The Winner Takes It All

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"The Winner Takes It All"
Single by ABBA
from the album Super Trouper
B-side "Elaine"
Released 21 July 1980
Format Single
Genre Pop, soft rock
Length 4:54
Label Polar Music
Writer(s) Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus
Producer(s) Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus
Certification Gold (Netherlands)
ABBA singles chronology
"As Good as New"
"The Winner Takes It All"
"On and On and On"
Super Trouper track listing
Side one
  1. "Super Trouper"
  2. "The Winner Takes It All"
  3. "On and On and On"
  4. "Andante, Andante"
  5. "Me and I"
Side two
  1. "Happy New Year"
  2. "Our Last Summer"
  3. "The Piper"
  4. "Lay All Your Love on Me"
  5. "The Way Old Friends Do"
Music video
"The Winner Takes It All " on YouTube

"The Winner Takes It All" is a song recorded by the Swedish pop group ABBA. Released as the first single from the group's Super Trouper album on 21 July 1980, it is a ballad in the key of F-sharp major, reflecting the end of a romance. The single's B-side was the non-album track "Elaine".


"The Winner Takes It All", original demo title "The Story of My Life", was written by both Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, with Agnetha Fältskog singing the lead vocal. The lyrics to the song were thought to mirror the divorce between Ulvaeus and Fältskog in 1979, similar to the 1981 song "When All Is Said and Done", in which Ulvaeus deals with the divorce between Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson in 1981.

Ulvaeus denies the song is about his and Fältskog's divorce, saying the basis of the song "is the experience of a divorce, but it's fiction. There wasn't a winner or a loser in our case. A lot of people think it's straight out of reality, but it's not".[1] American critic Chuck Klosterman, who says "The Winner Takes It All" is "[the only] pop song that examines the self-aware guilt one feels when talking to a person who has humanely obliterated your heart" finds Ulvaeus' denial hard to believe in light of the original title.[2]

Fältskog has also repeatedly stated that though "The Winner Takes It All" is her favorite ABBA song and that it has an excellent set of lyrics, the story is not that of her and Ulvaeus: there were no winners in their divorce, especially as children were involved. Ulvaeus also wrote the lyrics for Fältskog's 1979 live number 'I'm Still Alive'.

In a 1999 poll for Channel 5, "The Winner Takes It All" was voted Britain's favourite ABBA song. This feat was replicated in a 2010 poll for ITV. In a 2006 poll for a Channel Five programme, "The Winner Takes It All" was voted "Britain's Favourite Break-Up Song."

Music video[edit]

A music video to promote the song was filmed in July 1980 on Marstrand, an island on the Swedish west coast. It was directed by Lasse Hallström.


"The Winner Takes It All" was yet another major success for ABBA. It hit #1 in Belgium, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, and South Africa. It reached the Top 5 in Austria, Finland, France, West Germany, Norway, Switzerland and Zimbabwe, as well as ABBA's native Sweden, while peaking in the Top 10 in Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain and the United States (where it became ABBA's fourth and final American Top 10 hit. The song spent 26 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, more than any other ABBA single).[3] It was also the group's second Billboard AC #1 (after "Fernando").[4] "The Winner Takes It All" was also a hit in Brazil: it was included on the soundtrack of "Coração Alado" ("Winged Heart"), a popular soap opera in 1980, as the main theme.

"The Winner Takes It All" is featured in the ABBA-based musical and film, Mamma Mia!.

Chart placings[edit]

Charts (1980–81) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 7
Austrian Singles Chart 3
Belgian Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart[5] 1
Canadian Singles Chart 10
Dutch Singles Chart 1
Finnish Singles Chart 2
French Singles Chart 5
German Singles Chart 4
Irish Singles Chart 1
Italian Singles Chart 7
Japanese Singles Chart 33
New Zealand Singles Chart 16
Norwegian Singles Chart 3
South African Singles Chart 1
Spanish Singles Chart 10
Swedish Singles Chart 2
Swiss Singles Chart 3
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 8
US Cashbox Top 100 Singles[6] 11
Zimbabwean Singles Chart 4

Cover versions[edit]

  • In 1993, British singer-songwriter Beverley Craven recorded her own light pop version for her album Love Scenes. It was also released as a single.
  • In 1996, singer Hazell Dean released a dance-oriented cover of the song as a single. It was also available on her album The Winner Takes It All: Hazell Dean Sings ABBA released that same year & later on the 1999 compilation ABBA: A Tribute – The 25th Anniversary Celebration.
  • A cover of the song by German pop band Sweetbox featuring Jade Villalon can be found as a hidden track on the European edition of their 2006 album Addicted. The song was played for the FIFA World Cup of that year.
  • A cover of the song by Swedish performers Gladys del Pilar and Dave Nerge from a stage show entitled "ABBA: The True Story" was recorded and released as a single.
  • In 2008, Scottish Steven McLachlan released his version on 10 November to raise money for eating disorder charity Beat. It reached No. 2 on the UK independent music charts.

Appearances in other media[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McLean, Craig (13 July 2008). "Knowing Mia knowing you". The Guardian (London). 
  2. ^ Klosterman, Chuck (2009). Eating the Dinosaur. New York: Scribner. pp. 170–71. ISBN 978-1-4165-4421-0. 
  3. ^ "United States of America". Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 15. 
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 383–4. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  6. ^ Downey, Pat; Albert, George; Hoffmann, Frank W (1994). Cash Box pop singles charts, 1950–1993. Libraries Unlimited. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-56308-316-7. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Use It Up and Wear It Out"
by Odyssey
UK number one single
9 August 1980
(for two weeks)
Succeeded by
"Ashes to Ashes"
by David Bowie