Something Old, Something New, ABBA!

by Kevin Burton

   ABBA is back. Are you ready for this? Did you miss them?

   The Swedish supergroup thrived in the 70s with hits such as “Dancing Queen,” “Fernando” and “Mamma Mia.” For the first time in 39 years they will release new music Friday, according to published sources.

   Maybe you’re down with ABBA from the 70s, but not ABBA in their 70s?  Well, ABBA has planned what I think is a fan-friendly twist on the whole geriatric pop star thing.

   “ABBA are making a sensational comeback with new music and a magical hologram show,” says the British tabloid The Sun.  “The Swedish quartet are preparing to launch a show called Abba Voyage, featuring ‘Abba-tars’ of their younger selves beamed on stage performing their classic hits.”

   It’s nothing new to see older musicians having another bite of the apple so to speak. But this Abba-tar thing is a revelation! 

   Projecting their youthful selves onto a screen as opposed to bopping on stage as what we could call “The Grandmas and the Grandpas, to borrow from an American act, allows us to summon up our youthful selves, at least in our minds.

   For which I say, “thank you for the music” and “thank you for a fleeting whiff of my youth.”

   Sign me up for the Voyage!

   “The quartet – Agnetha Faltskog, Anna-Frid Lyngstad, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson – returned to the studio in 2018, promising two new songs later that year,” wrote the BBC on its website.

    “Those tracks, I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down, have been repeatedly delayed – and the band are now planning to release five tracks to thank fans for their patience.”

   An ABBA Voyage website was launched Aug. 26, featuring a cryptic image of four glowing planets accompanied by the date 2 September, according to The Sun.

   “Abba Voyage will feature a new documentary-style film, which follows their comeback, from making music to the creation of a purpose-built theatre in East London for the holograms show, which is due to open next May,” The Sun writes. “Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid will all be there on the opening night.”

   Speaking to the BBC during the early stages of the show’s production, Ulvaeus said the idea had been presented to the band by Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller.

   “He came to Stockholm and he presented this idea to us that we could make identical digital copies of ourselves of a certain age and that those copies could then go on tour and they could sing our songs, you know, and lip sync, Ulvaeus said. “ I’ve seen this project half-way through and it’s already mind-boggling.”

   Filming for the project reportedly took place at London’s Ealing Studios last year, the BBC wrote.

   “Formed in 1972, Abba were essentially a Swedish supergroup, consisting of songwriters Ulvaeus and Andersson from The Hep Stars and singers Faltskog and Lyngstad, who had scored success as solo artists,” the BBC wrote. “But their joint project completely eclipsed their previous work.”

   “After winning the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo in 1974, the band sold almost 400 million singles and albums around the world. Mamma Mia!, the musical based on their hits and produced by Ulvaeus and Andersson, has also been seen by more than 50 million people.”

   “During their most successful period, the band survived marriage break-ups between Ulvaeus and Faltskog, and Lyngstad and Andersson, but they finally called it a day in 1983,” the BBC wrote.

   “Their final recording sessions, in 1982, produced the hits Under Attack and The Day Before You Came, which were featured on the compilation album The Singles.

Their last public performance came three years later, on the Swedish version of TV show This Is Your Life, which honored their manager Stig Anderson.’

   ABBA has sold more than 500 million records worldwide, including the ABBA Gold tape my computer table.

   Tomorrow on Page 7, my top ten favorite ABBA songs and various facts about them.

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