"The Name of the Game" is a 1977 song by Swedish pop group ABBA, and was released as the first single from the group's fifth studio album, The Album. It became a UK number one, topping the UK Singles Chart for four weeks in November 1977.[1]


 [hide*1 History


"The Name of the Game", first called "A Bit of Myself", was the first song to be recorded for ABBA's fifth studio album, following the band's European and Australian tour. It was their most complex composition yet – with Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad sharing the lead vocals but with solo passages from both women – and contained the influences of the laid-back California sound of the day.[citation needed]

The opening riff on bass and synthesizer is inspired by Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" from the 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life, and both Andersson and Ulvaeus have acknowledged being inspired by Wonder's music during this part of ABBA's career.[citation needed]

A preliminary version of "The Name of the Game" was worked into the 1977 feature film ABBA: The Movie, for which it was written. When it was eventually finished, it was released as the lead single from The Album in October 1977. Originally, another track entitled "Hole in Your Soul" was intended for release, but those plans were soon shelved. "The Name of the Game" was released with a live version of "I Wonder (Departure)" as the B-side. This B-side was one of several songs written for the mini-musical The Girl With The Golden Hair, written by Ulvaeus and Andersson and originally performed by ABBA on their 1977 world tour. The recording used on the "The Name of the Game" single was recorded at Sydney Showground, Sydney, Australia on 3 or 4 March 1977. A studio recorded version of the song was included on The Album.

"The Name of The Game" also marks the last time Stig Anderson helped with the lyrics of a single.[citation needed]


"The Name of the Game" was not as successful as ABBA's previous singles since 1975. It was more of a Top 10 success, only topping the UK Singles Chart. It was the second of three consecutive UK No. 1 singles after "Knowing Me, Knowing You", and before "Take a Chance on Me".[2]

The song was a Top 5 hit in ABBA's native Sweden, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa and Rhodesia, while peaking inside the Top 10 in Australia, West Germany, Switzerland and Mexico.[3] On the US Billboard Hot 100, where ABBA had not been embraced as strongly as in Europe, "The Name of the Game" bowed at No. 82 on 24 December 1977 and peaked at No. 12 on 11–18 March 1978.

An edited version of "The Name of the Game", which omitted the entire second verse of the song, reducing the length of the track from its original 4:51 to 3:58, was released on a promotional single in the US. The US radio edit of "The Name of the Game" then – apparently by mistake – found its way onto the 1982Polar Music compilation The Singles: The First Ten Years,[citation needed] and then onto a number of hits packages issued on both vinyl and CD in the 1980s and early 1990s. This edit also appears on the original 1992 version of the group's Gold: Greatest Hits album. Not until the 1999 remastered edition of Gold: Greatest Hits did the song appear in its entirety on that compilation.[citation needed]

When PolyGram released the first digitally remastered CD version of The Album in 1997, the fact that one of the nine tracks was nearly a minute shorter than it was supposed to be somehow managed to elude the remastering engineers – the US edit was again used by mistake and the first edition was subsequently withdrawn.[4]

"The Name of the Game" was sampled in 1996 by the Fugees for their hit "Rumble in the Jungle", the first time that an ABBA song had been legally sampled by another act.[5]

Chart positions[edit]Edit

Chart (1977) Position
Australian Singles Chart 6
Austrian Singles Chart 12
Belgian Singles Chart 2
UK Singles Chart 1
Canadian Singles Chart 15
Dutch Singles Chart 2
Eurochart Hot 100 1
Finnish Singles Chart 5
French Singles Chart 12
German Singles Chart 7
Irish Singles Chart 2
Mexican Singles Chart 10
New Zealand Singles Chart 4
Norwegian Singles Chart 3
Rhodesian Singles Chart 4
South African Singles Chart 3
Swedish Singles Chart 2
Swiss Singles Chart 6
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 12
U.S. BillboardAdult Contemporary 9
Preceded by

"Yes Sir, I Can Boogie" by Baccara

UK Singles Chart number one single

5 November 1977 – 3 December 1977

Succeeded by

"Mull of Kintyre"/"Girls' School" by Wings

Preceded by

"Way Down" by Elvis Presley

Eurochart Hot 100 Singles number one single

10 November 1977 – 22 December 1977

Music video[edit]Edit

Like most of ABBA's videos, the video was directed and shot by Lasse Hallström. During the video, the four members of the group are shown playing the board game "Fia-spel", the Scandinavian version of the German board game "Mensch ärgere dich nicht", which is a variation of the English board game Ludo and American Parcheesi.

Cover versions[edit]Edit

  • In 1977, a cover of the song was featured on the album Top of the Pops, Volume 62, using uncredited studio musicians and singers. The same recording was later featured on the ABBA tribute albumKnowing Me, Knowing You, credited to Top of the Poppers.
  • In 1995, on the New Zealand compilation Abbasalutely the song is covered by Shaynie & Fifi '95 (a one-off duo comprising Shayne Carter and Fiona McDonald).
  • In 1997, The SAS Band – Spike Edney's All Stars – covered the song on their eponymous debut album with English singer Chris Thompson on lead vocals.
  • In 1995 Any Trouble covered the song.[6]
  • In 1999, Swedish pop group A-Teens covered the song on their debut album, The ABBA Generation. Their version, like the U.S. release, omits the second verse.
  • In 1999, the compilation album, ABBA: A Tribute – The 25th Anniversary Celebration, included a rendition by Swedish singer Irma which also eliminates the second verse.
  • In the late 1990s, a dance cover by Abbacadabra was released through Almighty Records. An audio sample can be heard on the official Almighty Records website.[7]
  • Musician/songwriter Pamela McNeill recorded a slow ballad version of the song on her Tribute To ABBA album, which was produced by her husband Dugan McNeill.
  • In 2003, an electronica/dance version was recorded by Euphorica on the album ABBA Dance. However, this version omits some of the lyrics from the verses.
  • In 2004, on the tribute album Abbalicious, which features ABBA covers performed by U.S. drag queens, the song was covered by June Bug.[8]
  • In 2004, American-born German singer Sydney Youngblood covered the song for the German compilation ABBA Mania.
  • In 2004, Swedish musician Nils Landgren includes a cover on his album Funky ABBA.
  • In 2006, a cover of the song by Eurosonic was included on the chill out music compilation ABBA Chill Out.
  • Studio 99 did a full version on their Studio 99 Perform A Tribute To ABBA, Vol. 1 album.
  • In the stage musical Mamma Mia!, the song is performed by the characters of Sophie and Bill. In the context of the musical, the song is sung, mainly, by Sophie, who is trying to persuade Bill not to talk to Donna about his possible paternity to Sophie. The song conveys that Sophie is taking a liking to Bill and she tells him she could really care about Bill, if he lets her in, emotionally, as her father. They come to the possible conclusion that he might be her father and he decides to walk her down the aisle at the wedding. Some of the lyrics in the song are altered to suit the story. In the 2008 movie adaptation,Amanda Seyfried (in the role of Sophie) performs the song in a deleted scene with Stellan Skarsgård (in the role of Bill).

Live cover performances, appearances in other media[edit]Edit

  • The original ABBA recording was featured in the film ABBA: The Movie (1977), as part of a dream sequence. This clip was also used as the video for the single in some territories.
  • The song was featured in the 1983 film Christine.
  • The song was sung in the Mamma Mia! musical by Sophie to Bill, one of her potential fathers. She uses this song to persuade him to stick around and try to be a father figure to her.
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