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Why Madonna ended up ‘begging’ ABBA for musical help

Madonna was one of the most established artists during the Eighties, particularly known for famous songs such as ‘Like a Virgin’ and ’Vogue’. She performed at this year’s Eurovision as a special guest to promote her new album called Madame X, although the show received mixed reviews. Some commentators even credit her with making a significant cultural impact through her music as various songs have a political message behind them.

Yet, the 61-year-old star recently had to cancel three upcoming dates on her Madame X tour because she is in “overwhelming pain” and the singer has to “rest and follow doctors’ orders” before she can return to performing.

In 2005, NME reported that Madonna had to “beg” the band to help her record one particular song – ‘Hung up’.

She wanted to use the sample of their 1979 song ‘Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight)’ but had to wait for their permission.

In an interview with Attitude magazine, she said: “I had to send my emissary to Stockholm with a letter and the record begging them and imploring them and telling them how much I worship their music, telling them it was an homage to them, which is all true.

“And they had to think about it, Benny and Bjorn.”

Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, half of the famous Swedish group, were the key song-writers behind ABBA’s success – but they rarely allowed other artists to use any of their music. 

Madonna continued: “They didn’t say yes straight away. They never let anyone sample their music. They could have said no. Thank God they didn’t.”

Benny and Bjorn told the Sunday Telegraph in 2005: “We get so many requests from people wanting to use our tracks but we normally say no. This is only the second time we have given permission.”

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The singer has been known to cause controversy throughout her career. Just this year during her Eurovision performance, two of her dancers donned clothes with national flags on them – one with Israel another with Palestine.

The dancers walked arm in arm, supposedly to reflect peace between the two rival states.

Eurovision then had to release a statement: “This element of the performance was not part of the rehearsals which had been cleared.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna had been made aware of this.”

The singer has sold more than 300 million records over her career, and Guinness World Records listed her as the best-selling female recording artist of all time in 2000.

ABBA did win Eurovision but disbanded in 1982.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad used to be fellow bandmate married to Benny, while Bjorn was married to Agnatha Falkskog, who was also part of ABBA. Both couples divorced, and the group split shortly afterwards.


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