The Winner Takes It All

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The Winner Takes It All
publication July 21, 1980
length 4:55
Genre (s) Pop / ballad
Author (s) Benny Andersson , Björn Ulvaeus
album Super trouper

The Winner Takes It All is a song by the Swedish pop group ABBA . It was written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus , and Agnetha Fältskog took over the lead vocals . The play is about a woman who has lost her husband to another woman. In July 1980, The Winner Takes It All was released as the first single from the album Super Trouper , which was released in November of the same year.


The first steps in the production of The Winner Takes It All were undertaken in June 1980 when the musicians were busy recording the new album. Under the working title The Story of My Life , a first melody was recorded on June 2, which had, according to Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus a slightly French sound, not least because of the sung by Ulvaeus to dummy text . The production of this melody was not continued, however, because after listening to it several times in the car on the way home it sounded “much too stiff” in her opinion.

In the further course, Andersson came up with the music with the descending piano figures, which can be heard over and over again in the course of the song. Ulvaeus was now working on the lyrics and was inspired by the melody to write about a broken love affair. He later said that he sat down with a bottle of whiskey and wrote the full lyrics within an hour. Although his divorce from Agnetha Fältskog served as inspiration, the text is not literally about this situation.

With the finished music and the text, a new recording was made on June 6, 1980 with Fältskog as the lead singer , although at first they thought about having Ulvaeus sing. He said in an interview that he was happy that he had rejected this proposal.

The following musicians contributed to the recording:

Those involved in the production of the song later said that the melancholy and meaning of The Winner Takes It All after it was recorded in the studio made many cry over it. Fältskog in particular was enthusiastic about this song and later described it in several interviews as "the best ABBA song ever".

Post-production lasted until June 18, 1980, when The Winner Takes It All was mixed up . The single was released on July 21, 1980 with the song Elaine on the B-side, which was produced during the recording sessions of Super Trouper , but was later not included on the album's tracklist.

Music video

On July 12, 1980, the music video for the song was shot in Marstrand near Gothenburg in about five hours. The location was chosen because director Lasse Hallström was working on a movie there. Both Fältskog and Ulvaeus took their then companions with them to the shoot. The black and white shots of the group that lead in and out were supposed to show that it was ABBA themselves who had once experienced these happy times. Fältskog was consciously no longer portrayed as the "sex symbol" of the past with the washed-out perm, her blue eyeshadow and red clothing.


Chart positions
Explanation of the data
The Winner Takes It All
  DE 4th 08/04/1980 (29 weeks)
  AT 3 09/01/1980 (18 weeks)
  CH 3 08/03/1980 (11 weeks)
  UK 1Template: Infobox chart placements / maintenance / NR1 link 08/02/1980 (10 weeks)
  US 8th 11/22/1980 (26 weeks)
  SE 2 08/08/1980 (8 weeks)

With The Winner Takes It All , ABBA placed in the top ten of the charts in 21 countries , including Germany, France (5th place), the USA and Australia (7th place). In the UK the single became ABBA's penultimate number one hit . It also reached the top position in Belgium, Ireland and South Africa. Aside from its commercial success, the song is also significant for the group in retrospect in that they had developed their musical style to the point that the criticism that had been heard so far that ABBA's music was too commercial and not profound enough could be invalidated. An accusation that the group heard repeatedly over many years of their career.

Cover versions

The Winner Takes It All has been reinterpreted by numerous other artists and is one of the most frequently covered ABBA songs. Over fifty cover versions have been made since the original was published in 1980 . One of the first was a part of the Stars on 45 ABBA medley in 1981 . Later sang the song among others Mireille Mathieu (1981), Beverley Craven (1993), Laura Branigan , Hazell Dean (1996), Dana Winner (2001), Samantha Fox (2004), Angelika Milster , Anne Sofie von Otter , Tina Arena ( 2006), Solveig Slettahjell (2011) and the bands E-Rotic (1997), The Corrs (1999), At Vance (2001), Sweetbox (2006), McFly , Abbacadabra (2008), Il Divo (2008), the latter in Spanish language as Va todo al ganado and Cher (2018).

There are also German versions with the title Nur Sieger Stand'n im Licht by Marianne Rosenberg (1980), which in turn was sung by Jeanette Biedermann in 2000 , and with the title Tränen Sie haben nicht von Kristina Bach (1993) and Bravo , tu as gagné a French by Mireille Mathieu (1981). As part of the filming of the musical Mamma Mia! Meryl Streep offered the song. In addition, The Winner Takes It All was also recorded instrumentally by some artists.

In 2010, country singer Faith Hill, accompanied by Anderson at the piano, sang the song on the occasion of ABBA's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame , which she had already covered on her Soul2Soul II tour in 2006/2007 .


  • Carl Magnus Palm: Light and Shadow. ABBA - The real story. Bosworth Musikverlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-86543-100-4 (German translation: Helmut Müller).
  • Carl Magnus Palm: Abba. Story and songs compact. Bosworth Music, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-86543-227-8 (compact story and songs; German translation: Cecilia Senge).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Carl Magnus Palm: Light and Shadow - ABBA The True Story , p. 494
  2. ^ Carl Magnus Palm: ABBA - Story and Songs compact , p. 71 and p. 72
  3. Super Trouper on
  4. Carl Magnus Palm: Light and Shadow - ABBA The True Story , p. 495
  5. ^ ABBA - The Winner Takes It All / Elaine
  6. ^ A b c Carl Magnus Palm: Light and Shadow - ABBA The True Story , pp. 496–497
  7. Charts DE Charts AT Charts CH Charts UK Charts US Charts SE
  8. Carl Magnus Palm: Light and Shadow. ABBA - The real story. , P. 496
  9. Photos of Faith Hill ( Memento from August 17, 2016 in the Internet Archive )