ABBA: When I Kissed the Teacher

Swedish pop group Abba became global superstars after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, with Waterloo. After their triumph in the competition on 6th April, the song rocketed to number one in the singles charts across Europe.

It hadn't been an instant road to success for the quartet of band members, as their story had begun back in June 1966 in Sweden. At the time, Björn Ulvaeus, 21, was a member of folk group the Hootenanny Singers, while Benny Andersson, 20, was keyboard player in Swedish pop group, The Hep Stars.

© Bert Verhoeff / Anefo

The boys hit it off when they met and started writing songs together, forming a regular partnership as composers. In 1969, they met the two female singers who were to make up Abba - Agnetha Fältskog, aged 19, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, aged 24. Both were solo artists with hits in their own right.

The four of them formed Abba, with the band's name based on the initials of their individual names. Fältskog and Ulvaeus began dating and were soon engaged, later getting married in 1971. Lyngstad and Andersson eventually went on to marry in 1978.

Hit songs

Despite having been together as a band since 1969, it was another five years before they enjoyed mainstream success, as a result of Waterloo. This was the start of a string of massive hits, including SOS and the 1975 chart topper, Mamma Mia.

Abba had nine number one singles in the UK between 1974 and 1980. Their most famous hits, such as Dancing Queen, Knowing Me Knowing You, Money Money Money and Fernando, were number one all over the world.

They completed sell-out tours of Europe and Australia and also made a feature film, Abba – The Movie, in December 1977, which was released in cinemas at the same time as their record, Abba – The Album.

Two of their most famous singles were released from the album: The Name Of The Game and Take a Chance on Me.

Schoolgirl crush

Abba released When I Kissed the Teacher in June 1976. Written by Ulvaeus and Andersson, it was a light-hearted song about a schoolgirl's crush on her teacher.

It was reportedly one of Andersson's favourite all-time Abba songs and was accompanied by a video in which Fältskog's unrequited love for her teacher culminates in her clumsily lunging at him in the classroom and kissing him on the cheek.

The actor playing the stunned teacher in the video was Magnus Härenstam. He was better known as being the television host who presented the classic game show, Jeopardy.

The Abba song was released four years before The Police's more controversial song, Don't Stand So Close to Me, about an attraction between a schoolgirl and a teacher. It seemed somehow more light-hearted and innocent, as the lyrics were sung by a schoolgirl who was besotted by her teacher, but the feelings weren't reciprocated.

She sings, "Suddenly, I took the chance when I kissed the teacher," and then adds, "Gonna tell him I dream of him every night!"

The video, showing Faltskog and Lyngstad dressed in school uniform, was filmed more than two decades before Britney Spears' iconic schoolgirl outfit in Baby One More Time.

Modern version

When I Kissed the Teacher was the opening song in the 2018 film, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, which was based on the hit songs of Abba. It was sung in the film by student Donna Sheridan (played by Lily James) during her graduation ceremony at Oxford University.

The film's producer, Judy Craymer, said in an interview that she had liaised with Andersson and Ulvaeus and chose it to kick start the film because it was such a "high energy" song.

The lyrics had been slightly altered for Mamma Mia to reflect the more politically correct climate of today - as compared with the 1970s. The original version showed a female student who had a crush on a male teacher, while the film version changes the teacher's gender to a woman and Sheridan is joined by fellow female pupils who sing it as a girl group.

The teacher joins in and then all of the students in the hall end up singing and dancing. The 2018 film version of the song peaked at number 44 in the UK singles chart.

When I Kissed the Teacher is described as being an example of Abba's "soaring female harmonies, festive instrumental touches and uplifting melodies", in the same mode as Dancing Queen.

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