S.O.S.
by ABBA

Album: ABBA (1975)
Charted: 6 15
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This is the only Top 20 hit in history in which the title of the song and the name of the artist are both palindromes - they spell the same thing forward and backward. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Randy - Kitchener, Ont., Canada
  • In a 2009 interview on the Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie show on BBC Radio 2, Pete Townshend of The Who revealed that this is one of his favorite records. He added that he first heard it in an Australian taxi and it acted as a soothing balm at the height of The Who's 1970s stadium-touring mania.
  • ABBA's manager Stig Anderson coined the song's title, though the lyrics that he provided were rewritten by Björn Ulvaeus.
  • This song reached #1 in Australia, Belgium, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and West Germany. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jerro - New Alexandria, PA
  • When Brian Higgins set up Xenomania, the UK team that has written and recorded a series of hit singles for acts such as Girls Aloud, he said that "SOS was the benchmark song we aspired to reach melodically."
  • Agnetha Fältskog has bad memories of laying down this song. She recalled to The Sun May 10, 2013: "When we recorded S.O.S., Frida and I were very tired of the choruses. I don't know how many times we had to sing them to make them big but we'd had enough of that song that day."
  • Portishead recorded a stark cover of the song for the movie of J.G. Ballard's novel High-Rise. In June 2016, on the eve of the Brexit referendum, it was released as a single as a tribute for the recently murdered MP Jo Cox.
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Comments: 34

  • Barry from Sauquoit, Ny– · – · – – · – – · ·
    Concerning the next post below when CQD was established...
    Seventy-one years later on August 3rd, 1975 ABBA's "S.O.S." entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #89; it then fell off the Top 100 for 2 weeks and re-entered on August 31st at #99, just over two months later on November 2nd it would peak at #15 {for 2 weeks} and it stayed on the chart for 17 weeks...
    Between 1974 and 1982 the Swedish quartet had twenty Top 100 records; four made the Top 10 with one reaching #1, "Dancing Queen" for 1 week on April 3rd, 1977.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyHere's some real obscure trivia:
    On January 7th 1904, CQD was established as the international distress signal, then two years later on November 3rd, 1906 at the International Radiotelegraphic Convention it was changed it to S.O.S, which became effective on July 1st, 1908.
  • Glenn from San Jose, CaI've always liked thinking I'm hearing the song's title in Spanish. So to me S.O.S sounds like "Eso es," which means "That's what it is!"

    I may have been influenced by "Eres Tu."
  • Scott from Halifax, NsAs Sara mentioned, Peter Cetera (Chicago) has covered S.O.S. Other great covers have been done by Cutting Crew, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Levellers.
  • Scott from Halifax, NsPete Townshend, who is one of the greatest guitarists in rock history, has in fact repeated many times over the years that SOS is one of the best pop songs ever written. His daughter Emma recently confirmed this in a British newspaper interview, adding that their house was filled with ABBA's music when she was growing up. SOS is a deceptively complex piece of pop music, a mix of rock and classical forms, acoustic and electronic tracks and of minor and major keys, with the melody driven entitirely by the harmony of the four voices. It grabbed me by the throat the first time I heard it in 1975 and it still inspires me today.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxOf course “S.O.S.” stands for something! It stands for the army euphemism for Chipped Beef on Toast (S*** On a Shingle).
  • Bratt Pid from Algiers, AlgeriaABBA's SOS was originally written for AGNETHA FALTSKOG ,the actual lead singer ,in

    swedish for her 1975 solo album ELVA KVINNOR I ET HUSS (eleven women in a house)the

    other songs all composed by herself and helped with the lyrics (which is unusual

    with female composers who are more lyricists)
    the song could never be in english and a international hit ,however it did and the

    same happened with fernando for FRIDA (the difference is that for SOS it was a

    translation and the last chorus features a new line in swedish (when you 're gone

    though i try how can i carry on , + "Varför ska du och jag som två främlingar gå?
    Var är han, denne man som jag älskade så?" meaning : why we two must go separate

    ways (like strangers); who really is ,this man that i loved so much.)

    for fernando ,the swedish words by stig deal with love affair,bjorn english lyrics

    deal with south american guerilla !)
    written long before bjorn and agnetha break up
    the heart break and the divorce songs of abba begin since the first album ring ring

    (desillusion)in 1973,hey hey helen ,a divorce text,was written in 1975 at the

    heydeys of their relationship ,found in the Lp ABBA 1975.
    it seems like bjorn was influenced by the lyrics of agnetha preABBA solo swedish

    material ,there are even some lines in songs of her previous albums (before 73) that

    had echo in the famous "the winner takes it all" .
    Agnetha sixties and early seventies own material consists mainly (the hits) in

    sadsongs which gave her fame ,she had less success with more joyfull songs .
    and that is due to her ability to cry in the singing without giving a feeling of

    weariness (like some french-chanson ) she sings more like acting with lot of

    feeling but not too much while Annifrid is more technical (due to her jazz

    background)
    this is the first masterpieces of ABBA,and as a fan i think it's ABBA at its finest.
  • Don from Auckland, New ZealandS O S just one of the songs that were big hits for the foursome. See, another foursome that did well. Ref The Beatles.
    I heard they made more money than the biggest carmaker in their home country at their peak.
  • Jude from County Derry, --This is a very well-made song, like nearly all ABBA`s work. Although never really a fan, I can appreciate their better stuff for what it is, classic seventies pop.
  • Kevin from Birmingham, United KingdomOne of my favourite ABBA songs
  • Stefan from Stockholm, SwedenAbba never was a one genré group and definitely not a disco-group. Maybe most of their songs was well produced pop-songs of which some had a disco touch. But they made songs in all genrés from rock (On and on and on, Watch Out, Hole in your soul, Waterloo) to ballads (Chiquitita, Happy New Year, Andante Andante, My love my life). Both Björn and Benny have said that they were very influenced by Beatles, Beach Boys, Procul Harum etc. But they also had their roots in folkmusic which is evident if you listen to for instance the instrumental Arrival, the experiments with "Hamlet" (Abba Undeleted) or to what Benny has been doing the last 15 years with Benny Anderssons orchestra, BAO.
    If you still think Abbas songs are just a simple catchy refrain with cheap lyrics, then read this (very long) article by Richard Corliss, Time magazine from premiere of Broadway Mamma Mia 2001: http://www.time.com/time/columnist/corliss/article/0,9565,180848,00.html
  • Robert from Denver, CoAs Jim pointed out, SOS does not stand for anything. It was chosen as the standard distress call in morse code because of its very recognizable pattern of dashes and dots that would be instantly recognized by any radio operator.
  • Achmed from Islamabad, AfghanistanOf course it means Save Our Souls, that's what it means.
  • Jim from Proctorville, OhThe letters SOS do not mean ANYTHING! SOS is used in morse code as an attention getter because of the pattern of dots and dashes. If you were a radio operator and knew morse code and suddenly heard SOS you would recognize it immediately as not being a word and would then listen for a distress call.
  • J from Everett, MaI think S. O. S. Means Save Our Ship. Often used by ships as a distress call.
  • John from Fort Worth, TxIf it weren't for ABBA I never would have survived puberty. John Martin, 46 Fort Worth, Texas, USA.
  • Mairi from Cantsay, CanadaThe letters SOS do not stand for "Save Our Souls", or anything else. It's Morse Code. Morse Code is made up of dots and dashes- the letter's don't really mean anything.
  • Sara from Silver Spring, MdThe song was covered by Chicago's Peter Cetera and
    country singer Ronna Reeves. It probably inspired the song's use as a duet in "Mamma Mia" in which one of the main characters sings to her ex-husband (whom she remarries at the end of the play)
  • Rebecca from Houston, TxI love this song. I wish disco never died!
  • Jason from Dublin, Irelandone of abba's best. the production of this song is great. also john lennon said this song was one of his favourite abba songs.
  • Peter from Wagga Wagga, AustraliaThe song was actually written by Bjorn when his marriage to Agnetha was falling apart and he was going through the pain and wondering where their lost love had gone. In the lyrics he was asking for help in understanding the breakdown of the relationship.. hence S.O.S.
  • Allan from Vanderhoof, CanadaIn regards to SOS in Morse code being three dots, three dashes, three dots, if you listen to the chorus of the song, after they sing "Darling, can't you hear me SOS", it sounds to me like the instruments are doing the Morse code. There are three short notes, then three slightly longer ones, then the three short ones again. Am I going crazy (a distinct possibility) or has anyone else noticed this?
  • Greg from Victoria, CanadaSOS indeed!!!.....just as bad as the people that sang them. The whole Abba thing had a kinda Euro disco..?I don't know.... but I just cannot tolerate that band. Different strokes.
  • Derek from Cambridge, New ZealandWell, I think it's a very nice, good pop song, which I'm sure the members of Abba weanted it to be!
  • John from Mountain Lakes, NjThe word 'Abba' also means 'daddy' or 'dad' in Hebrew.
  • John from Mountain Lakes, NjABBA is an acronym for the four names of the members of the group: Agnetha Bjorn Benny Annifrid
  • Wes from Springfield, VaMy friend used to insist that this was a song that wasn't sure whether it was bubblegum pop or hard rock.
  • Moya from Zoutleeuw, BelgiumI just wish they would get together for one last tour... They almost were going to, but one of them didn't want to. It's a shame Agnetha has become so paranoid over the years =(.
  • Tanya from Rotterdam, NetherlandsOne of ABBA's "problems" is that their songs sound so very simple. When you don't listen real close, you'll only hear that, and will compare them to simple hitmachine-like groups. But when you listen closer you'll find their melody's and arrangements are quite complicated and really hard to sing. As the makers of the "Mama Mia"-musical found out. My moment of victory was when I heard Bono of U2 defending ABBA. I was sitting next to my husband who looks down on ABBA and worships U2. "If you won't accept it from me, accept it from Bono", I told him. HA! And I totally agree with you: the combination of those two voices is sÃ? beautiful!
  • Moya from Zoutleeuw, BelgiumHaha! Last minutes of a strangled mouse... Good one. No really, listen to them A-teens (which I find rather disturbing) do they really sound good? I don't think so, I don't remember if it was Björn or Benny who said it (in an interview for the Belgian television) but without the voices of Agnetha & Frida ABBA would NOT have been ABBA. ABBA was vocally (sp?) & instrumentally very strong. The teamwork between the female's voices was superb.
  • Tanya from Rotterdam, NetherlandsWow, you can analyse a song to the graveyard! Still, to me it's more then that. No deeper meanings, but it's an extremely strong song. The brilliant part is that ABBA-songs always sound very simple and plain, but when you dig deeper, it appears they're not. In fact, they're quite complicated, musically. And you really must possess a magnificent singing voice to make them sound well, instead of the last miutes of a strangled mouse.
  • Liquid Len from Ottawa, CanadaYou're looking for some deep meaning in an Abba song? LOL. It's just a simple love song, 'whatever happened to us', etc. Nice classically-inspired synthesiser work and the trademark Abba harmonies - and like 'Tuesday Afternoon' by the Moody Blues, the song has a turnaround in the middle and goes from a quiet ballad to an upbeat pop chorus.
  • Calum from Edinburgh, ScotlandThe song is saying 'Help me, I don't think you love me anymore'. SOS stands for Save Our Souls and is an international distress call. In Morse Code is ' ' ' ' ' (three dots, three dashes, three dots). Of course, SOS may be the name of the person to whom the song is addressed; but I think it unlikely
  • Aiedail from Carnation, Wai dont get what this is about(yes, im stupid)
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