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.