Chances are, you’ve danced, sung, and mimed along to Dancing Queen. Or at least pretended you knew the song at your best friend’s wedding.
But who the heck is the dancing Queen? And how did ABBA come up with it?
Let’s take a spin and find out!
Who Originally Wrote Dancing Queen?
The Swedish pop group ABBA wrote Dancing Queen in 1975, and it became a worldwide hit the next year. In the decades that followed, Dancing Queen topped TV and magazine polls as one of the greatest singles of all time.
ABBA started in 1972 with Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. The band name comes from the first letter of each member’s name. All members had years of experience before forming the group. Although ABBA was never called a supergroup, perhaps it should be.
Agnetha Fältskog, the youngest of the quartet, had a number one record in Sweden in 1968. Not bad for an 18-year-old. She met Björn Ulvaeus in 1968 on a music TV show, and they became a couple. They were collaborating on music by the time they married in 1971.
Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad also met while performing at a music festival in 1969. Although they didn’t marry until 1978, they quickly got on the road to making music together.
Everything was going well for these lovebirds. Not surprisingly, ABBA formed shortly after both couples went on holiday together. The potential seemed boundless with all that talent in the room!
ABBA’s popularity skyrocketed, and by 1978 they were one of the biggest bands in the world. The group seemed unstoppable with hits like SOS and Take a Chance on Me. But the rock n roll life took a toll on both couples, ending in divorce and the eventual band breakup in 1982.
Luckily, time healed wounds enough to get the quartet back together 30 years later. Collaborations began again in 2016, and ABBA released their ninth studio album in 2021.
How Did ABBA Create Dancing Queen?
ABBA created Dancing Queen in their typical fashion, with the music as the primary focus. Andersson and Ulvaeus were working on several new tracks for their fourth album. Each song had loosely formed lyrics with titles based on ideas or imagery. Boogaloo was one of those songs based on the imagery of dancing.
Rock Your Baby by George McCrae was on constant rotation to give the duo inspiration. The single was a chart-topping hit, often credited as one of the earliest foundations for disco. ABBA wanted to recreate the soft, easy sensation it brought them. Coupled with a bit of influence by the Creole sounds of Dr. John, Andersson and Ulvaeus created an incredibly moving demo.
The demo for Boogaloo moved singer Lyngstad to tears of joy before they even penned the lyrics. Manager Stig Anderson brought everything up a notch by changing the title to Dancing Queen.
After months of sound design and dense musical arrangements, the foursome finalized the lyrics. Dancing Queen is not so much about a specific person but more about emotion. It conjures the image of a young woman on the dance floor. And it can give anyone an easy feeling of joy and euphoria.
Although ABBA completed the song by the end of 1975, they didn’t release it until the summer of 1976. Manager Stig Anderson wanted to give their last single, Fernando, time to take flight. Both hits were highly popular. However, Dancing Queen is the one that remains ABBA’s biggest hit to this day.
What Popular Covers Are There of Dancing Queen?
There are so many covers of Dancing Queen! And we’re not just talking about the one your crush sings at your favorite Karaoke bar. The closest we’ll get to that is the version in the 2008 film, Mamma Mia!
Silver Screen and Television Covers
Mamma Mia! is a musical based on ABBA’s songs, showing worldwide since 1999. It’s so well-loved that it spawned a 2008 movie version by the same name.
The Dancing Queen movie scene features actors Christine Baranski and Julie Walters singing to Meryl Streep – all in character, of course. But we’re not going to give away the plot in case you haven’t seen it yet.
The 2018 sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again featured many of the same cast. But this time, an ensemble cast sings Dancing Queen from several boats on the sea. It’s quite a spectacle!
Aside from a TV appearance in season two of Glee, various iconic female solo artists perform the most popular covers of Dancing Queen.
Band and Solo Artist Covers
Cher released an ABBA covers album in 2018 called Dancing Queen. Kylie Minogue and Belinda Carlisle both sang popular live covers. While each of these is sung superbly, they sound very similar to the original. They aren’t necessarily bad, but it makes them slightly forgettable.
Elliot Lee, on the other hand, delivers. Lee is a singer and YouTube artist with a cotton candy edge. Her singles are immensely popular on Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music, and you won’t find her music on vinyl or CD.
Lee is the cutting edge of Gen Z. Her cover of Dancing Queen shreds with solitude and lament. It feels sad, beautiful, and entirely different than the original version.
We think the Elliot Lee interpretations of Dancing Queen, both the 2020 and 2021 versions, are the absolute best ones out there.
If you’re looking for something completely distinct and a little more masculine, try the Red Kross version of 1997. This band is unknown to most, aside from punk fans. But their cover is refreshing, and it’s fun to hear some heavy guitars and a bratty male voice sing Dancing Queen.
So, Who is the Dancing Queen?
The answer sits sweetly in the lyrics.
You are the dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen Dancing queen, feel the beat from the tambourine You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life See that girl, watch that scene, diggin' the dancing queen
You are the Dancing Queen. You! We may never know if anyone in ABBA had someone in mind during the months of work they put into this song. But we think it’s easy to conclude that the Dancing Queen is about youth and the simple joy of dancing on the dance floor.
You may want something or someone. But if you get in the swing, you can enjoy the moment. With a bit of music, everything is alright. These are words that anyone, at any age, can live by.