World of Chig   


“I was an impossible case, no one ever could reach me
But I think I can see in your face, there’s a love you can teach me”

#3 The Name Of The Game Abba

[415] Writers: Stig Anderson, Benny Andersson & Bjo:rn Ulvaeus. Producers: Benny Andersson & Bjo:rn Ulvaeus
22 Oct 77 – 12 weeks on chart – 4 weeks at #1 from 05 Nov 77

“I’m a bashful child, beginning to grow.” Oh yes, I was. A very bashful child. And perhaps a lot of you were too, which would explain this shocker! This, for me, is one of the big surprises of this whole exercise. I had no idea this song was even one of Abba’s most popular songs, let alone one of the most popular #1s all round. At one point it was in the lead, but it fell away at the end. Actually, quite a few songs were in the lead at various points, so I don’t even know why I said that.

‘The Name Of The Game’ entered the chart at #20 on the same day the Sex Pistols’ ‘Holidays In The Sun’ spat its way into the Top 40 at #15. This was shortly after the heady Summer of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and Virginia Wade winning Wimbledon at the height of punk. At the time, it was practically impossible to admit you liked Abba AND the Sex Pistols – it was very much one or the other, a supposed battle of good against evil (although which was which depended on your allegiances).

Abba climbed to #5 in their second week, then made #1 in only their third week on the chart. Fittingly, this was #1 exactly 25 years ago today, on the 25th anniversary of the singles chart, so it seems only right that it should be up there in our top three another 25 years on, for the 50th anniversary which we’re celebrating this week.

This was the sixth of Abba’s nine number ones, and the fourth one that has made our Top 50 so far, making them the most successful act in our survey. (No secrets given away there!) Taken from the album simply called ‘The Album’, at 4’52” it’s quite a long number one as well, though not compared with yesterday’s epic. It was the middle song in Abba’s second hat-trick of #1s, coming after ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ (our #49=) and ‘Take A Chance On Me’ (yet to appear, in either its Abba or Erasure incarnations). It made #12 in the States.

Six number ones brought Abba level with Slade and behind only Elvis (17), Beatles (17), Cliff (then 9) and the Rolling Stones (8), who they would soon overtake.

‘The Name Of The Game’ deposed Baccara’s ‘Yes Sir, I Can Boogie’ from the top after only one week. At the time, that was the only week a Spanish act had ever spent at the top of the UK chart. The second Spanish chart-topper was the father of our #27, and that was it until this year, when a sudden Spanish hat-trick became the third, fourth and fifth, with Enrique himself, Las Ketchup and DJ Sammy and chums getting in on the act.

Abba were deposed by the single that then became the biggest-selling of all time (for a good few years) and the Christmas #1, Wings’ ‘Mull Of Kintyre/Girls’ School’.

After many years near the top of the pile, Abba are now being pushed down the list of all time #1 hitmakers, where they are equal with the Spice Girls on nine. Madonna overtook them both in 2000, when ‘Music’ became her tenth, but she succumbed to the James Bond curse when ‘Die Another Day’ failed to make it eleven last week. (No Bond film theme has ever made it to #1 in the UK.) Westlife this week pulled ahead of Madge and two ahead of Abba and the Spice Girls with their eleventh #1, ‘Unbreakable’.

But where are the leaders in the list on our survey? Two songs to go and not a peep from Elvis (top, with 18 #1s) except for a Pet Shop Boys cover at #23. The Beatles are second on 17. No sign of them yet apart from John Lennon solo at #8. Not one of the Spice Girls or Westlife’s hits has appeared so far either. It seems to be quality not quantity that counts. Or is it?

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