Tuesday 06 April 2021
Author: Julia Zoller
Speaker: Christian Bowman
Illustration: Tobias Kobald
Editor: Frank Hallbach
Too many dark spectacle frames were assembled on April 6, 1974 in the semicircle of the Brighton Concert Hall. You sit on the noses of serious narrow-cut gentlemen and discreetly dressed women with hairstyles.
The live orchestra plays lively melody and courteous applause. Presenter Katie Boyle takes salmon-pink steps on a beige and pink-lit stage, cameras roll. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.” The Eurovision Song Contest started from Brigithon, Great Britain.
Like every year?
The next 32 minutes of the 19th ESC are “the same procedure every year.” Outside. A little bit of Schleuger, a little shameless, sometimes heartbreak and Spaniards with a guitar. Polite applause. Nobody is dancing. But then comes the 35th minute from ESC. A new commander appears, wearing a uniform jacket and a bikorn hat sits on his head. It looks … where it starts. Four or four times, a high tempo, a driving pulse. Enter Sweden. The guitarist wears silver boots and a blue velvet tight suit. Two girls running to the edge of the stage, one with white blonde, the other with red-brown curly hair. Both smile and shine. Long microphone cables create waves.
The director fades into the band’s name: “Apa.”
As the women start out with piercing voices, alert viewers hear the very unusual first words of the pop song: “At Waterloo, Napoleon surrendered … oh yeah.” In German: In Waterloo, Napoleon surrendered, oh yeah.
Where: Surrender can also mean military surrender. Benny Anderson, a member of Abba’s Bs, who wrote the lyrics for “Waterloo,” is not a native speaker. It is often said in relation to Waterloo: Napoleon was defeated. Napoleon is defeated in June 1815. Surrender, of course, sings better.
But: a “surrender letter”, a letter of surrender to the Prince of the United Kingdom (and later King George IV), already exists. The message is well preserved in the Queen’s Archives. Napoleon wrote it in mid-July 1815, four weeks after his soldiers were shamefully “defeated” by the Allied forces.
Strictly speaking, Abba had to start her song differently. “At Waterloo” is not geographically accurate. The famous battle did not take place “in”, but near Waterloo, in what is now Belgium. So “near Waterloo”. The battlefield belongs to the municipality of Prien Lalud. So if at, then please: “In Braine l’Alleud did Napoleon or what” and so on.
On April 6, 1974 in the Economic and Social Council or in juries from Malta to Yugoslavia, no one listened closely. Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid von Abba, who are in a much better mood than most other bands, test their “Austerlitz” in Brigithon to stay with Napoleon. They deservedly won the 19th Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo, a song that’s actually about love. This could also be a battlefield.