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Abba hit out at right wing Danes adopting ‘Mamma Mia’

By | Published on Monday 27 September 2010

Abba men Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus have revealed that they recently threatened to sue a right wing political party in Denmark after they used their song ‘Mamma Mia’ at political rallies, though a spokesman for Universal Music has since confirmed an out of court settlement has been reached.

Denmark’s People’s Party had reworked the song so the main lyric was ‘Mamma Pia’, and it was sung in honour of the organisation’s chief, Ms Pia Kjaersgaard. A recording of the reworked song was played at the party’s rallies, and the organisation’s youth wing performed a live version.

Abba are the latest in a string of musicians around the world to object to politicians adopting their songs, with the likes of Keane, MGMT, Heart, Dido and Don Henley also complaining and/or getting legal on this issue in recent years. Generally, it’s political types on the right who face the wrath of pissed off songwriters.

As previously reported, if a song is only used at political rallies – and not synced with a campaign video – often there is nothing artists can do other than complain, because the public performance of songs at events is generally covered by blanket licences.

However, it’s thought that the Abba dudes might have had a legal case because members of the People’s Party had adapted the lyrics of their song, and such adaptations need specific licences from the relevant rights holders.

Confirming that the songwriting duo had handed the matter to their lawyers, Andersson told reporters last week: “Firstly, you cannot just rewrite songs as you like and secondly we want them to understand that we have absolutely no interest in supporting their party. Abba never allows its music to be used in a political context. This is something that we have pointed out to the Danish People’s Party”.

But Universal Music, who manage the Abba catalogue, has since said that legal action will not be necessary because the party have committed to stop using the song. A spokesman for the major told Danish media: “The Danish People’s Party has agreed to stop using the song and that means the matter is concluded as far as we’re concerned”.