Take that however you want.

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. Honey Honey by ABBA (1974, dir. ???)
  20. Hasta Mañana by ABBA (1974, dir. ???)
  21. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  22. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do by ABBA (1975, dir. ???)
  23. Bang-A-Boomerang by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  24. SOS by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  25. Mamma Mia by ABBA (1975, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  26. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  27. Tropical Loveland by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  28. When I Kissed The Teacher by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  29. Tiger by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  30. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. ???)
  31. Money, Money, Money by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  32. Fernando by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström) + Spanish Version
  33. My Love, My Life by ABBA (1976, dir. Per Falkman)
  34. Dancing Queen by ABBA (1976, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  35. That’s Me by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  36. Knowing Me, Knowing You by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  37. The Name Of The Game by ABBA (1977, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  38. Thank You For The Music/Gracias Por La Música by ABBA (1977/1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  39. One Man, One Woman by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  40. Take A Chance On Me by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  41. Eagle by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  42. Summer Night City by ABBA (1978, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  43. Estoy Soñando by ABBA (1979, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  44. Chiquitia by ABBA (1979, dir. ???)
  45. Does Your Mother Know by ABBA (1979, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  46. Voulez-Vous by ABBA (1979, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  47. Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! (A Man After Midnight) by ABBA (1979, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  48. Conociéndome, Conociéndote by ABBA (1980, dir. Lasse Hallström)
  49. I Have A Dream by ABBA (1980, dir. Urban Lasson)
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2 responses to “Music Video of the Day: The Winner Takes It All by ABBA (1980, dir. Lasse Hallström)

  1. Pingback: Music Video of the Day: On And On And On by ABBA (1980, dir. Anders Hanser) | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Music Video of the Day: Hovas Vittne by ABBA (1981, dir. ???) | Through the Shattered Lens

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