22. The winner takes it all (ABBA)

For me, the best song of Sweden's hit machine ABBA (image credit) is the beautiful The winner takes it all from their seventh album Supertrouper, which dates from the twilight of their career (1980). Partially inspired by the real-life divorce of members Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog, this great song presents a first-person account of the inevitable, painful feelings of loss that follow the end of a romance. The lyrics have a no-nonsense tone of dark emotion, which is further enhanced by an almost gothic melody. The recording pushes it into the realm of the truly unforgettable thanks to a heartrending lead vocal from Agnetha and an arrangement that builds from soft piano lines and background vocals to a grand operatic coda.

Other songs by this act that would have qualified: not applicable.


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