- ‘One of the biggest reunions ever:’ ABBA announces comeback
- ‘Biggest reunion’
- ‘We looked ridiculous’
- Mamma Mia, here they go again! Abba announces virtual concert, 1st new album in 40 years | CBC News
- 'Abba-tars' will perform new and old songs
- Mamma Mia! ABBA makes a comeback | DW | 03.09.2021
- Return as holograms
- Reunion was long thought to be impossible
- Media report about a new tour
- The end of a myth?
‘One of the biggest reunions ever:’ ABBA announces comeback
LONDON (AFP) — Nearly four decades after disbanding and vowing never to get back together, Swedish superstars ABBA on Thursday announced a musical comeback with a new album and a London show featuring their performances captured by digital avatars.
ABBA notched up over 400 million album sales over 50 years despite parting ways in 1982 and resolutely resisting all offers to work together again — until now.
“We have made a new album with ABBA!” the band’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson announced via a video presentation in London, delivering the news fans have waited decades for.
The pop maestros had a string of hits in the 1970s and early 1980s after winning Eurovision in 1974 with “Waterloo.”
On Thursday, Ulvaeus and Andersson put an end to the suspense, following hints that something was in the pipeline.
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After the video announcement, both men appeared in person, dressed in black, for a presentation of the forthcoming album.
(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 2, 2012, Madame Tussauds waxwork models of Swedish pop group Abba are displayed at a roller disco in the Renaissance Room in London. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)
“The album is in the can now, it’s done,” said Andersson, describing the group’s return to the studio, against the spectacular backdrop of the view from the top of London’s ArcelorMittal Orbit tower.
“It’s been 40 years, or 39, it was no time had passed. It was quite amazing,” he said. “We’ve done as good as we could at our age.”
The pair looked relaxed and described their reunion as very friendly.
“No imagination could dream up that: to release a new album after 40 years and still be the best of friends,” said Ulvaeus.
“It’s the most fun thing you can do: to write songs,” he added.
The album will come out on November 5, the musicians said, with the show expected in May 2022.
The now septuagenarian stars of pop classics such as “Dancing Queen,” “The Winner Takes It All” and “Take a Chance on Me,” last recorded new music together in the 1980s.
British radio presenter Zoe Ball, hosting the interview, said: “This is huge: yes ABBA are back together officially.”
She hailed this as “one of the biggest reunions ever.”
The presentation came after the group — Anni-Frid Lyngstad, 75, Agnetha Faltskog, 71, Ulvaeus, 76, and Andersson, 74 — announced on last week: “Thank you for waiting, the journey is about to begin.”
The Swedish pop icons had announced they were returning to the studio in 2018, saying: “We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio.”
Two new songs — “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” — were played in London Thursday, featuring the band’s characteristic sound.
Acknowledging their age, the musicians said they were not trying to imitate contemporary stars.
“We’re not competing with (Canadian rapper) Drake and all those other guys,” said Andersson.
‘We looked ridiculous’
The musicians also described the process of being transformed into digital avatars using hologram technology for a new show set to launch in London next year.
They described how they were photographed in leotards to create the avatars for the show called “ABBA Voyage” which will play at a theatre being built close to the presentation venue in east London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
“We looked ridiculous,” said Andersson.
He said the show will feature the group as “digital characters” in 1979 when they were “in their prime.” They will look “perfectly real,” he said.
The show is “technically immensely complicated, the screen, the sound, all the lights,” he added.
It will feature 22 songs, mostly the group’s classic hits, and last 90 minutes, the musicians said, with tickets going on sale later this month.
The group broke up in 1982 by which time both of the quartet’s married couples were divorced.
They long steered clear of a reunion despite their music’s enduring popularity, fueled by a hit compilation album in 1992, the “Mamma Mia” musical and later spin-off films starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan.
“There is simply no motivation to regroup. Money is not a factor and we would people to remember us as we were,” Ulvaeus said in a 2008 interview.
According to Celebrity Net Worth, each member of Abba is worth between $200-300 million. In 2000, they turned down a $1 billion offer to perform a 100-show world tour.
“They’re very independently wealthy so I don’t think it’s because of the money,” Swedish Abba expert and author of several books on the group Carl Magnus Palm said of their comeback in a comment to AFP.
“I think they’re genuinely excited by the possibilities of this.”
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Mamma Mia, here they go again! Abba announces virtual concert, 1st new album in 40 years | CBC News
Swedish superstar group Abba announced Thursday they are releasing a new album, Voyage, and will «perform» a concert — as digital characters — in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Band members Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson made the announcement in person on Thursday at the park's ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture.
The Abba Arena, a new purpose-built venue that can hold 3,000 audience members, is being built at the park to host the group's upcoming concert.
The announcement was broadcast on a livestream event, which saw more than 200,000 people tune in around the world.
WATCH | Abba announcement awes fans:
The livestream on Abba's official channel began with a new song, I Still Have Faith In You, sung by the band's avatars, also known as Abba-tars.
The group created social media channels specifically for the Abba Voyage project last week. Fans were told to join Abba at abbavoyage.com, where they could register to be the «first in line» to hear more about the project.
Join us at https://t.co/AAFQLIrqJu #ABBAVoyage pic..com/7LYw3kojzB
On Tuesday, the band posted another teaser on encouraging fans to join them at 5:45 p.m. U.K. time Thursday to be part of a «historic» event.
«The journey is about to begin,» the tweet said.
Join us at 5:45pm (UK time) this Thursday for a special livestream announcement on . The journey is about to begin.https://t.co/BxY6Fk8HpN#ABBAVoyage #ABBA pic..com/MioZavGZ4J
'Abba-tars' will perform new and old songs
The Swedish pop group — made up of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad — is best known for hit singles Dancing Queen and The Winner Takes It All, which were adapted for the musical Mamma Mia! in 1999.
Although the quartet won't appear on-stage for their concert, they will appear as digitized versions of their younger selves. These 'Abba-tars' were created by George Lucas' international effects facility, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).
The idea for the concert has been in the works since 2016.
«We wanted to do it before we are dead,» laughed Andersson.
What do you think of the new look everyone?
Mamma Mia! ABBA makes a comeback | DW | 03.09.2021
The secret is out! After a puzzling ABBA tweet and days of suspense for die-hard fans, the Swedish cult band announced a new album after its 40-year-hiatus, and a stage show to boot.
The album Voyage will have 10 new songs. Two of them, «I Still Have Faith in You» and «Don't Shut Me Down,» can already be streamed. The album comes out on November 5, 2021.
«First we did one song, then several. Then we said: why don't we make a whole album?» said ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus.
Return as holograms
And that's not all. Fans of the legendary pop group can enjoy the quartet on stage again next spring at a show in the specially built stadium in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park — at least virtually.
Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid will not be on stage in person, but as holograms of their younger selves, what they are calling ABBAatars.
The images are amazingly realistic thanks to sophisticated technology. Over the course of five weeks, the band members performed every song to 160 cameras, every movement was recorded to create the virtual images. «The only big problem was that we had to shave our beards,» Björn said.
Earlier, ABBA announced a «historic livestream» on , which had caused a lot of speculation.
In fact, the ABBA fan community had to be patient for a long time. The Swedes first announced a planned «digital entertainment experience» in 2016, but it was repeatedly postponed, most recently because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Reunion was long thought to be impossible
ABBA were part of the «super league of the music business,» writes music historian Carl Magnus Palm in ABBA: Story and Songs Compact.
They have sold at least 380 million albums since their breakthrough at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), some estimates even put it at 500 million records.
After the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid, whose initials make up the group's name, are the most successful band of all time.
Their hits are evergreens. «Waterloo,» «Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)», «The Winner Takes It All» and many other songs from their eight studio albums graced the charts worldwide.
It is ABBA's biggest hit ever. «Dancing Queen» was the second track on their fourth album «Arrival» from 1976. The Swedish band picked up the disco sound that was trending in the US and gave it a Europop twist. «We knew immediately it was going to be massive,» member Agnetha Faltskog said. It became a classic that still brings joy to any dance floor.
The winning entry for the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, this is the song that led to ABBA's worldwide fame. Written specifically for the contest, it was selected as the best song from the competition's history for its 50th anniversary in 2005. Referencing Napoleon's surrender at the Battle of Waterloo, it tells the story of a woman who «surrenders» to the man she loves.
Released in 1975, this was ABBA's first major worldwide hit after «Waterloo.» The Who's Pete Townshend called it «one of the best pop songs ever written.» John Frusciante, Peter Cetera, Chris deBurgh as well as Portishead are among the musicians who later covered the catchy hit.
ABBA's attitude and outrageous costumes had something uniquely naive that rejoices fans of kitsch to this day. These kimonos were famously worn in the video for «Money, Money, Money.
» By the time this single from the album «Arrival» was released in 1976 after «Dancing Queen,» ABBA was definitely very rich.
That didn't matter, as everyone agreed, it «must be funny, in the rich man's world.»
Released in 1976, this single became one of the best-selling tracks of all time. The song tells the story of two veteran freedom fighters from the war between Texas and Mexico meeting again: «There's no regret, If I had to do the same again, I would, my friend, Fernando…» Bjorn Ulvaeus once said he d to write «little stories» with his songs.
«Breaking up is never easy…» This 1977 song is one their first to deal with the break-up of a relationship, years before it would become their own reality. ABBA was composed of two married couples: Agnetha Faltskog was with Bjorn Ulvaeus and Anni-Frid Lyngstad with Benny Andersson. Both of their marriages collapsed at the height of their popularity.
Reflecting the end of a romance, this 1980 track has an aura of sadness that appeared as difficulties in the members' relationships arose. Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog announced they were divorcing in 1979, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson in 1981. However, the band kept touring together. Ulvaeus, who wrote the lyrics, has often claimed the song was not his own experience.
This 1975 chart-topper became the title of a musical ABBA's songs and musical romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep. «Mamma mia» is Italian which literally translates as «My mommy,» but is used to express surprise or excitement.
The title of this 1979 song also borrows from another language, as «chiquitita» is a Spanish term of endearment for a woman meaning «little one.» In contrast to ABBA's disco hits, this track opens with a lullaby feel; its chorus is powerful ear candy, «Chiquitita, you and I know…» The video shows the band members singing with a huge snowman.
This time with a title from French, «Voulez-Vous,» means «do you want» and is a disco track that appeared on the 1979 album of the same name as well as on many compilation albums. ABBA never officially announced that it had dissolved, but the band stopped being active as a group in 1982. Now they've announced they would be releasing their first new material in 35 years.
Elizabeth Grenier (ct)
Despite personal crises between the band members and a hiatus that began in 1982 and lasted for four decades, their music is still a commercial success. To date, ABBA are said to have made about €2 billion ($2.4 billion) in profits.
For a long time, a reunion looked remote, as all four band members categorically rejected getting back together. In 2000, they turned down the offer of a €1 billion world tour.
Media report about a new tour
The #ABBAVoyage tweet fueled the debate about a possible comeback. The band had hinted that new songs were in the making.
In 2018, Björn said ABBA were recording two songs, «I Still Have Faith In You» and «Don't Shut Me Down,» according to Britain's NME magazine. A release date was kept vague until May 2021 when Björn said the new songs would come out this year, NME reported, in turn referring to the Australian Herald Sun.
ABBA were known for their interesting stage outfits
Speculation was rife on social media. Back in 2017, Benny hinted in the Daily Telegraph that the band would go on tour again after a quarter of a century, not in person, but by putting «ABBAtars» on stage — holograms of the band members frozen in their 1970s looks.
The end of a myth?
Despite their break, ABBA never disappeared. Björn and Benny wrote musicals that were celebrated in London's West End or on Broadway in New York.
Mamma Mia! has thrilled more than 60 million visitors since its premiere in 1999 and was turned into a film in 2008 starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. It's considered one of the most successful musicals ever.
With their cover versions, popular performers including Cher and Erasure also put ABBA songs back in the charts time and again.
ABBA songs are big with the LGBTQ community, too, and in 2010, 28 years after their last studio recordings, they were inducted into the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The ABBA legend continues.
This article has been translated from German.