But let’s be frank; audiences aren’t going to see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again for character development, subtle storytelling or even plot points that makes sense. The world wants to see A-list celebrities singing their favorite ABBA songs, even if the vast majority of the Swedish super group’s hits were already included in the previous film.
There are plenty of great musical sequences in the film, full of expertly choreographed dancing, big budget set pieces and much less of Pierce Brosnan’s singing. There are also a number of duds, where it’s clear that producers wanted to fill time by adding in another song from ABBA’s expansive catalog.
While there are 18 songs on the film’s official soundtrack, only 16 of them made their way into the movie (filmmakers must have decided to cut “I Wonder (Departure)” and “The Day Before You Came” for time.) With that in mind, here are all 16 musical performances from Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, ranked.
16. "Kisses Of Fire"
It’s almost unfair to even place this song on our list. While many of the film’s other performances feature big-budget production value, a dance sequence or two, or even a general plot effect that they are going for, this ABBA song is treated basically as a one-off joke. Sung in a Grecian bar by a mediocre and comically cheesy house band, this number serves as more of a strangely drawn-out ABBA Easter egg than it does as one of Mamma Mia’s actual musical performances. The fact that this one made it into the film, but Meryl Streep’s hauntingly beautiful rendition of “The Day Before You Came” didn’t, is a crime.
15. "Knowing Me, Knowing You"
In another of the few remaining ABBA hits to debut in this film, young Donna breaks it off with the one lover she actually fell in love with as Harry departs the island. Harry sings from the ferry boat, while Donna watches him go from the shore — and that’s pretty much it. It’s an extremely short tune, featuring just the first verse and chorus of the song. While “Knowing Me, Knowing You” is one of ABBA’s most iconic songs, the film’s rendition simply isn’t able to do it justice. It’s tragic that such a wonderful ABBA classic lands this far down on the list, but the filmmakers may as well have cut this one with the amount of time it ultimately gets on screen.
14. "One Of Us"
While “One of Us” is a genuinely great and often underappreciated ABBA song, the film’s version of the breakup ballad was just a little awkward. In a scene that seems forced just so that the producers could include this track, Sophie has an angry and emotional phone call with her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper), where the two argue about whether or not he should stay in New York indefinitely to work at another hotel. The ensuing number features the two walking and moping about their respective bedrooms, with a few visual stunts that make it seem like they’re really right next to one another. It’s a fine set piece, but it’s ultimately undercut when Sky’s plotline is quickly resolved when he randomly decides to fly back to Greece to be with his wife.
13. "I Have A Dream"
Ultimately, this moment in the film doesn’t mean much — we watch as young Donna wanders through a worn-down farmhouse on Kalokairi (a fictional Grecian island), while the magic of filmmaking shows the audience the beautifully-made over current day version of that house, where Donna’s hotel now resides. Even Lily James’ silky dulcet tones can’t save this ultimately inconsequential number.
12. "The Name Of The Game"
This ultra-hit ABBA track was recorded and shot for the original film, but ultimately didn’t make it into the finished version. In it’s official debut in the Mamma Mia! series, “The Name of the Game” finds young Donna strolling around an orange tree orchard, where she has a cute run-in with a goat, does a trick with an orange and ultimately discovers that Sam, despite having slept with her the night before, is engaged. It’s a fine moment in the film, but it almost seems as though its inclusion was not a choice made on the basis of plot but so that producers could include one of the four remaining songs off of ABBA’s Gold compilation album.
11. "Why Did It Have To Be Me?"
When young Donna boards a boat with her future lover Bill (Josh Dylan), the cheeky sailor continually tries to convince her that the two should be together, despite the young woman’s protests. It’s an admittedly good number, putting an ABBA song that many may not know to good use in the context of the film. While it may not live up to some of the spectacle-driven performances found later on this list, this deep cut does its job and does it effectively.
10. "Angel Eyes"
After a few musical numbers wrought with emotion and heartbreak, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again needed a comedic break. So the film turned to Christine Baranski and Julie Walters’ Tanya and Rosie to cheer up the audience and Sophie. With the Dynamos trying to convince Sophie that she and Sky are going to be okay, this short number was both well-executed and hilarious. Sure, Rosie’s constant incoordination and undying love for bread were the lowest common comedic denominator, but it still made for a fun romp at a moment that the film needed it.
9. "Mamma Mia"
Yet another track that is repeated from the original film, this entry actually serves some narrative purpose. In the first film, Meryl Streep’s performance of the song — while very funny and relatively good — didn’t entirely make sense. Sure, she was surprised, but while she may have still had unresolved feelings about Sam, why sing a song about falling back in love with a cheating ex when you’re seeing three men, only one of which broke your heart? In the sequel, young Donna gets her own crack at the song, fresh after having her heart broken by Sam. So, when she and the Dynamos are set to perform at a bar, she decides to let out everything that she was feeling, and it makes for another lovely rendition of the ABBA classic.
8. "Andante, Andante"
Another loving moment from the film, “Andante, Andante” serves as an audition song, sung once again by Lily James. Young Donna simultaneously proves to a local bar-owner that she has a good enough voice to sing at her establishment and seduces her island lover, Sam (Jeremy Irvine). The background acting from Irvine and company falls to the wayside so that James’ stellar voice can ring clearly throughout this gorgeous rendition of a lesser-known ABBA B-side.
In the original film, fans were practically indignant at the fact that ABBA’s smash-hit single “Waterloo” didn’t make the final cut. The producers clearly understood that, and ultimately did the song justice in the sequel. Taking place in a kitschy restaurant in Paris, a young Harry (Hugh Skinner) convinces James’ Donna that they must be in love, despite the fact that they’d only just met. Complete with tap-dancing waiters, full-on Napoleon costumes and well-executed vocal performances from Skinner and James, “Waterloo” is a wonderfully fun number that had everyone in the audience laughing.
6. "I've Been Waiting For You"
While the plot and characters of this film are ultimately secondary to the sunny ABBA soundtrack, “I’ve Been Waiting for You” is one of two songs in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again that balances music with genuine, touching emotion. When Sophie takes to the stage to fill her deceased mother’s place in Donna and the Dynamos, the film cuts between her performance of this gorgeous ABBA ballad and young Donna giving birth to her daughter. It is a beautiful, tear-jerking moment that is only surpassed in emotion by one other song (see below).
5. "Super Trouper"
Everyone loves an encore, and that’s certainly true for the “Super Trouper” finale that plays over the film’s credits. The entire cast, (starting, of course, with Cher) comes back on screen for this costume-and-dance heavy rendition of ABBA’s classic disco track. With confetti flying and every single cast member wearing their most fabulous ABBA-inspired outfits, the song is a surefire crowd-pleaser that does it’s job to leave the audience feeling warm and fuzzy after the movie’s weepy, teary-eyed ending.
4. "When I Kissed The Teacher"
The film starts off with a whiz-bang performance from James’ Donna, Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies as the respective Dynamos. Taking place at the trio’s graduation from Oxford University, the girl group rips off their graduation robes to give a raucous and hysterical performance of this well-loved ABBA B-side. The moment sets the film up for its future show-stopping performances, and lets the audience know that their ticket was well worth the $15 cost.
3. "Dancing Queen"
Upon first watching this sequence, it’s easy to compare it to the original film’s rendition of ABBA’s biggest hit. Both take place partly on a dock, both have giant casts of actors lip-syncing and gyrating, and both obviously have a lot of dancing. But if you can watch Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again without at least smirking during this scene, then you are a stronger person than most. The simple shot of the three boats turning into the harbor, coupled with some hilarious acting from Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Stellan Skarsgård, make this one of the most enjoyable moments of the film.
2. "My Love, My Life"
When the opening of the film confirmed that Meryl Streep’s Donna had died, audiences felt shocked and cheated. Why would you kill off the one character that served as the anchor for the entire series? But if that’s what it took to get this beautifully heartfelt and sob-inducing number from Streep and Seyfried at the film’s closing moments, then it was worth it. As Sophie brings her newly-born son to her chapel to be christened, the spirit of Donna, unseen by anyone but Sophie, sings her daughter and grandson a delicate goodbye before exiting the chapel, and probably this world. Not a dry eye was found as the film ended with Streep closing the doors to that chapel.
How could it have been any other song? The moment Cher showed up in the film’s trailer, audiences everywhere collectively gasped and vowed to buy their tickets. While she may have only been present for the last 20 minutes of the film, Cher is undeniably the greatest part of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Her performance of “Fernando” is not only great simply by virtue of her impeccable vocals, but also because it represents everything the film ought to be. Rather than wasting an exorbitant amount of time explaining why Sophie’s grandmother is singing a song to her former Latin lover (played excellently by Andy Garcia), the film simply has Cher see his face, say his name, and launch right into this fabulous performance of the ABBA classic. It’s got crazy fireworks, it’s got dancing, it’s unbelievably campy, and it is Cher. The entire film basically becomes an elongated opening act for this song, and yet it was all still worth it.