(Blogger note: Except for 2013-14 updates below, much of this website was written between 2009-11. Reader update: All 'abba4ever' forum hyperlinks (within the blog's text) are defunct. (Forum has closed.))

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An icon's icon? Dusty was one (of them).

 Listening to and emulating her singing idols for many hours as a girl: One of the more endearing elements of ex-ABBA singer Agnetha Fältskog's life story. (Ref. pages 23-24, As I Am biography, 1996.)

The young Swedish girl had great popular music voices to sing along with in the late 1950s and - certainly -  the incredible decade that followed. As quoted in association with the recording of her 2004 comeback album, My Colouring Book, Agnetha articulates:

"...My own prime motivation has been the love for songs from the 50's and 60's, where there are very, very strong melodies and poignant lyrics. Many recordings from the time are fantastic. I feel very happy that I was so young when everything exploded in popular music. With this album I want to act as an intermediary of my experiences with these songs and artists. It's a tribute to them and what they've given me."

American pop singer Connie Francis was chief among the female vocalists that Agnetha admired.(Ref.: "Connie Francis was my great idol.", page 23, As I Am.)  But other favorites of the 1960s that Ms. Fältskog studied included Petula Clark, Cilla Black and Sandie Shaw(All English/British singers...perhaps one reason that Agnetha developed good skills with that language for singing, etc.)

And, one other (page 24): DUSTY


 (screen cap/edit)

Dusty Springfield is rightfully a legend. For a number of reasons, but we'll center on her full, throaty, smoky, sensual-at-times, breathy-at-times, emotive (etc.,etc.) voice. This writer is not an expert about the 1999 Rock Hall of Fame inductee. But whether you were an eight-year-old kid listening to American popular music radio when "I Only Want To Be With You" burst forth (YT link), or to any of her later, soulful efforts; you knew right away: THAT was a powerful female voice.  

(Added note: Like Agnetha's, Dusty's speaking voice was appealing, too: Link to her funny interview (YouTube video) with The Beatles from the time...Also, both singers were fine interpreters of songs, though Ms. Springfield may have been one of the very best of all.)

A link to a current YouTube video/song from Ms. Springfield follows, as a sample. Full-voiced, hell-raiser Dusty was - in several ways - things that (likely) pop soprano/devoted mother Agnetha was not. The Swedish singer's sweet, clear, but thinner-at-times voice isn't a match for the soulful force of Dusty('s). However in her own, unique way, Ms. Fältskog could convey emotion, versatility (additional example (link)), and power via her near-perfect feminine voice. (Sample links above.)

Apprenticing, on her own. Singing with and emulating some of the best from the time. Agnetha learned from such stars, could mimic a few very well; but she also developed her own unique sound. Becoming a pop music icon in her own right (for a few reasons), as well.

Link via YouTube to a currently available Dusty Springfield song, from 1967: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a28kY1-s-Vc&fmt=18

Worthwhile 2010 update: Catch a much more recent glimpse of "Agnetha at 60", via the following distillation of Sweden's 'M-Magazine''s - perhaps image-changing - article. (Completed with Ms. Fältskog in December.) An English translation of the full article is linked here.

(Note: This post is backdated to better position within the order of entries. Its actual creation date is 10/10.)

© 2010 (original portions)  Link to my full blog: http://star4abba.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 12, 2009

FAQ: Why hasn't Sweden's 'Litteris et Artibus' medal been awarded to ABBA's Agnetha?

 (2012 update: Agnetha gains recognition of a different form. More here (link, new window). 2014 update: Not quite the same as what is detailed below, but ABBA receives an (apparently) official prize, as detailed via this off-site forum link: http://www.iphpbb.com/board/ftopic-30652567nx61610-14716.html#625407 
...And one more belated update to the 2009 post that follows: I've learned from this website (link) that Agnetha once received a "gold medal from the king" (of Sweden) around the time of further honors from her birthplace (Jönköping), in 1984.)

(Previously written text follows, from 2009-10:)

Huh? OK, that question might not be on your '411' short list. And it's very likely not on the docket of ABBA's Agnetha [aŋˈneːta] Fältskog. But we're here, the question's been posed, so let's briefly work through this together why don't we. Perhaps someone who actually knows can enlighten ABBA/Agnetha fans about this one. (Note: Links below are light blue.)

Beyond what is shown on the web site for The Swedish Royal Court I admittedly know little about the subject. That source says that the Litteris et Artibus royal medal "... is awarded for outstanding service to the arts, especially to music, dramatic art and literature."
Also from the royal site, re Medals (in general) : "Medals are presented to Swedish and foreign citizens for outstanding contributions that benefit society and also in commemoration of significant people or important events."

Agnetha's former husband and ABBA band-mate Björn Ulvaeus was awarded this medal in 1999. Without knowing all of the criteria it's still fairly easy to understand why. He, along with co-writer Benny Andersson (ex-ABBA) have made significant music composition contributions since ABBA. And, of course, they were the (primary) writers of the successful group's many popular songs. (So why hasn't ABBA's musical "engine" Benny Andersson also been awarded this medal? Updated note: Mr. Andersson apparently has a few (other) honors of his own (link)....))

I'm not certain who (in Sweden) selects appropriate recipients of this medal, though it's likely H.M. The King himself and/or appropriate individuals with some formal (i.e., royal) association. And I'd guess that most of the rest of us don't know all of the criteria or qualifications for such an award.

Please note:
This is not the launch of a "mouse potato" campaign on anyone's behalf. (I.e., Ms. Fältskog.) I might be fairly presumptuous at times, but (even) I would not be that forward. (BTW, the artist is reputedly not a PC/Internet user.)  And per below, she doesn't need 'help'.

All that said: The interesting question remains. Out of curiosity, why hasn't this Swedish royal medal been bestowed to date? Some ideas follow, further below. Ms. Fältskog's desire for privacy may be a concern.

Many ABBA/Agnetha fans can offer reasons why she should receive serious consideration for an award. (You knowledgeable ones receive a gold star of your own and can probably skip this section.) A few obvious ones: 1) Her pure, brilliant singing voice alone should make her something of a "national treasure". (My opinion, but shared by many. Here, also.) I'm likely being naive, but Ms. Fältskog is so well-known and regarded via her voice worldwide, that (I'm bold enough to suggest that) perhaps she should (alternatively?) be considered for Sweden's Hovsångerska title.(Usually reserved for opera singers.) Both of ABBA's accomplished singers perhaps should be....   2) Her voice (plus, as noted several times here, her appearance, stage presence, etc.) helped sell over 350 million records for Swedish supergroup ABBA, worldwide. (All record sales figures are estimates, by record companies.) To many (not all), Agnetha was ABBA's primary "focal point". A pop music icon, though she did not seek that status. 3) As a solo artist since ABBA, she has sold millions of her recordings. (E.g., 1983's "Can't Shake Loose" (single), RIAA "Gold" certification. The Agnetha.net website (Bio section) puts song copy sales at 2 million +.) 4) In 1975, Agnetha co-produced and wrote most of the songs for a fine, solo studio album (in Swedish): Elva Kvinnor I ett Hus, Cupol CLPS 351, released December 1975.(Title translates to 'Eleven Women in One House (or Building)'. Bonus: View some fan/experts' rankings of this album's songs, here (link).  5) As a solo artist prior to ABBA, and even occasionally during her ABBA years, Ms. Fältskog (often) performed (in) local concerts or shows (e.g., annual "folk park circuit"), etc. throughout Stockholm/Sweden. (Note: Please refer to years 1972 or earlier via the excellent "ABBA Annual" link.) She also was a successful teenage singer in Sweden, prior to ABBA. She also starred as "Mary Magdalene" in the original Swedish production of the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar". (YT link to a distinct (and beautiful) performance...) 6) As noted previously in this blog, ABBA and Agnetha continue to be popular today via You Tube, worldwide. (I haven't even talked about the ABBA-inspired, successful musical, Mamma Mia!.) One of a number, this unofficial fan-created web site illustrates Agnetha's enduring popularity: http://www.divasthesite.com/Singing_Divas/Vox_Populi/vox_populi_Agnetha_Faltskog_1.htm 7) From what I know, Ms. Fältskog is a Swedish citizen in good standing; born, raised, and still residing there. AND, has likely been a "mega"-taxpayer in the Swedish system. 8) For ABBA and its members, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame beckons. I firmly believe that this overdue international recognition is coming in 2010. 9) Agnetha's got a (Note: volume is high on the clip) "secret" sense of humor.... (OK, I added that as a "medal qualification" ...And the sense of humor is not really a secret; here is a forum 'thread' devoted to it (link): http://www.iphpbb.com/board/ftopic-30652567nx61610-9485.html ) Update: 9a) Some of Agnetha's vocal 'antics' in certain solo appearances (link to one impressive example, new window), a few songs with ABBA, and the solo song mentioned in the next point; show a decided sense of humor with displaying (indulging) various vocal abilities. Although much is owed to this song's production, just one ABBA example: After enjoying Frida's appealing lead listen to the following song again (link), for Agnetha's intertwined, high (background) harmonies...
10) She did "Golliwog". (jk, again.)


Obviously, I could go on further about this, offer more reasons, etc. (Mercifully will not.) But this isn't a campaign. I doubt that H.M The King accepts "write-in votes" for potential medal recipients. It's likely considered rude to even ask....

Regardless...Examples seem to be many for Ms. Fältskog, supporting the stated qualification of "outstanding service to the arts, especially music...(etc.)". Other popular singers in Sweden have been awarded this medal. As noted, we don't know all of the criteria. Perhaps it's "not such a big deal" in Sweden. Perhaps it's believed that ABBA members have received enough (money, rewards, etc.) Equal time: Here's a link to another point of view about awards for ABBA members: http://www.abbaplaza.com/site-en/columns.asp?ColumnId=45.

Agnetha Fältskog - I Won't Be Leaving You

© 2010-11 (original portions)

Please have a couple of listens to the following song, from the uneven but underrated Eyes of a Woman album by Agnetha Fältskog. (Pronounced 'ahn-EH-tah'.)

To get "out of the way" a minor element (upfront): FWIW, this newer listener isn't totally enamored with the singer's use of her falsetto voice at moments on "I Won't Be Leaving You"'s (recorded) background/backing vocals. I.e., sometimes it "works", sometimes it distracts/detracts....

However.... the main vocal in this tender ballad illustrates what the pop soprano (?) could do with expression; with feeling. Agnetha's inherently bright voice may render it subtle at first; but the longing and the "want" she is able to impart here: She's right up in your ear with it - particularly in higher-fidelity recordings. (Who wouldn't like to imagine that... ?) If you listen, you can feel the aching yearning at times, especially as the song moves along. (And despite a 'clunky' lyric line or two...) It's real. Exposed. Perhaps singing with someone in mind or even some past experience.

"I want you....I need you", from the refrain: She makes you believe it - whoever Ms. Fältskog is singing about....or to. You feel it, along with her. And it's sexy and intimate (amongst other sensations it invokes). Sung sultry-sweet and with absolute clarity as always; characteristic of the talented vocalist.


...An outstanding singer, especially for sadder/longing ballads (such as this). A signature solo song for the artist, I believe. (She has (at least) a couple of them. And BTW: By "signature", I mean distinguishing. Displays key aspects or features of this particular singer.) :

Link to HQ YT video/sound (currently available). This is the better sound quality YT presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9EcdYZIZko&fmt=18

2010 update: Bad news for YouTube viewers/Agnetha fans...The music videos (formerly above) have been removed from YT (United States) apparently by giant UMG. (Update: At least that is the (removal) message that appeared on YouTube initially...Original message:" This video contains content from UMG. It is not available in your country.") A shame that the solo artist plus this representative song lose that exposure here. (FWIW: A link to Amazon's current offering of the Eyes of a Woman album is here. The song is also included on Agnetha's 2008 compilation, My Very Best.

2011 update: It's back...at least 'for the moment' via YouTube. Thanks to 'MegaABBAgirl' for posting. (Link to the song (new window). Note: Volume is high...) 2013: A better-(HQ) quality YT version is here (new window opens): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waPJsjgjB4k

(Continuing previously written text:) Whatever you believe about the merit of some songs Agnetha  chose to record as a solo artist, her voice does not disappoint.

Added note: I'm guessing that renowned session musician Lasse Wellander is the source of the brief guitar solo in this song just after the four minute mark. (Corrections welcome. E.g., could it have been another ABBA guitarist, Janne Schaffer? ) Like all of ABBA's regular, backing musicians: Sehr proficient and too often overlooked....

Additional observation: I wonder why the singer pronounced the key (title) line in this song so it sounded a lot like "I won't believe in you"...? Perhaps Agnetha is singing "I won't be leavin' you" (i.e., droppin' the 'g') and attempted a little play on the words with the phrase. But this did not really jibe with the meaning of the lyrics. (Unless I'm just not "getting it".)  


Link to my full blog: http://star4abba.blogspot.com/

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Angels in Disguise: ABBA's 'That's Me'

"Retro discovery": A "new" ABBA promo video. Uhh, new for me, that is....I much-belatedly started listening to this legendary pop band only a few months ago. (A link to the well-sung 1970's video is near the end of this post. We're taking a short break from "Agnetha solo", here...)

As noted on several occasions here both ABBA front singers Agnetha [aŋˈneːta] Fältskog and Frida Lyngstad were good actresses in their early, song-promoting film clips. Even knowing this, it seems to me that both are especially enjoying presenting 1976's "That's Me". (The surprisingly intriguing "B-side" for mega-hit "Dancing Queen".)

(Dancing. Old image freely available from LIFE photo archives)

ABBA guiding force, manager Stig Anderson could be candid when giving interviews about his charges. E.g., in this (well-done) ABC News "20/20" segment from 1979, he provides Pierre Salinger with quick but quite revealing "capsules" of the supergroup's four stars. (Also ref.: Carl Magnus Palm's "Bright Lights, Dark Shadows".)

Closely-involved Stig nonchalantly describes both ABBA ladies as having "temperaments". (But also softens this with other observations.) And I believe that this was likely true to a degree. The sometimes volatile nature of the women's relationships (before, during, and after ABBA) may (further) bear this out. Both (apparently) were strongly individual, with perhaps a little vulnerability at times.

(I'm speculating a bit, but if Björn Ulvaeus wrote this song's lyrics (as he usually did for ABBA by mid-1976), he was increasingly writing from personal experience/relationship experience. See pages 285 and 294 in Carl Magnus Palm's 2001 ABBA biography for additional background information.)

"That's Me"'s promo seems a rather quick "knock-off", incorporating clips from other ABBA vids., etc. But the videogenic women and their expressions make it quite watchable
. (Shot in tight close-up: You have to be an attractive person to pull that off....)) The ladies - posed sister-close - are enjoying this song; looking nice, singing in their sultry/sweet voices .... (*cough*) about (perhaps) some (personal?) high-maintenance qualities. (As we're forewarned in the song's opening lines.) Almost looks like they're keeping back a laugh every now and then (as they mime the song). It's good acting -- perhaps in part because some of the words were meaningful (for the two). Both ladies (are able to)  "reach through the screen" on this one:

Check out the whimsical looks as they sing "That's me, you see" around the song's middle section. Were these ladies "diva-like"? At times, I'll bet.
(Ms. Fältskog eventually named one of her greatest hits (solo) compilations with the same title. This song is said to be one of her favorites. 11/09 update: Confirmed as one of Agnetha's favorite songs (ABBA); per page 133 in the "As I Am" biography.) Knowing some of the group's backstories it's hard not to smile a bit watching their (seemingly) tongue-in-cheek performance (at moments) here.


Anyway, another underrated pop song from the group/artists. It's humorously done but to some extent expresses a contemporary attitude.

"Angels in disguise". Who knows; perhaps in this man's world they are.... Both definitely could sing like it.  "That's Me"'s in-unison singing, quickly followed by the two voices wonderful harmonies:
It is "(ABBA) vocal magic" on display...  Two modern-day 'sirens'. (Link is to word definition; meaning #2 -- but part of def. #1, also....)
  2014 update: Love the coincidental (lyrics) reference: "I believe in angels...", in a snippet of the two (snowy) ABBA beauties at the 0:48 mark of this cool, official video (link, new window).

(Continuing:) -> More: Watching the video performance several times: Though seemingly a fairly "routine" (for ABBA) effort, taken as a whole -- song, singing, (certain) lyrics, video presentation, ladies' performances (video and in-unison singing) -- I think it shows multifaceted greatness (from this group). And, it's also somehow (rather) intensely personal to/for viewers. (For the time period. Again; the womens' acting has something to do with this.)

A few selected lyrics from "That's Me" are at the end of this entry.



The YT video (at last):

Link to this video (functioning as of 2009): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mP_dk429rbc&fmt=18


Bonus: For a more complete perspective from the two ladies (in general), please re-visit this 2009 "Aftonbladet" interview: http://www.aftonbladet.se/nojesbladet/article4248848.ab
And, if you're in to "retro-competitions" with these two here's a poll for you (link).

(Oh...And let's hope that the tune's "Carrie" reference wasn't somehow to Brian DePalma's (late) 1976 movie "carrying" the same name. That is unlikely, however: Both the (detailed) "ABBA Annual" site and Wikipedia show "That's Me" recorded/released in 1976 (August), as a 'B' side. It was then later released as a single in Japan in 1977.)

Selected lyrics, "That's Me". Artist: ABBA:

"Are you sure you wanna hear more
What if I ain't worth the while
Not the style you'd be lookin' for
If I'm sweet tonight
Things look different in the morning light
I'm jealous and I'm proud
If you hurt my feelings I'll cry out loud
I'm Carrie not-the-kind-of-girl-you'd-marry
That's me

Are you sure you wanna hear more
Would I be the one you seek
Mild and meek like the girl next door
Don't you realise
I may be an angel in disguise
It's lonely to be free
But I'm not a man's toy, I'll never be
I'm Carrie not-the-kind-of-girl-you'd-marry
That's me "

(etc.)

Added 'bonus': The following linked performance (currently) available on YouTube is of a different ABBA song. It is included to help (further) demonstrate three things: 1) How absolutely beautiful both ABBA's singers were in their prime performing years. (E.g., It is not that 'easy' (for most) to look that great in bright sunshine...) In more than one way the two together (still) have no equal (duo) in popular music. ABBA (as an entity) was indeed smart and fortunate to attract and (further) develop such talent. Singing sirens.... 2) ABBA showed prescience to film song promo videos or actual (television) programs such as this one (in part), years prior to MTV. Though likely not a primary aim at the time, new generations are able to "discover" the supergroup from its peak years via such films. These are going to be viewed/re-viewed for a long, long time to come.... (Thanks again to '2Shaymcn' for editing/posting it - please mind your (headphones) volume.)
3) Did I mention that the ABBA ladies were very beautiful?? (Check out a couple of the viewer comments on the actual YT video...) Anyway...the two are posed/acting for the video here, but I think it's pretty clear that they got along OK...
('Subjective' 3a.) Frida's most becoming hairstyle of any video (I've located)...Except this one (link), also.)

Enjoy. It's 'old-time' now, but there's still nothing quite like these two: (link) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyGmvfJiJ-4
 


Yet another worthwhile look back: 'Deep link' (click) to part of a beautiful, YouTube photo/music tribute to ABBA, by 'nickless1980'. Of the many excellent photos displayed, the too-brief (candid) moment at the 6:22-23 mark picturing young and joyful ABBA ladies together - as Dune's outstanding "One Of Us" closes out - is bittersweet. Poignant now...as is much of this video collage- plus-music.




(Image source: Getty Images. Non-commercial usage. No ownership/endorsements expressed or implied.)

Link to my full blog: http://star4abba.blogspot.com/

A mini-review of 'I Stand Alone' (Agnetha Fältskog, 1987)

© 2009-2014 (original sections). (Please request permission to copy via email address, bottom of the page.)

FWIW, I put together a quick, listener's "retro-review" of Agnetha Fältskog's solo album, I Stand Alone. (Pronounced [aŋˈneːta]. A short, funny video (link) has a pronunciation for us at the end.) This review is focused mainly upon Ms.Fältskog's voice and her singing - the primary features many listen for in solo efforts by the artist.

The review was partially posted at another site. Here is that attempt in it's entirety. (Now slightly updated; 2012.):

""Easy listenening Agnetha" = 3.75 stars (Four+ stars (of five) for Agnetha fans.) (Especially for those who - as I do - believe that age 'thirtysomething' Agnetha's feminine voice is one of the most pleasing and distinct (on record) in the last few decades (popular music). What follows is - of course - an opinion. It's not objective....):
 
If you're here you likely know that Ms. F
ältskog is the blonde, former front singer from 'super-group' ABBA. And perhaps also, that her singing voice is a crystal-clear wonder. As noted, that pure and sweet-sounding voice alone "earns" stars from me for any of her post-ABBA solo efforts.

I Stand Alone is 1980's easy listening; the type of album that you can have on your headphones while you go ahead and do something else. There's not much happening that you'd call riveting, but Agnetha's shiny voice is pleasant throughout; a nice back-track to almost anything. In truth, when Ms. Fältskog invokes her early idols (e.g., Connie Francis), packing her voice with plaintiveness, emotion - even angst; it's the artist at her most affecting. (Ref.: ABBA's "Hasta Manana", "SOS", "The Winner Takes It All".) There's relatively little of that to be found here. This is smoother, easy-listening Agnetha.

With Ms. F
ältskog, co-producers Peter Cetera and Bruce Gaitsch chose songs/arrangements that settled the artist into nice, relaxed vocal channels. I Stand Alone also seems slickly produced and has better overall sound quality than Agnetha's first post-ABBA solo outing, Wrap Your Arms Around Me. A nice touch: The singer's lovely, fading-in background notes setting the mood to open the record. (Track 1,"The Last Time".) And Agnetha's charming (tinge of an) accent adds a bit of spice from the beginning and throughout. (Though I also seem to detect a slight lisp at times that I never heard before or since.) Like Agnetha's clear-but-nuanced, feminine voice (as perceived by some), this album effort earns greater appreciation upon closer listening.

No (worldwide) hits sprang from the sparely-promoted work, but the first several songs (especially) are eminently listenable: E.g., Both Ms. Faltskog and Peter Cetera (can) have dramatic voices, but their duet "I Wasn't the One" doesn't have much spark for some reason; though it's still very enjoyable. (Mr. Cetera somewhat dominates it.) Agnetha's best singing moment this time around occurs near the end of pensive "Maybe It Was Magic" (after the booming drum bit), when American country artist Juice Newton seems fleetingly invoked. (Much more about this song, here.) Last song, "If You Need Somebody Tonight", is done nicely also. (Crystal-clear, yet intimate. Update: The high-fidelity recording allows us to hear the professional singer's breathing at moments (in the song.) Intriguing.... She "sighs out" (of)/has breath left over for the (short) line ending with the word "strong". Her sweet, high-voice finish (second-to-last line) is enchanting. A feeling, "Agnetha song"....)

"Love In A World Gone Mad" is sweetly sung (a voice like honey,actually) and has some "catchy-ness" to it. "Little White Secrets" is similar, and features some appealing, longing lyrics; an interpretive sweet spot for the usually-expressive singer. (Update: The song (however) is gifted with a gorgeous and powerful "close-out" by the singer (starting with the "burning dreams" line) - an example of 1980's Agnetha at her best. ( Especially evident on better-fidelity recordings.
A singer adept at (seemingly) "getting personal" with the listener via her voice, at moments. More here (link - future post).) Speaking of best, Ms. Fältskog is never more smooth than on "Let It Shine", a comparatively bright song for her. It's perfectly delivered. And though we learn that she's not Pat Benatar, I appreciate her nice attempt at a bit of a "rocker" with "We Got A Way". The world's clearest/sweetest-voiced rocker on this one, perhaps. (Updated note: As with a few of her other solo songs, the bright-voiced singer seems to 'warm-up" to this song as it moves along. A little tentative at its beginning...)  
It might again just be me but I (also) find the title track's execution a bit curious: The refrain's beginning, independent-woman lyrics are sung with conviction (possibly employing the backing vocalists?). But the "punch line" (i.e., "I stand alone") is (then) delivered by Ms. Fältskog in a girlish, almost meek-sounding voice at times. Perhaps a little quirk....

Wrap: Overall, I'm confident that your own favorites can be found here, if you enjoy a nice voice in a generally laid-back, easy listening format.

What is pleasant? Agnetha's almost serene outing on I Stand Alone. "


Updated blog note: The Agnetha.net website (Bio section) places sales of this album in the neighborhood of 2 million copies. (Unverified.)  Also: Here's a very good effort featuring insightful reviews of all of Ms. Fältskog's solo music (link): http://felpin80.tripod.com/ata/annasolo.html

Updated note: One song not mentioned above is "Are You Gonna Throw It All Away" (song no. 9 on the album). An example - for me - of how an Agnetha effort can "grow" upon a listener over time. For some reason this song doesn't really grab the listener, but Agnetha's sweet and feminine higher voice is appealing, upon further review. But perhaps her higher-voiced efforts are often better used as accent - or as a pleasant "surprise". (Pls. ref. the ending of the last song on this album.) It may be "sweetness overload" within this particular song. So much so that it becomes bland or too much of the same thing, as the singer spends much time using that area of her voice. However, to me it is still impressive how the singer alternates between her "higher voice" and "lower voice" on sections of "...Throw It All Away". 
As with all prolific artists not every effort is going to be a triumph. Still, for some reason it is easy to overlook nuances mentioned above upon the first couple of listens....
It is amazing what Agnetha could do with that rangy and super-sweet voice, when one considers it.

And a YT "find" for real fans: Go waaay behind the scenes of the making of I Stand Alone with Peter Cetera and Agnetha! Thanks to 'Ljus85' for posting this rare video, which may have been a WEA record company "thing". It's bad quality, but you can get the idea. Gotta love the basketball-playing Agnetha....Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kT4NssGwQY&feature=related 

And also: From the 'ABBA: The Articles' website, read a piece where Agnetha talks a bit about the I Stand Alone album. (Link to the article. I'd bet that Ms. Fältskog did not appreciate the (unfavorable) headline that was written for it... )

Bonus: Link (below) to a well-done interview on You Tube from 1987 (in Swedish, with subtitles). This beautiful singer definitely does have charisma as is noted at the end. But as usual, she was guarded (or modest) about examining personal qualities, even positive ones. A pleasant chat though, and a good inquiry from the engaging interviewer about Agnetha being on stage and her feelings toward connecting with her public. (Interesting re the (international) career though: She then proceeded to "shut it down" for nearly 17 years shortly after this album and her promo interviews....)
 

Excellent You Tube-er comment here: "...her voice is a cure...." Hope this video stays posted: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3qWivlHBpE




Blog Note: This blog entry is backdated to better fit within the order of posts here. It's actual creation date is 8/15/09.
Link to my full blog: http://star4abba.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Agnetha's best voice: One Way Love

© 2009-2011 (original sections)

  "...her voice is a cure..." YouTube commenter 'golliwog14', re singer Agnetha Fältskog.

(Updated note: The published comments at the end of this post are valuable for - and (I believe) improve upon - the discussion (that follows).)

Picking up on a suggestion (I made) from the adjacent post here, "The Best Post-ABBA Song for Ms. Fältskog":
(Reader note: Interesting, (slightly) "technical" music details are going to follow. It is a fairly lengthy entry, but few have explored this area....Updated note: This author - Christopher Patrick - has explored ABBA music and their vocalists' abilities in enlightening detail (link to more info.).) And another, useful update: The excellent 'abba4ever' forum has a couple of older topics re Agnetha's voice that I wasn't aware of when originally writing this post. They're worth a look. Links (new windows) are here and here.

From listening to many of her efforts, I suggest that (much of) 1985's "One Way Love" is near-center in (adult) Agnetha Fältskog's vocal "comfort zone".(Pronounced [aŋˈneːta]. A short, funny video is here.) I.e., her vocal tessitura, as I understand the term. ("One Way Love's" YouTube video is embedded further below. This post ignores its just-OK video presentation.)
I'll say more about this impression (re the (main) voice utilized in 'One Way Love') further below...
Quick 2013 update: I (the writer) no longer agree with statements just above. Upon listening much more to Agnetha, I now suspect that her voice as used in "One Way Love" may be closer to MY 'comfort zone', vs. hers.  I.e., my own preference(s) may have colored perception here. Agnetha's voice/range in that song seem more what I prefer from her capabilities....
I'll let what follows stand, though. (Some of the analysis/insights may be worthwhile for fans.)

(Continuing, previously written:) Prefacing some of the text that follows, it should be noted that this singer's "zone" may have had (at least) a couple of segments. (Or sub-divisions.) And, to be fair: Her super-sweet voice quality - more apparent in other songs - gives the "One Way Love" "paradigm" serious competition. One decent example of this (sweet) quality is included here (new window opens). Another is linked here. And another (in Swedish.)  And a pleasing, high-register example, here.  (Such wide ability (versatility) is what helps make the pop singer an appealing one, IMO. (Plus there's another whole discussion (- we won't go there, here -) about how ably Ms.Fältskog could shift between a softer, warmer, (often-sweet), more intimate singing style (or voice) and her clear, (often-sweet), ringing (even piercing with the higher voice) louder efforts. (One "forte" (music def.), solo example is linked here (particularly the refrain). 1983's "Shame", perhaps another. "One Way Love" (below) is another louder effort, though not (comparatively) "super-sweet-voiced"....BTW, most of Agnetha's 1987 I Stand Alone album is performed with a (relatively) more subdued, smoother singing style (as an example of that).))   We don't have time/space here, but there is also Ms.Fältskog's unusual ability to sound plaintive - even wailing - in certain efforts. One example: The refrain from this excellent, in-Swedish song from 1975. (link (new window))
 Note: All songs linked here sound better on hi-fidelity recordings. BTW, equal time: Some definitely don't seem to agree (with my own assessments): link, new window: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3615466/Stayingin.html)

2012 insert/update: Interested readers are welcome to continue as I 'box around' some ideas about Ms.Fältskog's special voice, below.  However, here is a current link to a YT video which identifies a range of notes achieved by the singer over time, via scientific pitch notation. (Link to video, new window opens.) I think it is a very good effort, demonstrating a good portion of what follows (below, and in the comments here). As time permits I'll try to verify the notes ID'd in the video on a piano. My guess is that they are accurate. Although I'll take one more moment to add that the 'A7' scream ID'd around the 4:35 mark (video) is (to my ears) just that: A scream, vs. a music note.....(As also mentioned in the YT video's comments... the 'B7' note included is probably an instrument.)

(Continuing previously written text:) And also to preface, please be aware that this (American) writer is more familiar with Ms.Fältskog's English solo work. It is worth a listen to explore a few of her Swedish-language songs, via a post here (link). The artist's recent compilation album, "My Very Best" (link) contains 18 top songs in her native language. Also please note that what follows is mainly about the singer's voice and how it is used. Not "One Way Love"'s merit as a song (plus other ones mentioned below), melody, video presentation, meanings of lyrics, etc...

The strong, lower-range "One Way Love" is an example of why I sometimes questioned whether Agnetha's voice type could be "classified" as" "soprano". Versus the often more rangy and versatile mezzo-soprano type. In ABBA, Ms.Fältskog usually sang the higher-voiced parts, but could also sometimes match with her partner, rich "mezzo" Anni-Frid Lyngstad. One probable reason (of several) that the two meshed so well together. (Frida could also "sing high" when necessary. Pls. see reader comment, end of post. And also, superb analysis/examples (re Frida singing high), pp.142-43 of Mr. Patrick's book.) Updated note: In 1996's biography As I Am, co-author Brita Ahman describes Agnetha as having "...a very wide register and range." (Page 127.) A confirmation of that statement follows:

(Updated) analysis: Without the song's sheet music, I "pulled out" my trusty, flash (virtual) piano keyboard. Matching Agnetha's sung word "down" at the 35-36 second mark of the "One Way Love" YT video, the keyboard rang the A note that is two keys below (to the left of) middle C. (A/k/a C4, in scientific pitch notation.) Per Wikipedia, this is outside (i.e., slightly lower) than what's considered to be the common vocal range for a (classical) soprano. (Which generally begins at middle C.)

Even with this information, I'd guess that Agnetha is (was) primarily a (non-classical music) soprano. (Per the following examples.) But with a musically useful range that extends below the common classification. Important to note (for this discussion): "There is currently no authoritative voice classification system within non-classical music."  But, we will continue on here, understanding the limitations. (Perhaps this is one reason why I had difficulty guessing what voice "classification" Agnetha might have best approximated (per above). Plus, as noted in the linked article, technical enhancements (to voice, etc.) are often used (in popular music).)
   
(Continuing:) There is more: A different example, for her high voice: (And switching over to look at a couple of ABBA songs, briefly.) No sheet music again, but in the beautiful, higher-voiced "The Winner Takes It All", my virtual keyboard matches a few of Agnetha's quick higher notes as B's (B5's), one piano key below "high C". (A/k/a C6 in scientific pitch notation, two octaves above C4.) However, I think she goes higher than that at least once in that song. The word "takes", in "the winner takes it all"(late in the piece) -- could be the C# (C sharp) just above "high C"... -- per my amateur analysis. (Please keep "amateur" in mind.  I'm estimating....Listen to Benny Andersson's piano at the song's end, for some of the notes that  Ms.Fältskog hit.)  10/09 update: I found free piano sheet music for "Winner..." (At the same site as linked, below.) The vocal melody as written (at its highest notes) features many B -, C - and even D-notes -- all "flatted". (E.g., D-flat, which I believe is the same as C#.) They are written at one octave above "middle C" (treble clef). The question is "where" Agnetha is singing these written notes. It sounds to me (via my virtual piano keyboard) that she is (of course) singing the correct notes, but actually at two octaves above middle C. (Not surprising (at this point); she's a good (pop) soprano....) But.... that is just my amateur analysis. And, a quick, March, 2010 update: I continue to evaluate these statements in light of Mr. Patrick's professional analysis. Per page 290-91 of his book (link above), it appears that I have correctly identified the notes involved (above), as written. Where is Agnetha singing them? Mr. Patrick describes her as "confidently commanding a range of an 11th over two octaves", in the "two vocal phrases (statements) that comprise the song". (One of these includes the "the winner takes it all" phrase.) I'm not musically-knowledgeable enough (yet) to completely understand his terminology, precisely. He may simply mean that she goes through a series of eleven notes which span two octaves in these phrases. I'll continue reading his book for more clues. My ear - and virtual piano - still "tell" me that Agnetha's vocal (in this part of the song) is two octaves (sixteen notes) above "middle C", at points...
2011 updated note: Expert Christopher Patrick categorizes Agnetha Fältskog as a soprano, her partner Frida as a mezzo on page 141 of his definitive work. That's good enough for me...and perhaps most (remaining) readers (here) as well. Much easier for qualified Mr. Patrick, I'm sure; but I had to "box it around" and figure it out the hard way....

A quick aside: Please take a few minutes to visit the following song review of "Winner..." from 1980 by critic Tom Ewing.  Please right-click on the link. http://freakytrigger.co.uk/ft/2008/11/abba-the-winner-takes-it-all/

(This image has been released into the public domain by its author, WarX. This applies worldwide.)

Even more. Re Ms. Fältskog's low voice: In ABBA's "Dancing Queen", the (sung) word "king", in the line "...look for a king", plays as the F# note on my keyboard, that's located three and one-half keys below middle C. (The word "dance" somewhat later, also.) In recordings, I believe I can hear Agnetha following mezzo partner Frida down to this low note. If so, that's pretty amazing to me. (Frida leads (here), but I definitely think I can still hear Agnetha's crisper voice also on the lowest note(s). Update: On page 80 of his book (below), Mr. Patrick also (independently) uses "crisp" to describe Agnetha's sound quality contribution (on a different song).)
Update: I located a site (link at own risk) with free piano/vocal sheet music for 'Dancing Queen'. The note in question (i.e., sung word "king") appears to in fact be an F-sharp, in both the bass and treble clefs. The question is whether Agnetha is actually singing the F# with Frida. (BTW, I have no separate vocalist scores if there were any.)  It certainly sounds to me like she is singing low(er) with Frida.
March, 2010 update: At first read of C. Patrick's detailed 2008 book, ABBA: Let The Music Speak, the author notes that the two ABBA singers "sound as one voice" (in this song, page 31), though they are an octave apart - in the song's refrain (emphasis added). I'm still reading the book to discover whether Mr. Patrick finds that Agnetha actually matches Frida on the low notes (not in the refrain) mentioned above....Another update: Impression at least partly confirmed. Page 226 of Mr. Patrick's book contains a partial vocal score for "Dancing Queen". The low notes in the brief passages in question (above) are scored as: A single E note (five whole note piano keys below middle C), followed by several F-sharps (three and one-half keys below),including the sustained F# on sung words "king", "dance", etc. Also: Mr. Patrick illustrates (pages 226-7) that, through verse #2 (includes low F# (on "dance")) and following chorus, ABBA's wonderful singers "...have in fact presided over a vocal range spanning three octaves from verse start to chorus end...However (conclusion to this section) : It's still a question whether Agnetha is exactly "on" the low, sustained note(s) (in "DQ") with Frida. It seems that she is very close; but perhaps slightly higher....? If interested pls. watch and listen to this YouTube clip showing ABBA rehearsal of an unused (or "lost") verse from "DQ". I had to listen several times to finally discern that Agnetha may in fact be singing (the notes) slightly higher than mezzo Frida. One more factor to consider: These two voices have somewhat different timbre(s) (i.e., 'tone'); one reason they can (sometimes) sound slightly different (with close listening) even when singing the same note.

What is (further) confirmed here is that these were two special pop voices, especially together. Amazing in-unison singers. (That it is sometimes difficult to discern between the voices is proof of that. And BTW: Sultry voices by the ladies (as well) in the rehearsal video of the song ("D.Q.")....)

CORRECTION re the following paragraph: Upon review, based upon the 10/24/11 comment below, I believe that I likely picked up the wrong notes via the piano here...Re-playing them, Agnetha's higher notes (in the backgound) in fact sound like F#'s below high C, not above...  (Original text:) Amazingly more: I think rangy Agnetha "helps" (also rangy) Frida with a couple more low F-sharps in "If It Wasn't For The Nights", though Frida magnificently leads the way in those portions. BTW, my virtual keyboard also tracks Agnetha (again) above "high C" in this same song. I don't know, but noticeable in this recorded/mimed version of ..."Nights" (link); Agnetha could be well above, in (parts of) her (recorded) high-voice harmonies. (Per the virt. piano keyboard: The F# above "high C" ?!? Check the recording/video at the 25 second mark, and again at about 2:17.)  If accurate of course, this puts Ms.Fältskog both (well?) below and above common soprano range, within the same recording. (Possibly from the F# below middle C (:19, :37 second mark (etc.) in the video) to the F# above high C (in background harmony, noted).) What do I know....maybe this occurred more than I realize. This is a good "show-off" song, for both vocalists. (Though admittedly a bit shrill-sounding in the chorus....)

(CORRECTED section:) - Incredibly more: As expertly noted by Christopher Patrick in his detailed 2008 book ABBA: Let The Music Speak, just how high could pop soprano Agnetha Faltskog reach with her voice? Try the very last sung or (mostly)"screamed" word "tiger" at the 2:47-2:48 mark of the linked YT video for ABBA's "Tiger"...  (Ref. page 37.) Employing the virtual piano keyboard again, a guess is that she briefly reaches the D# above "high C".  Link to the music video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znB8OlFgCSM&fmt=18

Enough.. I won't analyze this ad nauseum - further - as I don't know enough. (More, here.) Back to the original topic that started the post: Have a listen to this outstanding pop singer let it go a bit, with no "pinching" or compression that occasionally was present when she "went up" significantly higher. Perhaps the higher voice required more effort. (Note: She sometimes used her falsetto voice intentionally on certain solo efforts.) And, BTW: Notice that Agnetha (apparently) recorded at least two different voice lines (harmony) in "One Way Love." A beautiful job with the higher harmony....

Every note sung "bang on",as usual (I.e., no sliding. See page 120 in Mr. Palm's biography). Good quality. Good volume Power and control....
At times, she manages to sound like her idol Connie Francis (probably a mezzo) and I think even Lesley Gore at the beginning here. And sung  "Agnetha"-clear, as always. Enjoy:



 (2012 UPDATE: Link to a higher-quality video performance (of this song) now on You Tube. Worth a visit for the sound improvement, plus beautiful, thirty-something Agnetha... doing some excellent lip-synching. (In camera close-up at moments.1985: A vintage year for public-performing, solo Agnetha...)  
Thanks again to YouTube's '2Shaymcn' for producing this video. (New window opens.): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wHzRByGvD8&fmt=18)

For fans, it's tantalizing to think whether Agnetha's  voice -- perhaps especially her good lower range -- is still clear and strong today....

Solo Agnetha: The best post-ABBA song? Many. (Updated)

© 2009-2014 (Original portions and updated sections, 2010-14.)

FYI: This listener's Agnetha (solo) "top ten" song list may be found at the end of this lengthy post...
Click here if you wish to 'jump' to the newer, more comprehensive list now. (Strongly recommended. The 'jump-to' section (page bottom) also includes some 2013 updates...))

(Previously written text:) Who can really say? Best song can mean a few things, including the one or two (or several?) that Agnetha [aŋˈneːta]  Fältskog herself was most proud. And/or ones that perhaps meant the most to her. (I think there's intersection between those two groups.) And especially, one that made good use of that pure, rangy, plaintive voice.

As will be apparent: For me, it's mainly about the voice. The Swedish singer is rightfully proud of it. And Ms. Fältskog may modulate or soften as appropriate but usually does not "hold back" when singing. Though she often doesn't "let it go to her max" (as sometimes "pushed" in ABBA (pgs. 262-63), it's still out there for us -- more understandingly planned (range) and produced.

(Blog note: A recently updated section here.) In her later English solo albums there perhaps is no "ABBA-style" catchy hit single, to the disappointment of some critics. And there may be a few questionable song choices that probably shouldn't have been recorded. Some productions are sub-par, or marred by '80's excesses. For fans of her pristine voice however, there's still much to enjoy. Per below, she often sounds good regardless of what she's singing. Overall, I feel that solo Agnetha was able to relax a bit, try new things, display her "lower voice" at times, etc. (Update: Impression partly confirmed, via this 1983 interview (link) with Ms. Fältskog.) Elaborating: To this listener, at times the performer's singing seems a bit "overdone" in some ABBA songs; either pushed to limits and/or technically modified. (Sometimes a clarion-like presence (but usually in a bright and appealing way) in a number of ABBA songs. 'Team-member' Agnetha marvelously performed the (vocal) role of dramatic accent/high harmonies provider in numerous songs...)) For me however, though notable exceptions (with ABBA) certainly exist, her natural, adaptable, feminine voice regularly seems generally better slotted in the (subsequent) solo English albums.  

(Yes, it's worth saying again: Agnetha's background vocals and harmony work in ABBA is stellar. Just one quick sample of many: Ms. Fältskog leads in parts of this (linked) song (even seemingly mimicking a bugle with her voice) , but her recorded, varying background harmonies are beautiful as well (link):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWVB0LcR_3Q&fmt=18 .) Further note: I am not knowledgeable re her Swedish solo efforts, though I am 'getting there'. Here is a quick "nod" to that considerable body of work (link) http://star4abba.blogspot.com/2009/06/agnetha-selected-songs-in-swedish.html . Excellent efforts in her native language....Recent update: For very big fans of Agnetha's special voice, the 1996 compilation My Love, My Life is likely a worthwhile investment. Even if you do not understand Swedish. (Many of Agnetha's earlier, pre-ABBA/early ABBA-period solo songs are included.) Here is a brief review from a (more) knowledgeable source (link).

Since we can't ask the artist herself, a few opinion-driven (and much-belated) selections follow; mini-reviews included. It's a long post, but the singer is worth a/another listen. (Links here are in light blue.) Please see if you agree with some of the choices. My own subjective "rankings" are at the bottom of the postAlso, if you'd prefer to see/hear Agnetha demonstrate her abilities "right now", please try the unofficial You Tube playlist which follows. As of this writing, some of her best solo efforts are included within various tribute videos:
(Link): http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=F1E367911859E577

AND, please  review "Johnny's list" (of Agnetha solo songs) linked at the bottom of this post. From a complete Agnetha fan/expert....Update: Plus, some 'top ten' Agnetha solo song lists (incl. Swedish songs) from (other) fan/experts at abba4ever.com (link).

Continuing on: Right off the bat, I don't have enough "information". Ms. Fältskog has released something like 13 Swedish or English albums (Music section), after ABBA. As a parochial American, I haven't listened to most (yet!). (Therefore, this post's subject will be updated as necessary.) Agnetha.net's (web site) 'Bio' section doesn't give much clue as to any one song that the artist herself thought as special. So, since it's my blog, I'll toss out a few possibilities. Please forward comments with your own ideas, if you'd like to. (Links to current You Tube versions of many songs are included below, but note; some YT links have been removed for licensing/copyright issues. Please right-click on links for a new window.)) Her recently released compilation album, My Very Best may also be somewhat helpful (photo is a link to the album (right-click)) :

Image source (link)
From her 2004 interview with Lasse Bengtsson, she listened to part of this song and commented "It's good." And it certainly is. (Headphones suggested.) Here's part of one very recent comment on a You Tube version of "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind": "The most beautiful female voice on earth!" -- from 'masorlie'

A pretty good "jumping off" point. And the song was recorded just a few years ago, as a mature artist. If that voice is still intact today....well.... lets all hope we hear it again. Sensitive, yearning lyrics, too. Despite some criticism from music "pundits", Ms. Fältskog is sometimes at her best on these "types" of songs. (Love, romance, yearning, and... sadness.) Using the U.K. chart as a measure, "If I Thought..." is her highest charting post-ABBA single outside of Sweden. It also makes the 2008 "My Very Best" compilation.

I need to listen to the 2004 return album "My Colouring Book" further, to comment intelligently. I do know that "When You Walk In The Room" is also outstanding. Another recent You Tube comment (that song): "Her voice is a miracle" -- from 'gcafeche'. "Colouring Book" may likely wind up being her "sign-off" (solo, English) album, giving it some extra poignancy for fans. (Please see this updated post for another beautiful song from Agnetha that may speak to this, at least in part.)  

BTW, Agnetha's in-English singing shows hard work on the performer's part to "get it right". (Plus, ability with the language.) Updated note: As with all artists, not everything attempted is a triumph. The recent ending of AMC's "Mad Men", Episode 12 (Season 3) reminds me that, though Agnetha's voice is beautiful as always on "Colouring Book's" "The End of The World", she did not touch the original from Skeeter Davis. For me anyway, Agnetha's voice is just too bright for this heartbreak song, and doesn't capture the despair of Skeeter's version. (Not "wrenching" enough - though the Swedish singer is capable of that.) The whistling in this updated, cover version didn't work for me.

Proceeding, it looks like we're not going to be able to limit this to only one post-ABBA song. (A good thing! To be honest, this singer might be able to "sing the telephone book" and have me listening. Ref.: This album's song "P&B". I don't know what she's "on about", but she sounds great. Brightly sung. And: Like her brief (but inane) spoken section at the beginning. A feminine voice. And an appealing accent... throughout. )
Continuing, I'd immediately offer Ms. Fältskog's "The Queen of Hearts" for consideration, released (in English) on her 1998 "That's Me" album. (Note: It was recorded back in the early '80s as a 'demo'.) It shows off the power, range and clarity of her voice, and it's lyrics easily can be associated with the talented and attractive lady herself. (Not that this was necessarily intended.) It's not on '08's "Very Best". Update: If interested, a quick recommended read at this point: Carl Magnus Palm's liner notes for Agnetha's "That's Me" hits compilation (link). His notes touch upon all of her '80s solo efforts and contains good information and commentary. I certainly agree with his assessment of the artist's "stunning" English rendition of this song, "The Queen of Hearts". (Somehow "only" a demo originally.) Updated note: The Swedish version of this song seems even better; softer and sweeter....

Still going back a way, the title single from 1983's "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" has many of the qualities mentioned: Striking clarity. Range. Plus drama, and some fantasy-inspiring lyrics. (As a solo singer, I love this pop soprano's(?) surprisingly rich lower expanse (strong example, here). It's one of the best parts of her range, and could it bebe even better today?? And, also: Is she a soprano? )  I also happen to enjoy it immensely when Agnetha hums or "la-las", as she does just a bit in this song. (So this little 1974 Agnetha number (link) has me in heaven.) The sweetness in her voice is apparent especially later in the song here. Mimed in the video below, in an odd '80s outfit, but still: A superstar performance by the spellbinding lady. Brilliant at engaging (viewers) via the camera.....and in command of the audience on this one. (Conquering any shyness, etc. in the spotlight here.)
(It's track 1 on disc 2 of "My Very Best".)
The 80's-sounding "Can't Shake Loose" (from Wrap Your Arms...it's on the My Very Best compilation) may deserve a quick mention (more here about the song's promo video (link)), as does "The Heat is On". The artist's higher voice was at times like Olivia Newton-John's. I'm not sure at times if it was truly the best area for her. I further wonder what her vocal tessitura is/was considered to be.... She sometimes strained or pinched on her highest notes, or could sound a bit like a young girl. With due respect, seems to me that this singer's very highest voice may have been best reserved for dramatic accent, within harmony. (As used in ABBA at times. Again, it's significant to note that ABBA's producers (read: Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus) regularly "pushed" their singers' limits, according to Mr. Palm's 2001 biography. Ref. page 263.) Update: Please note this angelic, high-voiced, falsetto exception to the above (link). And, in general, it's impressive what this singer could "do" (various effects, range-use, etc.) with her voice. Certain solo songs really helped bring that out....
As seen in an earlier post I'm also fond of sexy "Stay" from this album, though its background "panting" (etc.) is a bit much and can easily become distracting. Speaking of versatile Agnetha's vocal realms, 1987's "Let It Shine" ("I Stand Alone" album) is sung in a nice, sweet vocal "channel". A relaxed, smooth-sounding Agnetha singing a bright song. Shinily sung as if there's a smile on her face. It's on "Very Best". (Please see more about this '87 album, here.) And, a required mention of actress Agnetha's (sort of) secret sense of humor, on display below in a catchy, very '80's music video. ("I Won't Let You Go", from her 1985 "Eyes of a Woman" album. I believe that Ms. Fältskog wrote the melody for this song.) A brightly sung but echo-ey thing; however: She nailed the singing.  Solid lower-voice portions. Brilliant, crystal-clear delivery. Feeling. And shining flashes of her dramatic higher voice (repeatedly in the refrain). Strong; with not much "pinching" or straining. It's on "Very Best", and is a nice example of (some of) her vocal abilities. At least to me, only Agnetha was able to sound like this. (Ignoring the song's '80s production excesses and the awkward body-builder video.) :
(Links) Song is in the middle section of this section of the nice "A is for Agnetha" 1985 TV special: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8D1sOklwiw
another, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGG8XexinA0&feature=related

2011 update and edit:  This 2009-10 post got a little long -- and rambling. Therefore, several remaining paragraphs are getting 'cut' here, with the exception of a few words about - and a YT video for - Ms. Fältskog's (1983) "Man". We'll then proceed more directly to my 2009-10 listing of top, in-English solo songs for the artist. (Which repeated some of the edited paragraphs' content within their brief descriptions.)
Plus, now that I know more about Ms. Fältskog's Swedish solo work I will try an updated "top ten" list: "The Best of Agnetha, solo". (Further below, near the end.)

(Previously written text:) Another song that does not make the "Very Best" compilation: Seductively-tempoed "Man". It's Ms. Fältskog's own song, and it is sung with angelic clarity and sweetness. Beautifully "self-harmonized". (At least two different voice lines sung by the artist, then combined. Seemingly "harmonizing with herself" I believe, at points.)

Even without enhancement, a clear, "metallic" voice that also can be beautifully softened, packed with emotion, etc., etc...
At times it features ringing "brilliance" (sharpness and clarity of tone). And "Man" seemed to be sung from the heart.. I.e., again with the yearning?  Remarkable. And ...an 'extra' re this song and album: Part of the making of the "Wrap..." album. Agnetha is impressive to watch and hear... behind the scenes. A gifted singer. Although some "live" singing in this video could be dubbed in from the (final) album(?).  Hard to tell....(BTW: This YT video presently displays something like 260+ 'likes', and ZERO 'dislikes'. Some 'troll' will come along to spoil that of course....)



(Link for this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqhQauDpaug)


Is ""Wrap Your Arms Around Me" Agnetha's best (in-English) song, post-ABBA? Or, "To Love"? "Let It Shine"? Angelically-sung "Man"? Personal-sounding "Shame", one of her own favorites? Super-sweet-voiced, plaintive "Stand By My Side"? Or her prominent later songs from the "Colouring Book" album? None of the above? The best perhaps still yet to come...?? Stay tuned....

P.S. So which one?? I'm still learning. And I think there are many to choose from. (Note: There is an excellent forum topic about Ms. Fältskog's "best" English solo efforts here (link). You can see some lists from others who have good knowledge of the subject.)

There's also early Agnetha (pre-ABBA) and then mature Agnetha. Plus stellar solo songs in her native language. But, for me (and others), it's mostly about that special voice and its qualities. So I have to "sneak in" this euphonious little earlier one (even though not post-ABBA), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG4zeI-yPeg&fmt=18 and then... for me, it has to be this one, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqhQauDpaug. (Very close: "Colouring Book"'s two songs mentioned above were a tremendous affirmation of her abilities. (Plus solo song list number '2b', below.) And also (a surprise listing..so "high" up), the brightly sung and upbeat "P&B". She sounded really good and seemed to have fun (yee haw!).Thanks to YouTube's 'swissprincess1974' for offering this captivating snippet of Agnetha recording (or lip-synching recording?) part of "P + B". (They couldn't find a way to get this beautiful lady on-screen (in the movie...)? Maybe she didn't want to....)

So for this listener, post-ABBA: (Understanding that the list is primarily about the singer's voice, how well it is used, how it sounds, perhaps certain special qualities (of the voice) in a song, etc. It is less about the meaning of song lyrics (though a factor), strength or appeal of melodies, accompanying music (though a factor), etc., etc. Those still with me here, please take a look and let me know what you think (comments section at the end of the post). And, please also check out my updated "top ten" list (incl. Swedish songs) further below...


1. "Man"  (As time has passed a guess is that the artist may have become less pleased with this song's words. "Man" is not included on her "best of" album compilations. Portions are sung beautifully, however. BTW, if that speculation is accurate (it may not be), one may wonder why the occasionally fawning, "play-acted" "Mr. Persuasion" (not written by Agnetha) was included on the singer's 2008 My Very Best compilation. I.e., instead of "Man".)

2.( a "tie") Update: As I learn more about Ms.Fältskog's solo efforts, I "reserve the right" to change certain rankings here. This is a change... upward:  "I Won't Be Leaving You" from Eyes of a Woman is Agnetha's most affecting ballad-with-feeling... in-English, post-ABBA. Please read and hear more here (link).  (2010 update: Unfortunately, YT videos of this song have been removed (at least in the U.S.), by UMG.)  Sung subdued and sultry/sweet, with aching yearning in her voice at moments. That this physically appealing person could (also) beautifully convey real feeling in her songs (such as this) might be one reason Agnetha's fans still yearn to hear that special voice. (Yes; possibly for singer, too...? "Sexiest woman on the planet", says this YouTube poster - one of a number to do so....)) "I Won't Be leaving You" is a tender, intimate, headphones-compulsory beauty.
(Added note: Fan/experts at the 'abba4ever' forum don't seem to place this song near the top (on their comprehensive 'Agnetha' lists) , though many do like it. We all hear songs differently, and the focus here (i.e., this short list) is mostly upon the singer's beautiful voice (vs. lyrics). )

2a. (update): "Love Me With All Your Heart". Thank you to 'abba4ever' forum admin. Johnny for "reminding" me (via his comprehensive listing of Agnetha solo songs) of this 2004, My Colouring Book song, that I somehow overlooked. Though Petula Clark (and The Ray Charles Singers) popularized the English version, Ms.Fältskog makes it her own, and in some ways the 1960s song and lyrics seemingly are Agnetha. A very good job; it is Agnetha's clear and sweet-voiced sound, but with influences of Connie Francis and even a bit of Doris Day comes to mind (in her effort). (Not the first 'Doris connection' for the singer (link). And don't laugh (if you were): Doris Day is (reportedly) the top female box office star of all time, and (also) recorded over 600 songs. ) Thanks to 'abbafanglosuk' for the current song posting (on YouTube), and be sure to read the enlightening description/quotations that are included with the video. Here are some of Agnetha's thoughts about returning to recording with My Colouring Book

"I wanted to record this album partly because I have received many letters over the years where people write that they miss my voice. My own prime motivation has been the love for songs from the 50's and 60's, where there are very, very strong melodies and poignant lyrics. Many recordings from the time are fantastic. I feel very happy that I was so young when everything exploded in popular music. With this album I want to act as an intermediary of my experiences with these songs and artists. It's a tribute to them and what they've given me.""

(And you are not the only one happy to be around for the great popular music of the 1960's (etc.), Ms.Fältskog...)

2b. "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind". What can a mere mortal say, other than thank God Ms. Fältskog came back and recorded this. Perhaps the culmination for the singer, as a singer. (A wonderfully matured, yet still so youthful sounding, voice.) Again - as presented - this song seemingly is Agnetha. Or; she makes it hers. Completely owns it....The definition of a sweet, feminine voice, right there in your headphones.

The final stanza/refrain as sung; Agnetha drawing up close to the microphone in the official video: Pure heaven. (Ms.Fältskog's multi-faceted appeal in full force....)  Very few can instill genuine emotion in their voice as this artist can. And...where does that sweet 'ring' in her voice (to the fore in the song's finale) come from....?? (I.e., it is hardly just technical (recording) 'wizardry'...)
The most beautiful rendering of the word "columbine" in recording (recorded?) history as far as this fan is concerned, too...

2c. This version of "One Way Love". (Multiple voice lines sung by the artist and combined, again. Sung with lower-voiced power. See the previous post for more about this song.)


3. (update - I mentioned this song prominently in text above, but managed to forget to include it in this list's earlier rendition.): "The Queen of Hearts". I happen to prefer the slightly sweeter, smoother (linked) Swedish version. I feel that the singer's voice strains or "thins out" in certain, higher-voiced moments of the (recorded) English version. Another "signature (solo) song" -- especially in terms of how fans may (choose to) interpret (some of) the lyrics -- for the Swedish star.  (Side note: The Swedish version of this song was first recorded in 1979. So not yet before ABBA disbanded....)


4. (another 'tie'; quite a few very good song efforts): "To Love", and "Stand By My Side".  Both illustrate some of the appealing things Ms. Fältskog could do with her feminine voice. I wonder why she didn't open her voice and let loose a few more forceful singing moments like those in "To Love". It is one of her nicest-sounding solo efforts. The powerful rendering of the (sung) word "means" (to love) - is memorable.

The impossibly sweet, plaintive, refrain unleashed in "S.B.M.S.'' is one-of-a-kind. A siren's cry....arrowed straight to us. Only Agnetha could sound like that.  Ms. S. and P.  Sweet and Plaintive.

4a. "Let It Shine". As noted, I enjoy "bright Agnetha" -- her voice seems intrinsically sweet... and bright. (So she is "Ms. S. and B.", as well.(??) How did she manage that?) Anyway, songs that bring such qualities to the fore are appreciated. It is perhaps a cliche, but there often seems to be bright "sunshine" in this singer's voice. It can be warm at moments; at others it seems to "sparkle" or shine.... (Difficult to completely 'hide' in some of her sadder songs or ballads.) In such aspects "Let It Shine" is a signature work (i.e., solo songs, "sweet and bright". Here (link) may be another appropriate one...). Very smooth delivery, also. A good example of Ms. Fältskog softening her characteristic clear, ringing (sometimes fortissimo) voice (for portions of this song). One might qubble with some small aspect of this song - perhaps the tempo - but Agnetha delivers her vocals flawlessly. Excellent and fitting background harmony recorded by the singer as well. Very close to perfection... and a perfect - sweet and bright - female voice here, in my humble view.

4b. "Maybe It Was Magic", "Remember Me", "Wrap Your Arms Around Me", "What Now My Love" (All very good ones for voice fans. Compelling singing/interpretation in all, at moments. "Remember Me" is 'ranked' highly by me for it's impact: I think it can be taken as Ms. Fältskog's English-singing "swan song", if you will. I.e., no new English language albums/songs to come from the artist. (So the lyrics asserted their significance for me in this song (i.e., more so than the voice).) Also from ...Colouring Book, "What Now..." features appealing, building orchestration (and wonderful musicianship overall). Mature Agnetha finds a bereaved, slightly husky "ache" in her voice... appropriate for this one.  Very few popular artists are able to sing with bare emotion like this...
(Aside: For some reason Agnetha's occasional accent - which I usually enjoy - is jarring to me at moments on Colouring Book (in general). Perhaps it's being familiar with other (English) versions of (some of) the songs that she covers....))

4c.  "The Angels Cry" (Eyes of A Woman album, by Justin Hayward), is an excellent song for Ms. Fältskog's considerable abilities. She sings it in a mournful manner (for her) as it is (of course) a sad song. You can detect the longing in her voice at moments. Nice rising singing, and "clear as a bell". Perhaps could have used slightly more "softening" of the voice at appropriate spots -- which she could do....But, again, there's often no hiding the shiny brightness inherent in Agnetha's voice. (More, below.) Also, with close listening to this song, the singer seems slightly "off" (key) on a couple of notes here and there. A tiny bit of a struggle for her at brief moments. A rare problem for comfortable-(and precise-) in-the-"studio-Agnetha". BTW: Link to another superb rendition of this beautiful song by Renaissance's Annie Haslam (mind your volume): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK2rekYhmUo
(FWIW: My own very slight preference is for Annie's more accurately-sung, controlled... but less emotional version.)

Update - few more efforts need to be added: A mention for the "Eyes of A Woman" song from the album of the same name (which I seem to like more and more); as a good example of both "crisp" and metallic qualities sometimes present in Ms. Fältskog's singing voice. ("Metallic": It IS a quality.) Link to YT example is here.  And....yes; one more: "Little White Secrets" is a "stealthy", appealing beauty - especially in its forceful latter portion. Another feeling song from the artist; discussed in a bit more detail here (a future post).


5. (more 'tied' songs!) (update): "When You Walk in the Room" (from My Colouring Book). Power, volume, clarity...and enthusiasm from 54-year-old Agnetha. Love the sweet 'ring' (non-technical usage) still present in the singer's voice, especially in the fortissimo refrain. Plus... the world's cutest (correct) pronunciation of "...thunder boom".

5a. (update):  "If You Need Somebody Tonight" (from I Stand Alone). A slow and intimate one, again displaying feeling (in the singer's voice).

5b. "Just One Heart" (Eyes of A Woman album). Pleasant, and angelic at moments. One of the most engaging from Agnetha's higher voice. She uses her girlish falsetto ....It is different from many of her other songs. (Something that I like...)

5c . "I Won't Let You Go" (sung great, but marred by '80s production excess). Sexy "Stay" makes my list here, too. Appealing singing, but distracting background "panting" and moaning spoils it.....

5d. "P&B".  By the way, there appear to be several knowledgeable fans over at the "abba4ever" forum who definitely disagree that P & B was a good effort. Fair enough. (Reminder: This list is "about the voice" (how it sounds (to me)), vs. song lyrics.) To my "American ears" I think Agnetha voice sounds feminine and enjoyable. (I especially like it when she unleashes her bright voice element.) She is also sweet and siren-like in the refrain; almost letting it go, but with control.  Update: A beautiful studio snippet is here (link). (Via this YouTube clip (which might have been over-dubbed after production - can't tell for sure), excellent resonance on the word "fool", as she nails the lower-voiced moment...)

6. 1985's "Click Track". Actress Agnetha "raps" a bit (rhymes over a beat) and shows her sexy lower voice in an edgy '80's video. This appealing song/video combination would have been something of a hit in the U.S. (at the time) with proper promotion, IMO. (Especially the video.) One reason I prefer solo Agnetha: She tried out a few different things (such as this video effort). However, this song is still a bit of "ABBA formula": Bright music, (with a) sadder 'message'. BTW, we sometimes overlook this: Excellent English language skills displayed by the Swedish star in this fast-paced song. (Plus the intriguing Swedish-tinged 'rap' at the song's start....)

6b.  "Once Burned, Twice Shy". Listeners can definitely hear the "hurt" in the singer's voice. (Updated section:) Perhaps something here in the style of Ms. Fältskog's singing idol, Connie Francis?  Sung in a higher key (maybe a bit too high...), Agnetha's tense/wailing soprano voice is a little difficult to listen too. (In line with the song's lyrics, this may be fitting...) Not much sweetness (in the voice) here.... mostly angst. With what sounds like a slide guitar (I'm not an expert), a good, American country sound on this one. Agnetha's troubled,"crying" voice heightens the feeling of distress.

AND, "Golliwog" has to be listed, even though it's not a post-ABBA song. It's too sexy not to be. Young Agnetha's playful (and sexy) falsetto.(HAH! Try the Swedish version....It's funny; lots of play-acting (with the voice): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxiERdwOuCk&fmt=18 )

One more (unranked) ; maybe just a "typical" solo song example from Ms. Fältskog. (YT link follows.) Sounding great, with ease. Multiple voice lines sung, again. Catchy. (Almost a Steely Dan-like backing at moments. But maybe a lot of '80's pop songs sounded something like that.... The video is "totally" Eighties in look, and -- other than "retro"-fabulous-looking Agnetha -- not especially well presented.
But just one example of what Agnetha could almost effortlessly knock out (as a singer). (Please see this post for more about this subject.) Like others, I'd guess it could have been something of an easy-listening hit, with promotion. Agnetha has a good feeling for this one. Short song; nice job: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j-MkNGv4BA&fmt=18
(From "Eyes of A Woman".)
 

 AND...yet one more "nod" (OK, a "bow") to Ms. Fältskog's abilities: "Never Again", the 1982 duet with singer Tomas Ledin does not happen to be one of my personal favorites. (It is included on Agnetha's My Very Best compilation.)
The song seems a transparent attempt (by both singers) to mimic (popular music) American (black) "soul" artists, at least to my sensibilities. However...it wasn't necessarily a "terrible" attempt. (No effort that includes Ms. Fältskog's voice is (that).) Agnetha, at moments, could sound a little bit like such a singer. Kind of a "light pop/soul sound", as mentioned at this worthwhile website re Agnetha's solo albums (link).

As witnessed with ABBA, singing/harmonizing with others is a strength for Agnetha. The post-ABBA duets bring out and highlight her beautiful, feminine voice. One that does so is linked here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g9gLQBUfDM

Updated note: I consider the gentleman who administers the 'abba4ever' forum (Johnny) to be a complete expert about Ms. Fältskog and her music. Please have a look at his recent, five-page list (plus other fan/expert comments about it): "Johnny's Top 134 Agnetha song ramblings"....
We don't happen to agree on some songs (rankings). Johnny focuses upon lyrics and meanings more than I do. But his knowledge is much more extensive, extending to Agnetha's Swedish songs, etc. It is well worth a look.....there is much to learn for Agnetha fans. (FWIW: His "top ten" is fairly accurate, in my humble view, though I don't happen to agree with his #1. Obviously from my (less-comprehensive) list above, I place in-English songs "Man" and "Let It Shine" much higher -- focusing upon how (well) Agnetha sings/delivers them (vs. lyrics).



 (YT low-res. screen cap; source)

2011 (2013) update: A new attempt at listing Agnetha Fältskog's "ten best" solo songs follows. It is difficult to confine to just ten songs for this artist. (See above.) Her special voice - by itself - makes many solo efforts worthwhile. Please note (again) that I am focusing upon the singer's voice, how well it is used/sounds, her delivery, adapting/"shaping" of the vocals. (Plus some "intangibles" and nuances (with the voice/delivery), not easily described via words...) Lyrics, song construction, etc. are factors too, but the voice is the main thing for me. This newer list considers Agnetha's many in-Swedish solo songs, though I am still learning about some of those. (So some of the solo efforts now included are not 'post-ABBA'....) Also (per "the voice is the main thing for me"), "best" songs does not always equal favorite songs (for this listener).

There are differences between the newer listing and the 2009-10 one above, for a few reasons. E.g., the yearning "I Won't Be Leaving You" - a personal favorite - has been "bumped"downward, as it may contain a small, in-English (lyrics) pronunciation error, discussed further here. Better knowledge of Swedish solo efforts displaces a few in-English songs from the earlier list. Etc...
As noted, a number of excellent efforts will "just miss" a "top ten" listing for this talented singer....It is unfair - even misrepresenting - to limit to only ten songs. (Suggest Agnetha's 2008 My Very Best compilation album for a truer portrait of the solo artist. Her My Love, My Life compilation; more comprehensive for earlier, solo material...)  Finally...check back next week! One or two songs - especially on the latter half of my list - will have changed. How the listener feels, mood, etc. alters preferences, and 'what sounds best'....(E.g., 2013 update: I've flipped positions for "Man" and "Tio mil kvar till Korpilombolo". The latter -- now "ranked" #3 on my fan's list -- is a fine representation of Agnetha's sweet and bright voice elements...

(Please see another brief 2013 update following the list....)

Here goes...(Note: Many of the following are currently available for listening via YouTube (one link here (new window)), and also on the album compilation cited above):

1. "Nar du tar mig i din famn", My Very Best and other albums. (Among other qualities, a good sample of Ms. Fältskog's clear singing voice....)

2. "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind", from Agnetha's My Colouring Book album. (Pls. see the older section above for more about this effort.)

3. "Tio mil kvar till Korpilombolo", from My Very Best and others. (Sweet and bright -(voiced). Most distinctly Agnetha! (The singer; i.e., sounding like no one else here. )  ...Plus: Ms. Fältskog's humming (etc.) throughout this effort, especially at the close -- heaven on earth. (Including not-easy-to-execute quick drops to lower notes at moments within the song.)

4. "Mina Ögon", from Elva Kvinnor I Ett Hus. (Pls. see this post for a little bit more about this song.)

5. "Man", from Wrap Your Arms Around Me. (Pls again see above for more about this song.)

6. "One Way Love", from Eyes of a Woman. (Pls. see this post for much more.)

7. (tie) "Vart ska min kärlek fora", and "Nu ska du bli stilla" (link), both from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Swedish production. Agnetha might have equaled herself in the second, generally less-played song here...(BTW, these two are not technically solo (career) songs, as the singer was part of the production's cast. But they are spotlight(ed) solo performances and I'll include them.)

8. "I Was A Flower", from "A". This post - and blog - attempts to focus (particularly) upon Ms. Fältskog's special voice. Per 2013's album effort, that singing voice has changed somewhat since 25-30+ years ago. Un-surprisingly. To this one -- admittedly close-listening -- fan it has become somewhat 'thinner' over time. (Best single-word descriptor I can conjure...) Though certain voice elements may be less prominent (or available) than before, others are still remarkably present: Listeners know it is distinctively Agnetha('s). 

In that context (and contributing to a slightly lowered (song) "ranking" here), "I Was A Flower" is a dark jewel from an artist evolved as a master of rendering heartfelt ballads. (Especially; lamentations of lost, ruined or unrequited love.) ...Both evocative and powerful, especially for some who may recall (moments of) the singer's career history... Agnetha has favored/done-favor-to such songs before. As previously noted however, the final, distressing moments of mournful "IWAF" are interpreted/delivered with one-of-a-kind woeful regret. The feeling here is that no other popular singer could have expressed those lines more compellingly.

9. As noted in the older section above "Love Me With All Your Heart" seemingly IS Agnetha Fältskog. A fitting song, "owned" by Agnetha and delivered with honey-voiced clarity by the mature singer.

10a, 10b, 10c, 10d (tie). "Maybe It Was Magic", from I Stand Alone. (Pls. see this post for much more...) Update: Obviously I'm unable to limit Agnetha's solo list to ten, so this list position includes a 'tie'.  
10a... "Let It Shine", from Eyes of a Woman. (Pls. see the older listing above for more about this song.)
10b...Despite a possible, minor mispronunciation in the lyrics, "I Won't Be Leaving You" is one of emotion-conveying Agnetha's best as a solo artist. More about that lovely song effort (headphones 'required') is linked here. 10c. Together, Agnetha and fiancé Björn Ulvaeus created an enjoyable, 1971 Swedish album, När en vacker tanke blir en sång ("When A Beautiful Thought Becomes A Song"). (Björn produced, Agnetha composed, etc.) Much of it is young Agnetha at her solo, age-21-and-under best, to my ears. A personal favorite from the album is the hard-to-describe, "one-on-one", artist/listener-bridging "Då finns du hos mig"(link). (Agnetha on piano as well as the lovely and personal vocal...) However, for this list focusing more upon the voice and singing, I'll choose the beautiful  The happy, youthful, nicely-self-harmonized "Nya ord" (link) is another top pick. Previous omission from this list: The full version of "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" (single) needs to be on an Agnetha "top-ten" solo list, if just for its whispered 'Älska mig's. (And humming....) 

11. (The most difficult choice, as so many good efforts qualify. Ref., my older listing, above:) "Little White Secrets", from  I Stand Alone. (An excellent YT video production is below.) All that I can try to say about this choice - which begins with a bit of tenuous singing (but that changes; fast) - is try to imagine siren Agnetha singing the latter portion of this song directly to you. In your ear. (It's quite easy to do so...) I.e., the later portion of the song that begins with the "Burning dreams..." line, until the end. Agnetha feels this one (as she sings it), and makes us feel it, too...It's genuine. Agnetha's "ringing", slightly metallic-edged, emotion-packed, feminine voice in the song section is (also) a "best of" snapshot of the mature, 1980s singer....  

As is evident via this 'top' song listing, my overall preference is for the more mature and accomplished adult artist. Especially as an age "thirty-something" singer.

Thank you to 'Fafner888' for producing this current YT version of 'Little White Secrets': 



(video link)


What do you think? BTW, FWIW: A few (of several) Agnetha songs very close to inclusion above are: "I Won't Let You Go" and "When You Walk in the Room (current video link)"...(Enthusiastically-delivered adult Agnetha efforts.) 2013 update: Actually, I would now "tie" 'IWLYG' and 'WYWITR' at number eleven in the (2011) list above. I have grown to appreciate Agnetha's stronger, more enthusiatic voice/singing employed in them. Also the more I listen, the more current #11, 'Little White Secrets' (somehow) sounds just slightly strained with some of the singing....
(Continuing, previously written:) ....Plus, 1975's well-done "Dom Har Glömt" (link). Don't know how to better express it, but the close-out of '75's Är du som han? is "Agnetha-'cool'".
And also:  1983's "Stand By My Side" featuring one-of-a-kind plaintiveness plus sweetness ((standard) def., meaning #1) packed into one voice/one song....(Esp. the chorus.)  An exceptional singing effort/result, IMO. And....What is delightful??... Young Agnetha's own 'En Egen Trädgård 'from 1975. 
More about that bright, 'period-piece' song is linked here...

Additional 2013 update: Other songs from Agnetha's "A" album's as worthy "contenders" (ref. above): Nicely-suited, well-interpreted "Past Forever". (The closest other "A" song to inclusion in the list above...) And, "Perfume In the Breeze": Some awkward lyrics but sung very nicely. Also, FWIW: I find the piece (to be) a little heavy on sentiment but this fan enjoys Agnetha's singing effort for "I Keep Them On the Floor...(Again FWIW: "Bubble" remains a personal favorite.....That bias, plus the song's uniqueness, Ms. Fältskog's delivery, and her dreamy "la-la's" also place that 'A' song close to inclusion in the list above....
...And yes; I still enjoy mature Agnetha's sweet-voiced effort for uptempo "Dance Your Pain Away".)



And please note: Many thoughtful Agnetha 'top ten' (solo) lists can be found at this excellent forum (link, new window): http://www.iphpbb.com/board/ftopic-30652567nx61610-9.html




Link to my full blog: http://star4abba.blogspot.com/