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Milestone Moments: 1974 - The arrival of ABBA

05 September 2016 at 21:00 CEST
ABBA won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden. EBU
The 1974 Eurovision Song Contest is an important milestone in the history of the competition for several reasons. It was the year that Portugal's entry was used as a signal to start a revolution against the government in what became known as the Carnation Revolution. Former winner Gigliola Cinquetti returned to the competition representing her home country, Italy, whilst Olivia Newton-John flew the flag for the UK. Olivia would later achieve worldwide fame with Grease. However, the night belonged to Sweden and the then unknown group ABBA. The rest of course, as they say, is history.

The 1974 Eurovision Song Contest took place in Brighton after Luxembourg declined to stage the contest for two consecutive years. It marks the last time that the UK stepped in to stage the contest when they did not win the previous year. The UK has hosted the contest a record eight times, even though the country has won the contest on five occasions. 1974 also marked the fourth and final time that Katie Boyle hosted the contest, a record which has yet to be beaten.

From the song, Waterloo, to the costumes, Sweden's ABBA stood out from the beginning. The group led from the start of voting and scored Sweden's first victory in the Eurovision Song Contest. ABBA received points from all but five countries, including the UK which famously failed to award Sweden any points at all.

The Eurovision Song Contest catapulted ABBA to worldwide fame, allowing the group to break out of the Scandinavian music market. Waterloo became a huge hit in more than 20 countries and changed the face of the Eurovision Song Contest. ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus continues to talk about the significance of the Eurovision Song Contest for both ABBA and Sweden and more recently he presented the Eurovision Song Contest with the prestigious Charlemagne Medal where he also made a speech, recalling his memories of 1974 with great affection.