One Hit Story: ABBA's Happy New Year


One Hit Story: ABBA's Happy New Year

Not a single festive season can do without this song – and for almost 40 years already! We tell all the most interesting about the immortal creation of ABBA, the song Happy New Year.


New Year's composition of the famous Swedish team was released on the 1980 album Super Trouper. The album was released in November, and the group was immediately accused of "speculation on a festive theme." ABBA member Annie-Frid Lingstad spoke on this subject as follows:

The song was invented and recorded before our summer vacation, and then we did not even know when the album would be released.

Indeed, Happy New Year was one of the first songs created for the new disc. Soloists of the group Bjorn Ulveus and Benny Andersson worked on it at the very beginning of 1980. In January of that year, the musicians rented a house in Barbados and went there to work on new material.

At first, the composition was prepared for the musical: while Bjorn and Benny were flying on an airplane, they had the idea of ​​a musical performance on a New Year’s theme.

We thought that this could be an interesting story – in the story, several heroes in one room recall their past and think about the future – something like that,

– said Andersson.

At the resort, soloists accidentally met John Cleese, screenwriter and member of the famous British comedy group Monty Python. The musicians offered him a joint work on the musical, but Cleese did not like this idea. As a result, ABBA soloists abandoned their idea of ​​a New Year’s production, but the song that they conceived as a kind of “message to the future” remained from it.


In the text of Happy New Year, the most interesting thing is that it is not about the holiday itself, as you might assume, if you do not delve into the essence. The composition begins with a mention of the "gray morning" after the New Year's party, when "all the champagne has been drunk, the fireworks have gone out." This is just the time to congratulate each other on the holiday and think about what awaits us in the new year. And here everything is not very optimistic: the authors in the refrain express their hope that we will see "a world where every neighbor is your friend", but at the same time in the verses there are, for example, such words:

Sometimes I see how a new bold generation comes, and I see how it thrives on the ashes of our souls. Yes, a person is naive because he believes that everything will be in order. It weaves, as if stuck in clay, and, not knowing that it has gone astray, continues to move on.

There are also words about disappointment:

Now it seems to me that all our previous dreams have died, now they are nothing more than just confetti on the floor.

Well, the last verse ends with the phrase that at the end of the decade we cannot assume what awaits us in another ten years and "what is there, at the end of 1989."

Bjorn Ulveus said about the meaning of the song:

It seems to me that one of the main problems of modern Western society is insecurity in the future and pessimism. Happy New Year is just about how important it is to look positively into the future. This song is in itself a political manifesto.

In general, ABBA's Happy New Year is not a typical holiday anthem about Christmas trees, gifts and Santa, and this is the special charm of the track. After 40 years, he seems to be as relevant as ever.


Video for the song Happy New Year was directed by Lasse Hallstrom: he worked on most of the band’s videos from the very first video, Waterloo. By the way, ABBA is the only collective for which the Swedish filmmaker, who later became the three-time Oscar nominee, created clips.

After all the most famous ABBA videos, Hallstrom made a number of cult films. He is the director of the films “What Gilbert Grape Eats”, “The Rules of Winemakers”, “Chocolate”, “Hachiko”, “Dear John”, “Quiet Harbor”, “Spices and Passions” and others.

As for the Happy New Year clip, it was partially shot right in Lasse’s apartment. As well as two other video groups – Knowing Me, Knowing You and One Of Us.

Other versions

There is a version of the song in Spanish, it is called Felicidad and was released specifically for Spanish-speaking countries. The song at one time reached the top 5 most popular songs of Argentina.

One of the most successful covers of the New Year's composition was recorded for the New Year – 2000 by the A-Teens collective, who sang many ABBA songs.

Among other well-known covers of the song Happy New Year is a version of Finnish singer Tarja Turunen.

The song also has a Russian cover, it was recorded by Marina Kapuro, the vocalist of the country group Yabloko. True, only the first verse was translated into Russian, the singer performed the rest of the text in English. Later, Kapuro participated in the creation of the musical performance "ABBAmania", where she sang the songs of the legendary band. She once even met with Benny Andersson and handed him an audio version of the production.

Some more facts about the song Happy New Year

The working title of the song was Daddy Don't Get Drunk on Christmas Day – "Dad, Don't Get Drunk for Christmas."

The song was released as a separate single only 19 years after the premiere, and then it hit the charts of several countries, including the homeland of ABBA Sweden. In 2008, the single was re-released, and he again visited the European charts.

Many fans of the group thought that the sad song about the New Year is dedicated to the separation of the ABBA members Björn and Agneta: the musicians were married for eight years, but just a year before the release of the song, they divorced, although they continued to work together.

It was Agneta Feltskog who recorded the main vocal part in the track, the other members of the group participated in the recording of backing vocals.


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