The best breakup songs: Abba vs Fleetwood Mac

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You’d think pop darlings ABBA would have little in common with American rockers Fleetwood Mac.

Abba was a four-piece Swedish pop sensation that featured two stunning women on lead vocals and their songwriting husbands who played all the instruments. They split in 1982.

Fleetwood Mac, on the other hand, is a five-piece American rock band that first got together in 1967 and is still going strong today.

Fleetwood Mac rotated its lead vocalists–the songwriting trio of diminutive Stevie Nicks, her troubled ex-lover Lindsay Buckingham and the introverted Christine McVie. On bass was Christine’s husband John McVie. Mick Fleetwood, band founder and namesake, completed the lineup on drums.

Fleetwood Mac is renowned for its dysfunctional dynamic, while Abba–at least on the surface–projected a wholesome family-unit vibe.

Yet, despite their obvious differences both bands had big hits with songs about their internal relationship breakdowns.

Rumours, the album that propelled Fleetwood Mac into the stratosphere, was also a vehicle for Lindsay to reveal how much he hated Stevie for their break-up.

Stevie Nicks recalled that Lindsay wrote Go Your Own Way with the line, ‘Packin up, shacking up is all you wanna do,’ to humiliate her. He knew she would have to perform it onstage for the rest of their careers.

If you watch the original video clip, Stevie looks close to tears as she glares at Lindsay throughout the performance. He ignores her by concentrating on his guitar and singing into the microphone.

In contrast, Stevie’s song Dreams takes a more conciliatory tone and advises Lindsay that life will improve.

Then there is Christine McVie’s ‘You make lovin fun,‘ where she states that her new lover is so much more interesting than her soon-to-be ex-husband. Take that John McVie.

Abba’s songs were more cathartic as they tracked the marital breakdown of Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus’ marriage.

In Winner Takes it All, the song focuses on the loss of a once loving relationship. Unlike Fleetwood Mac, whose songs are much more provocative and accusatory, ABBA avoids blaming any particular individual.

This difference might be explained by the presence of children in Agnetha and Bjorn’s relationship. It would be unfair to them if their parents were squabbling publicly.

Or it could be a cultural difference.

Even the song’s film clip is less vitriolic than Fleetwood Mac’s. Agnetha looks sad and briefly glances at Bjorn as the camera pans away at the video’s conclusion.

Overall, ABBA’s approach might be more mature but it also lacks the dramatic backdrop that fuels Fleetwood Mac.

The ongoing fight between band members somehow keeps Fleetwood Mac together despite Lindsay Buckingham’s recent sacking.

Therefore, the award for ABBA vs Fleetwood Mac when it comes to the most entertaining songs about relationship breakups has to go to the more personally inflammatory and theatrical dynamic of Stevie, Lindsay, and Christine.

ABBA vs Fleetwood Mac | 30 secs

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About the author

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.


2 Comments


  1. I remember in the 80s my oldest sister won an Abba pack in a 3XY radio competition. Can’t remember the question, but she called the DJ with the winning answer which was “Swede” as in the vegetable.

    • I had ABBA posters all over my wall and all their albums. I would have been very envious that your sister won an ABBA pack.

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