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ABBA vs Mamma Mia: who sung it better?


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One of the best parts of the Mamma Mia films is their entertaining and hilarious dramatisation of ABBA songs, especially if they involve Julie Walters falling over in some capacity or another.

In the first Mamma Mia, we were treated to an array of ABBA’s best hits, including ‘Take a Chance On Me’, ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’, ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ and Piers Brosnan singing ‘S.O.S’ with *that* voice.

So, in honour of the release of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, we ask ourselves: who sung it better?

1. ‘When I Kissed The Teacher’ – Mamma Mia

This song was practically made for Lily James’ voice, with the fuller upbeat backing vocals (particularly from young Rosie and young Tanya) coming to life in the film’s production of the song, more so than the original. The song is also given context in Donna’s graduation, with the inclusion of Celia Imrie, who plays one of the teachers.

2. ‘I Wonder (Departure)' – ABBA

Although the track works as a contrast to other more upbeat songs in Mamma Mia, Frida’s emotional and dramatic voice allows the lyrics to come through, and for there to be more of a climax in the song.

3. ‘One Of Us’ - ABBA

Amanda Seyfried has the voice of an angel, but, the track does not suit Dominic Cooper’s voice so much. It’s an unbeatable ABBA classic.

4. ‘Waterloo’ – ABBA

Although young Harry, aka Hugh Skinner, performs this song very well, he takes the ‘quintessential British accent’ a little too far to try to make this song live up to its original.

5. ‘Why Did It Have To Be Me?’ - Mamma Mia

Josh Dylan and Lily James' vocals both shine in this shimmering track, and accompanied by its 70s-esque backing, the song works really well in the context of a fun-loving film. Young Bill is also very nice to look at, which helps!

6. ‘I Have A Dream’ – Tie

It’s fairly hard to compare this track, as the film doesn't stray too far from the original. It suits Mamma Mia just as well as it suits ABBA.

7. ‘Kisses Of Fire’ – Mamma Mia

The upbeat synths and influx of harmonies that this track possesses make it a great listen, but Mamma Mia somehow manage to add to its dramatic and passionate rhythm. Panos Mouzourakis’ solo at the start of the track is highly memorable.

8. ‘Andante, Andante’ – ABBA

This song does really suit Lily James’ voice, but lacks the same depth of harmonies as the original.

9. ‘The Name Of The Game’ – Tie

Once again, Mamma Mia keeps to the same template, with the tone suiting both Lily James and Frida’s voices.

10. ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ – ABBA

Young Sam’s voice is considerably better than old Sam (Pierce Brosnan), so, despite the track starting out well, it slowly falls downhill. Another ABBA classic, Mamma Mia would've had to pull out something pretty spectacular to conquer the anthemic original.

11. ‘Angel Eyes’ – Tie

'Angel Eyes' is another banger from the Swedes, but it’s virtually impossible not to love the dynamic duo that is Rosie and Tanya, (Julie Walters and Christine Baranski).

12. ‘Mamma Mia’ – ABBA/Mamma Mia 

Lily James’ rendition pales in comparison to iconic Meryl Streep in the first Mamma Mia, and ABBA's original released in 1975.

13. ‘Dancing Queen’ – Tie

The ultimate feel-good track whether it’s sung by Abba or the Mamma Mia cast.

14. ‘I’ve Been Waiting For You’ – Mamma Mia

This song really showcases Amanda Seyfried’s incredible vocal range, and is a real tearjerker in the context of the film.

15. ‘Fernando’ – ABBA

If you love Cher, then you will love the Mamma Mia version. But, as much as I love dancing to ‘Believe’, Cher’s vocals don’t really suit this ABBA classic. 

16. ‘My Love, My Life’ – Mamma Mia

A ballad duet sung by Amanda Seyfried and Meryl Streep, with a beautiful back and forth quality. What more could you want?

17. ‘Super Trouper’ – ABBA

Another truly feel-good track for hairbrush singing in the mirror, and you can’t beat ABBA for that.

18. ‘The Day Before You Came’ – Tie

These songs are difficult to judge. While ABBA's original is full of upbeat synths, Meryl Streep adds another layer of emotion in a twinkling piano ballad to close out the film.

It's safe to say that in terms of music alone, ABBA classics are next to impossible to beat. But Mamma Mia certainly gives it a good shot, and with the context of the film's characters, adds extra entertainment value to the experience. 

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