The Winner's Gonna Take It All: The final...

20. - a tie

'...Oh, I'm so restless, I don't care what I say and I lose my temper ten times a day... Still it's even worse when the night's on its way...'
- Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad in If It Wasn't for the Nights-


Don't say I'm not good at trolling.

Average: 8.6522
Highest score: 2 * 11.00 - @hownee @bichard
16 * 10.00 - @SecretsOfFatima @funkyg @CasperFan @Mikey1701 @WhatKindOfKylie? @Gotnomoretosay @ufint @AGiantSheep @Terminus @idratherjack @Animalia @Filippa @Scoundrel_Days @haps @Baby Clyde @Uno
Lowest score: 3 * 5.00 - @cityofdoomsday @Sprockrooster @JonBcn
My score: 9.50

So here it is... The album track that could...

Written and recorded in October 1978,
If It Wasn't for the Nights was eventually released a year later as the seventh song on its parent album. The song deals with Björn's state of mind during his divorce from Agnetha, when he was constantly working through the day, yet had to deal with the mess in his head at night... Relatable king.
Considered one of the best album tracks by fans and critics, it was slated for release as the first track to be lifted from
Voulez-Vous in January 1979, yet during later writing sessions for the album the boys came up with Chiquitita and considered that song a better single option... Hence them performing Chiquitita at the Music for UNICEF Concert, instead of opting for the more disco If It Wasn't for the Nights.

Disco... The word has fallen. This is straight up, no holds barred, funky as all hell, PURE UTTER DISCO. Where they had fused other elements with the genre elsewhere on the album, this was the most contemporary song present and personally I think it's a tragedy that this was never released as a single. It sounds fucking cool, uplifting (though the lyrical content doesn't say so on paper), the production is still as crisp as ever and the girls' performance is glorious, giving us a different kind of harmony than the one we were used to...

Guess we'll just have to live with the fact it actually did see the light of day as the b-side to Super Trouper in Japan in 1981.

Filippa tells us it's "The best song on this album." for her, Mina thinks it has an "Interesting take on this theme." and ufint calls this an "Instant classic! Why wasn't this released as a single?"... And that's the beef most of y'all had with the ABBA camp about this song.

Mikey1701 SCREAMS into the void "WHY DID THEY SCRAP THIS AS THE LEAD SINGLE?! WHY?!?!? This is THE standout track from the parent album, made even more remarkable given that Agnetha is singing lyrics written by Bjorn about his divorce from her. The chorus is uplifting despite the sombre nature of the lyrics and once again, Agnetha and Frida’s tight harmonies are beautiful. So, so good."...
P'nutbutter states it "Should have been a single. (The structure reminds me so much of Xenomania.)", with CasperFan sighing "Ah the No.1 single that never was but should have been. On an album packed with potential singles, some were going to remain album tracks but this is a real lost opportunity. Just a genius song, catchy as hell but a nice gem for people only familiar with the singles to discover later on!" and tylerc904 sums up "Fantastic, bombastic, LOUD." before stating it "Sounds like a classic despite being shunned single status.".
Normally I'd tell you girls to calm down, yet I completely agree your frustrations here.

constantino gave it a 7 and I don't know if his commentary is meant to be a compliment, but he tells us he loves "the way the vocals practically pierce my eardrums on the chorus.", TrueBeliever believes it's "Pleasant yet ardent, glamorous disco filler music. Nothing special, but far from a bad song." and poor ol' Sprockrooster has a hard time staying awake, saying "Yeah... this almost makes me feel asleep.". Really, sis?

WhatKindOfKylie? "can almost forgive B and B for casting this divine offering aside as lead single status in favour of the magical Chiquitita, but for a song so wonderful as this not to have been a single at all, is just madness on every level! A song full of sorrow and anguish cleverly hidden behind a perky bop beat, was one of many skills as songwriters that Benny and Bjorn had, and If It Wasn’t for the Nights is perhaps definitive proof of that. Amazing.". Look at us getting along these past few eliminations eh? Who would have thought during the early weeks of this countdown?

Though haps had hoped he could have given "it 10,5. So fab and recently discovered!", Hudweiser can only give it "an 8!? I just don't love it *that* much - the choruses go on a bit too long. It's still awesome though.". The length wasn't only his issue though, as Mumty thinks it's "such a fantastic song but it is exactly one minute too long." and idratherjack says it "Could do with a radio edit though." after stating it's "Perhaps the ultimate lost ABBA classic single.".

And though this received two 11's, the good sis bichard was the only vocal one, saying he'd "toyed with this and one or two other songs for the eleven, but I think this was always going to win. In the last ten years it has been consistently my favourite ABBA song and remained atop my ABBA playlist for a similar amount of time. It just demonstrates everything that is great and loved about ABBA in one song, without the general public knowing about it. But if they heard it, they'd instantly know it was ABBA. Really should have been the album's lead single as originally planned. I'm sure this is the Voulez-Vous number 1 single that never was...".
Preach a bit.

SecretsOfFatima yells "MASTERPIECE. So good that it gave us a Japanese performance in front of a balloon tube and accompanied by a Frida dance break. Magical." Said performance was the one they filmed for their 1978 tv special Live in Japan...

...and it was performed again that same year on the Mike Yarwood Christmas Show, which actually served as the unofficial video for the song. I"d have opted with the Japan one, but hey ho.

Of course, the song was also performed during their 1979 world tour.

Last edited:
Matt Pop remixed the song as part of his 80s ABBA reworks...

...did the same for Hazell Dean's version of the song, which she originally released on her 1996 album The Winner Takes It All: Hazell Dean Sings ABBA...

...and Abbacadabra also released their Hi-NRG cover of the song too.

VivaForever actually *whispers* this version "is better. Not quite deserving of its cult favorite status.". If ever there was a SIS necessary...
My 9 is partly to blame for this missing the top 20.

It strikes me, watching the Japanese clip, that this might be the culmination of the weird late 70's period when the girls very rarely look at one another while on stage.
I always imagined the character in 'If It Wasn't For The Nights' to be the same as that in 'The Day Before You Came', the former being all hyper-tense and pre-breakdown whereas the latter is deep into their depression.

(I also believe the 'you' in the title of TDBYC to refer to suicide and imagine Agnetha finally snapping and going on a mass killing spree with a Kalashnikoff before topping herself - but, of course, this could just be a sign I need to up my meds)
20. - a tie

'...I've seen you twice, in a short time, only a week since we started... It seems to me, for every time I'm getting more open-hearted...'
- Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad in The Name of the Game-


I only just noticed how happy they actually all look in this picture...

Average: 8.6522
Highest score: 2 * 11.00 - @Terminus @Mumty
15 * 10.00 - @TrueBeliever @haps @LTG @Filippa @Ed72 @AGiantSheep @ufint @Gotnomoretosay @AllGagaLike @P'NutButter @WhipperSnapper @dancingwithmyself @chris4862 @SecretsOfFatima @Mina
Lowest score: 1 * 1.00 - @WhatKindOfKylie? (sis, literally WHAT THE FUCK...)
My score: 9.00

The Name of the Game was written by Benny, Björn and Stig Anderson (the last time their manager would be involved in the band's songwriting process) and recorded in 1977 for
ABBA: The Movie and was released in October that same year as the album's lead single. The song was an international hit for the band, reaching the top of the charts in the United Kingdom and the top 3 in their native Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway and South Africa and becoming a top 10 hit in almost all of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico. Most notably, it was also a top 15 hit in the United States and Canada too...

The song is actually one of their most complex compositions as it features a variety of different tempos and parts (Xenomania's shook) and features shared vocals by Agnetha and Frida, yet both of the girls get solo passages in this song. A bit of an anomalyin their discography. Benny and Björn have admitted that the song draws inspiration from Stevie Wonder's I Wish.

I fucking love the song, yet somehow couldn't bring myself to give it the full points it probably deserves and I can't quite put my finger on why... Maybe because of the other classics it was paired with at the time of me getting into them.
Mikey1701's with me on this one, admitting "I can’t quite put my finger on it but there is something about The Name Of The Game that just never really connected with me. There is just something… missing, that magic that makes an ABBA song unforgettable. It isn’t a bad song by any stretch of the imagination, but the track isn’t an exceptional ABBA single like Summer Night City or Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight). That being said- it’s still a very good track.".

There's some people that did give it a 10 though...

Filippa loves "this song, to me one of their best!", with haps calling it "The coolest and weirdest rhythm change from verse to chorus in a song. Ok. Money by Pink Floyd did the same in a way, but still.".
Go ahead and compare, people...

P'nutbutter thinks it's "Structurally weird and bloody brilliant. Sophie Ellis-Bextor's favourite ABBA song too, so of course I love it!" and ufint tells us there's "So many different parts merged into one song, each one as catchy as the other. Amazing.".

CasperFan also loves "this song- a definite grower for me, never used to be a favourite but what a gorgeous song and the killer bit towards the end ”oh yes I wanna know” before that final , hook-laden chorus with the background refrain (I was an impossible case…) just lifts the song to another level.", yet VivaForever finds "The production on this is really hard to listen to sometimes, as are the vocals, which is a shame because it's an AMAZING song, as proven by literally every cover of it ever. The A*Teens and Irma ones especially.". More on those below!

bichard shades The Album as a whole in saying "This and Hole In Your Soul are the songs on The Album that rescue it from utter mediocrity (well, and Marionette, which is stupendously ridiculous). Funny how this was another that I didn't like much in my formative years. But as I've matured it's become a favourite. The fact that it's in a good key for me to sing at karaoke almost certainly helps its cause.".
Meanwhile, constantino thinks it has a "Lovely, warm melody," yet follows this up with "but certainly not one of their more striking or memorable tracks.". I completely understand your opinion, because that's probably what my reasoning is for not giving it a 10 too.

TrueBeliever calls it "Dark and pensive, this song reminds me of a very dark time in my life. I had just moved several states away from home, and I was missing my family, and found myself in an undesirable living situation and a desolate place that I ultimately hated. I found a friend who challenged my thinking, and this song really spoke to that dynamic. It’s a song that helps me remember overcoming a dark period in my life and my inner saboteur.".
It's stories like these that make me greatful for giving you this rundown. I'm glad you've overcome your state of mind.

An inner saboteur is probably what's keeping Hudweiser "from 10-ing this and I don't know why. It sounds a little too laid back and casual at times, but when you really listen to it, it's made up of so many components you wonder how they had the patience to see it through. Agnetha's parts are my favourites and the acoustic guitar in the chorus is pretty much what inspired me to play.".

tylerc904 had "gone so long without hearing that second/extra verse that it STILL sounds odd to me. I love the dual-lead vocals on this." and while we're on the subject, SecretsOfFatima admits that "Frida’s vocals push it to a 10.". To
Mina "The lyrics and and arrangement are genius; definitely in my top 5 ABBA tracks.", with kalonite loving "how this one just keeps twisting and changing on you.".

Mumty gave this his 11 and simply states "I don’t have words for how great this is. It is a masterpiece.".

We'll end on the very reason this missed out on the top 20 in favour of another track (watch this space) and that's WhatKindOfKylie?... One single point, sis?
"I know many love this, which is great, and I appreciate its more complex sound compared to their other loved 70's anthems. But, I just have never warmed to this one. It just goes on and on, and find it a bit cold and lifeless. Sorry!"...




Here's the album version...

...and the single edit.

The music video was directed by Lasse Halström, like most of their other videos. It's notable for having them look absolutely happy in each other's company, playing board games and frolicking about...

Pure melancholy, right?

Last edited:
An early version of The Name of the Game was featured in ABBA: The Movie in a sort of dream sequence.

A performance was taped for their 1978 tv special ABBA in Japan...

...and again for their 1979 special ABBA in Switzerland.

A live performance from one of their live shows during the 1979 world tour was released on the 1986 ABBA Live live compilation, where it was featured as a full medley with Eagle...

...and again in 2014 on the Live at Wembley Arena live album.

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

Poor ol' Sprockrooster was actually reminded of this song when listening to the original... "Oh, I know this, but not exactly. Than I realised it was the Fugees' Rumble in the Jungle that has sampled this confused me. Amazing. Queens of bringing iconic songs and consequently brilliant for sample use.".

In 1999 A*Teens released their version of the song on their debut The ABBA Generation...

[I'm just gonna put this live version of the song out there for all you live vocal-lovers...

You're welcome!]

...Swedish singer Irma covered the song too for an ABBA tribute album...

(VivaForever, you're welcome, sis!)
...and around the same time Abbacadabra released their Hi-NRG version of the song too.

Amanda Seyfriend performed the song for the 2008 Mamma Mia! movie adaptation where she's singing it to Stellan Skarsgård, yet it was never featured in the movie as the scene was eventually deleted from the final version.

Something about it just doesn't work as slickly as most of the other remaining tracks. It could be the intro-verses in the creepy high voice, or the tempo just being a bit too lax. Is it a pop song? Is it a ballad? What the Frida is it?