Mamma Mia, Pop Song or Demonic Torture Device?

I went to a friend’s choral concert last Saturday expecting a lovely evening of culture. Though the performance was indeed lovely, I unfortunately left possessed with a madness more deadly than unrequited poet love.

Had I the foresight of my Swedish ancestors, I would have sensed danger when the director announced the evening’s program, which included “Mamma Mia” by ABBA, one of the most commercially successful acts in the history of pop music.

They excelled at producing plague-like music that would sweep entire countries and yet I thought nothing of it, sitting politely and listening as the choir sang “Mamma Mia.” I hadn’t heard the song in a long time and was struck by the tune which was both plaintive and upbeat. Yes, it was quite the catchy song.

Later that night, lying in bed while sounds from the street leaked into my room, the tune echoed endlessly in my mind, “Mamma mia , how could I forget you. Mamma mia, just how much I missed you….mamma mia, here I go again.” Dear God what was happening to me.

I woke the next day with “Mamma Mia” on my lips and proceeded to waste thirty minutes watching the music  video on repeat. A product of the fashion-confused seventies, the video showcased precarious hip swaying with the daring addition of finger snapping and outfits inspired by a futuristic version of Xena the Princess Warrior in a winter landscape. It was the kind of material only an anthropologist could find impressive.

Oh but the song was maddening, addicting.  With each encore, it fermented my brain, crawled beneath my skin, and replaced the blood in my veins.

I tried to mock their outfits and teeth but I was a slave to the song, which like a fungus had taken root in the damp recesses of my mind where an entire ABBA colony was growing. My thoughts were replaced with “Mamma Mia,” the notes ricocheting in my skull without mercy, and I realized my sanity had been hopelessly lost.

Now, infected with “Mamma Mia” psychosis, sometimes the world fades to white and I see Agnetha, Benny, Björn, and Anni-Frid dancing and smiling invitingly in a world where lovers can cheat as long as they wear strap-based clothing. The members of the second most commercially successful act in the history of pop music were now my personal demons.

They haunt my every moment, parading in my dreams with ever stranger costumes—so many clasps! So much arm sleeve! And all day long– while making coffee, sitting in class, forgetting my passport, washing my spoon– I hum the dreaded song, “Mamma mia.” I know the lyrics now. I know them almost perfectly.

Once I’ve lost everything to this song and my mind is wasted, will that be enough? Will you then leave me, Agnetha, when I know it all? Will you depart from here, Benny?

Leave me be, ABBA demons! Away from here! Let me live the life I was supposed to live, the life others hoped for me. Let me return once again to dreams of rainy day naps and snow covered cabins. Take your poison music to someone with with no future, like a law student,  and let a simple Arabic student continue her doodles in class.

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59 thoughts on “Mamma Mia, Pop Song or Demonic Torture Device?

  1. Once I listened to the Duck Tales theme song.
    Next thing I knew, I was naked in the middle of a duck pond, swinging at them with a cricket bat. I’m pretty sure once I hear this song, it’ll trigger the apocolypse.

  2. Toni Yvonne says:

    I only had to read this post and I got those cursed songs in my head =.= Thanks. xx

  3. This is hilarious.

    I know the pain too… sometimes Ill be walking along and some ABBA song will pop into my head, completely uninvited, but there it will remain, sometimes for days on end.

    And here we go again! (and this time, it’s your fault!!)(I didn’t even watch the video!)

  4. Matthew Ismail says:

    When I lived in Cairo a number of teachers from my children’s school sang “Mama Mia” at one of their school concerts. Not only did I have to listen to my children singing the song for a month beforehand because they heard the teachers practicing, but then I heard the song sung (very well, I must say) at the concert, itself. The thing was lodged in my brain for months afterward. I found myself humming “Mama Mia” on the bus between Maadi and New Cairo, when walking down Road 9, etc. Then I watched the movie on a long flight, which only served to reenforce the problem . . . I’d managed to expunge the tune from my mind for some time, and then I stumbled across your blog . . . Thanks for that!

    Enjoy Cairo. Even five years wasn’t enough.

    • edrevets says:

      At least you had something to hum to keep the traffic noise out—what a Mamma Mia fest, though. That’s almost unheard of! And now you’re back with it again….reunited at long last. You’re welcome.

      I only have a few more months to enjoy Cairo so I’ll do the best I can!

  5. Journey of a Magpie says:

    I can utterly relate to you pain… I got the very same song forged into my mind shortly after that self titled movie was releases….

  6. The Hook says:

    Both? That would appear to be the only plausible answer….

  7. Rebekah says:

    there have been mornings when I’ve awakened with the American Anthem playing in my head …. and I’m not even American!!!

    Another time, I was humming a song, sort of subconsciously … when it finally reach a level of consciousness I thought it was really good and had to look it up online [I remembered a few lines of the lyrics]. Turned out it was in a commercial for Cashmere!

    Hats off for being able to make the litter ö! Many people would just have typed Bjorn.

    • edrevets says:

      To be honest I just copied and pasted from Wikipedia, but I accept your congratulations nonetheless. I get the anthem stuck in my head too, and then I feel like a crazy patriot or something: bad on two different levels.

  8. Audrey says:

    I always get the most annoying Disney songs stuck in my head – for days at a time. So I feel for you with this. Not sure which is worse but I know the feeling and sadly I know of no cure…

  9. Jane says:

    Makes me think of the movie Muriel’s Wedding. Congrats on being Fresh Pressed!

    • edrevets says:

      never seen it but I just looked it up and it seems like it wouldn’t be a bad watch.

      Thanks for the congrats! I’m assuming you’re referring to the FP back in August, unless there’s another one I don’t know about.

  10. The remedy: Just watch the movie they made a few years ago. Pierce Brosnan’s singing alone with help evict these tunes from your head. Promise…


  11. 4myskin says:

    Why did I click on this link?! Now it’ll be in my head! *cringe* I feel your pain…good luck getting rid of them!

  12. brains says:

    so…you had a song stuck in your head? yeah, that never happens.

  13. Great post! The problem of having a song stuck in your head is very real, and it’s called an earworm–I posted about it on my blog last week because I suffer earworms too. I hate to tell you, but the only cure is to replace the song with another one!

    • edrevets says:

      Earworm is a great name for it—I believe that comes from the German. Good people, the germans.

      I think it might be gone now, but unfortunately it’s been replaced with bad nationalistic Egyptian music. Think Toby Keith but in Arabic.

  14. Chad Gibbs says:

    Abba’s Mamma Mia is alphabetically the first song on my iPod, so many times when I’m trying to turn it on, that song begins playing. I wish it were Fernando.

  15. susannecollier says:

    As a child of the eighties I have a built in immuntiy to irritating pop, and dubious clothing, however I am now constantly bugged trying to work out who the first most commercially successful act was. Was it the Worzels? No, wait, Boney M…no hang on, it was Dollar…no….Shirley and Pepsi……………..somebody help me!!!!

    • edrevets says:

      Despite the fact Boney M had a similar penchant for all-white outfits constructed in laboratories, the first most commercially successful act was Beatles, a now forgotten band from Great Britain.

  16. prttynpnk says:

    This is like a Swedish chain letter! I think Amnesty International is working to stop countries from using Abba to break prisoners…..

  17. Sending you ‘Abba Gold’

  18. Ha! Awesome!

    That happened with me when I watched the Wind That Shakes The Barley, probably one of the best movies I’ve seen, about the Irish War of Independence and subsequent civil war. Heartbreaking and utterly amazing… Anyway, their marching song “Óró, sé do bheatha ‘bhaile” got stuck in my head. I think I might write a post about that actually.

    Don’t look at the comments.

    • edrevets says:

      The comments shall be avoided—it’s always frustrating for me when I have a song stuck in my head and not only do I not know the words, but they’re in a different language all together. God knows what I end up saying.

      • Yes, or lose your faith in humanity.

        And you have to be careful with that, there’s been more than one occasion where I’ve ended up saying something less than appropriate. :p

  19. Roly says:

    I enjoyed Abba music but that would drive me scatty 🙂

  20. sillyliss says:

    LOL. This has happened to me with Fernando!!!!!!!!

  21. Haha, I totally get how you’re feeling. In elementary school we had a day with the history of Abba in music class, and the eight year-old edition of myself went crazy and bought all the cd’s I could find from them. 10 years later those songs are still stuck in my head…

  22. I found the perfect use for ABBA music: exercising. Doesn’t it make you want to jump around? Everything of theirs except “Fernando.”


  23. El Guapo says:

    You’re doomed.
    May as well end it now.

    Nice knowing you!
    (and no, I didn’t click play on the video.)

  24. Hala J. says:

    This was bloody epic! Also, you now got Mamma Mia stuck in my head. Seriously. I was listening to Rilo Kiley and now ABBA’s infected my brain. Did you *have* to drag me into hell with you? DID YOU?!

  25. Apparently, you’re not up on your conspiracy theories, or you’d know that the members of ABBA are really hostile aliens from another galaxy, and bent on taking over the earth by enslaving and then destroying the minds of all human beings on the planet with their so called music! How else could the otherwise inexplicable worldwide mass popularity of ABBA songs be explained?

    And now you are not only a carrier, but also a vector – because even while aware of this terrible fate that has befallen you, you post a Mama Mia video here, so that others will listen and also become helpless victims of the same fate.

    Or maybe not… Lol 🙂

  26. Archon's Den says:

    It’s like Br’er Rabbit’s Tar-baby, crossed with British treacle, sweet but empty. Once you’ve dipped an ear in, it’s almost impossible to get back out. Think of AC/DC’s Hells Bells! Feel better now?

    • edrevets says:

      Well, now at least the music matches the hell that I’m in.

      But I think writing about the addiction and spreading it to others was very therapeutic. I felt better the instant I pressed the post button.

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