It was held in the seaside resort of Brighton on the south coast of the United Kingdom. The BBC agreed to stage the event after Luxembourg, having won in both 1972 and 1973, declined on the grounds of expense to host the contest for a second consecutive year.
This was Sweden's first Eurovision win and ABBA are among the few Eurovision winners to achieve international superstar status.
A two-night preview programme, Auftakt für Brighton (Prelude for Brighton), was coordinated by the German national broadcaster ARD broadcast at the end of March and was hosted by the journalist Karin Tietze-Ludwig. It was the first "preview" type programme to be broadcast in many European countries simultaneously (traditionally each national broadcaster puts together their own preview programme).
ABBA were peculiarly credited in previews as "The Abba".
There were 17 participating countries and each country had 10 jurors who could all give 1 vote to their favourite song.
"Waterloo" is the first single from Swedish pop group ABBA's second album, Waterloo, their first for Epic and Atlantic. This was also the first single to be credited as "ABBA".
The song shot to No. 1 in the UK and stayed there for two weeks, becoming the first of the band's nine UK No. 1's, and the 16th biggest selling single of the year in the UK. It also topped the charts in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, West Germany, Ireland, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland, while reaching the Top 3 in Austria, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and ABBA's native Sweden. (The tune did not reach No. 1 in their home country, its Swedish (No. 2) and English (No. 3) versions were beat out for the top spot by the Waterloo album due to Sweden having a combined Album and Singles Chart at the time.) The song also spent 11 weeks on Svensktoppen (24 March - 2 June 1974), including 7 weeks at No. 1.
Unlike other Eurovision-winning tunes, the song's appeal transcended Europe: "Waterloo" also reached the Top 10 in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Rhodesia and the United States (peaking at No. 6). The Waterloo album performed similarly well in Europe, although in the US it failed to match the success of the single.