SOS (ABBA song)

Single by ABBA
from the album ABBA
B-side "Man in the Middle"
Released June 1975 (Sweden)
8 September 1975 (US)
20 September 1975 (UK)
Format 7" single
Genre Pop
Length 3:22
Label Polar (Sweden)
Epic (UK)
Atlantic (US)
Mushroom/Warner Bros. (Oceania)
Writer(s) Björn Ulvaeus
Benny Andersson
Stig Anderson
Producer(s) Björn Ulvaeus
Benny Andersson
ABBA singles chronology
"Mamma Mia"
Music video
"SOS" on YouTube

"SOS" was the third single from Swedish pop group ABBA's self-titled 1975 album, their third for Polar Music and their second for Epic and Atlantic. It was released with "Man in the Middle" as the B-side. Agnetha Fältskog, who sang lead, recorded the song in Swedish on her 1975 solo album Elva kvinnor i ett hus. "SOS" was ABBA's first major worldwide hit since "Waterloo".


"SOS" (working title; "Turn Me On") was written by Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus and Stig Anderson and was recorded at Glen Studio on 22–23 August 1974. The title itself was coined by Stig, though the lyrics he provided were re-written by Ulvaeus. "SOS" was among the first of three songs recorded for the group's 1975 album, ABBA.

The song is unique among pop songs of the period, opening with unaccompanied classical keyboard in a subdued D-minor key. Unlike most ABBA tracks that preceded it, the vocal begins with an emotional solo performance by Fältskog. The descending chords and ominous Minimoog synthesizer melody line of the introduction set the tone for Fältskog’s vocals, sounding almost as if she were breaking down in tears. The song then transitions to a rock chorus in a major key, dominated by a distorted electric guitar and full vocals.

Despite the song's catchiness, it was passed over as the lead single from the album; the track "So Long" was chosen instead. "So Long" was chosen primarily because it had the same uptempo beat as their 1974 hit single, "Waterloo".

Lyricist Ulvaeus has said that, after three years of trying to figure out what style would define them, ABBA found its identity as a pop group with the release of "SOS".[1]

The song was the subject of one of the first pioneering music videos produced by director Lasse Hallström for the band. Much of the video is filmed from an overhead camera, as if from a tower or lighthouse, with the bandmates' faces sometimes distorted, as though shot through a prism.[2]

During the band's first visit to the United States, ABBA performed "SOS" on the long-running television program American Bandstand on November 15, 1975.[3]

ABBA performs the song live in the concert film ABBA: The Movie, Hallström's first English-language feature film, filmed during the band's tour of Australia in 1977.

ABBA performed the song on its 1979 tour of Europe and North America. While the track does not appear on the filmed record of that tour—released on DVD as "ABBA in Concert"—it is featured on the 2014 audio release, Live at Wembley Arena. For the first time on that tour, vocalists Fältskog and Lyngstad traded the line "when you're gone" responsively at the song's climax. Actors Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan would mimic the approach in recording "SOS" for the soundtrack of the film version of Mamma Mia! in 2008.


"SOS" marked a huge turnaround in ABBA's fortunes, most notably in the UK and Ireland, where it returned the group to the Top 10 for the first time since "Waterloo". Reaching #6 and #4 respectively, "SOS" started a run of 18 consecutive Top 10 hits for ABBA in the UK and Ireland.[4][5] "SOS" reached #1 in Australia, Belgium, France, West Germany (where it spent 7 weeks at the top), New Zealand and South Africa, and was a Top 3 hit in Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy (where it became ABBA's most successful hit), Mexico, Rhodesia and Switzerland. The song also became ABBA's second Top 20 hit in the United States, peaking at #15 (due to the single charting in the U.S. before "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do", whereas elsewhere "SOS" charted afterwards).[6]

Chicago radio station WLS, which gave "SOS" much airplay, ranked the song as the 61st biggest hit of 1975.[7] It peaked at number six on their survey of 22 November 1975.[8]

"SOS" is one of the most-covered of ABBA's songs. It has been recorded and performed in concert by several prominent artists, including John Frusciante, Peter Cetera, Chris deBurgh, and Portishead.

The track has a number of music industry devotees. The Who guitarist Pete Townshend has said "SOS" is one of the best pop songs ever written,[9] adding that when he first heard the song he "was transported by it".[10]

Former Beatle John Lennon declared that it was one of his favourite pop songs, while Ray Davies of The Kinks said that he was taken with the song after seeing the group perform it on the BBC television show Seaside Special.[11]

American singer-songwriter and former Czars frontman John Grant has called "SOS" "one of the greatest pieces of music ever made", adding that Agnetha Fältskog's "perfect" lyrical interpretation and emotional delivery is "a beautiful thing".[1]

British conductor and producer Charles Hazlewood called the song's "supersonic" transition from an acoustic D-minor key to an electric rock motif "absolutely genius".[1]

ABBA's performance of "SOS" on American Bandstand in 1975 has been included on lists of the most significant performances in the show's 31 seasons by several reviewers and critics. Bill Lamb put the song at number five,[12] as did Alicia Diaz Dennis[13] and Andres Jauregui.[14]

To date the song is the only Hot 100 single (or #1 single in Australia[15]) in which both the title and the credited act (and also the musical genre) are palindromes.[16]

Chart performance

Weekly singles charts

Chart (1975) Peak
Australia 1
Austria 2
Belgium 1
Canada (RPM) 9
Netherlands 2
France[17] 1
Germany 1
Ireland 4
Italy 2
Mexico 2
New Zealand 1
Norway 2
Rhodesia 2
South Africa 1
Switzerland 3
UK 6
US Billboard Hot 100 15
US Cashbox Top 100 [18]

Chart (2001) Peak
Japan 15

Year-end charts

Chart (1975) Rank
Australia 52
Canada [19] 160
US Billboard [20] 140
UK 48
Chart (1976) Rank
New Zealand [21] 37

Preceded by
"If You Go" by Barry and Eileen
Belgian VRT Top 30 number-one single
19 July 1976 – 26 July 1976
Succeeded by
"Stand by Your Man" by Tammy Wynette
Preceded by
"Paloma Blanca" by George Baker Selection
German Singles Chart number-one single
12 September 1976 – 24 October
Succeeded by
"Lady Bump" by Penny McLean
Preceded by
"Mamma Mia" by ABBA
Australian Kent Music Report number-one single
12 January 1976
Succeeded by
"Jump in My Car" by Ted Mulry Gang
Preceded by
"Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" by Freddy Fender
New Zealand RIANZ number-one single
30 January 1976
Succeeded by
"Convoy" by C.W. McCall

Agnetha Fältskog's version

Single by Agnetha Fältskog
from the album Elva kvinnor i ett hus
Released November 1975
Format 7" single
Recorded 1975
Genre Europop, Pop
Length 3:35
Label CBS Cupol
Producer(s) Benny Andersson
Björn Ulvaeus
Agnetha Fältskog
Agnetha Fältskog singles chronology
"Dom har glömt"
"Never Again"

Agnetha Fältskog's version was the second single from her fifth Swedish solo-album Elva kvinnor i ett hus (Eleven Women In One House). It was the only song from this album not to have been composed by Fältskog herself.

Despite the fact that Fältskog never promoted the single in Sweden, it peaked at No. 4 on the singles chart on 1 January 1976 during a 20-week chart run, and it also became Fältskog's third No. 1 on radio chart Svensktoppen, entering the chart on 22 November 1975 and spending a total of eleven weeks on the listing.

The B-side of the single, "Visa I Åttonde Månaden" (Song In The Eighth Month) was a song written from a very personal perspective, as it was composed during Fältskog's pregnancy with daughter Linda Ulvaeus in 1973.

Other cover versions

Live cover performances

Appearances in other media

Sampling/Influence on other songs


  1. 1 2 3 BBC documentary "The Joy of ABBA", produced by Ben Whalley (2013).
  2. "Abba - SOS". YouTube. 2009-10-08. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  3. AwardsShowNetwork. "American Bandstand". Abba On Tv. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  4. "United Kingdom". 2015-09-04. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  5. "Ireland". 2015-11-09. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  6. "United States of America". Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  7. "WLS : THE BIG 89 OF 1975". Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  8. "WLS : MUSICRADIO SURVEY : NOVEMBER 22, 1975 VOL. 16, NO. 7". 1975-11-22. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  9. Palm, C.M. (2002). Bright Lights, Dark Shadows. London: Omnibus
  10. Loder, K. (1982). "Pete Townshend: The Who's final days", in Rolling Stone (June 24, 1982)
  11. A is for ABBA, TV documentary. BBC television, July 1993
  12. Lamb, Bill. "American Bandstand - 10 Great Performances". Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  13. Alicia Dennis (2012-04-19). "Remembering Dick Clark: The Best of 'American Bandstand' - Beyond the Charts". Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  14. Andres Jauregui (2012-04-18). "'American Bandstand': Dick Clark's Greatest Moments (VIDEOS)". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  15. "ABBA – Group". groups. 11 February 2009. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  16. Whitburn, J. (2004) The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th ed. New York: Billboard Books
  17. "Songs from the Year 1975". Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  18. Downey, Pat; Albert, George; Hoffmann, Frank W (1994). Cash Box pop singles charts, 1950–1993. Libraries Unlimited. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-56308-316-7.
  19. "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Archived from the original on 6 October 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  20. "1975 Year End". Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  21. "Top Selling Singles of 1976 | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 1963-12-08. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  22. "E-Rotic Page". Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  23. "Euphorica by Abba Dance @ – Shop, Listen, Download". Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  24. "Reviews". Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  25. ""Come Together – A Tribute To BRAVO": Die CD! | Archiv | Bravo (Family)". Bravo.De. 14 September 2006. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  26. "The Fire Apes | A Perfect Day For Bananafish". CD Baby. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  27. "MARK T. WILLIAMS on Adult Contemporary Music In Japan". Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  28. jmsdeeter. "Dodd Ferrelle & the Tinfoil Stars | The Murder of Love". CD Baby. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  29. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
  30. "NEKKED | A Barrier of Skin". CD Baby. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  31. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 2010-04-09.
  32. "GABBA The Discopunk Sensation – MEDIA". Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  33. "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  34. "Song: SOS (To the Tune of ABBA's "SOS") - Simon - 2009 - Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education - Wiley Online Library". 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  35. "Song: SOS (To the Tune of ABBA's "SOS") - Simon - 2009 - Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education - Wiley Online Library" (PDF). 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  36. "Soldans på din grammofon" (in Swedish). Svensk mediedatabas. 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  37. Vivinetto, Gina (2015-07-14). "EXCLUSIVE: The Young Professionals Debut Sexy Cover of Abba's 'S.O.S.'". Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  38. Evan Minsker; Kevin Lozano (2016-06-22). "Portishead Release Politically-Charged Video for Cover of ABBA's "SOS"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  39. Seigel, B. (November 14, 1995). Making Tracks: Harley Crash Just a Temporary Setback as Ex-Chicago Singer Peter Cetera Hits the Road to Tout Latest CD. Los Angeles Times
  40. "Peter Cetera Tour Statistics: 2015". Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  41. "James Last - Abba Medley (From "String of Hits" DVD"". YouTube. 2011-02-03. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  42. "The Official International ABBA Fan Club - Timeline". Facebook. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  43. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 January 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-07.
  44. "RIAJ 17th Annual Gold Disc Awards". Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  45. Dave Simpson. "Glen Matlock: 'No matter what we do, nothing will equate to the Sex Pistols' | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/30/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.