(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.))

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 "


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/

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