They’re back! Forty years after going their separate ways, ABBA, the Swedish supergroup who became a worldwide phenomenon, has reunited to release new music and to promote a long-planned virtual concert.
The band, which has sold over 400 million albums, released two new songs on 3 September; I Still Have Faith in You, and Don’t Shut Me Down, both of which appear on their upcoming album Voyage, set for release on 5 November.
Band members Bjorn Ulvaeus, 76, Benny Andersson, 74, Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad, 75, and Agnetha Fältskog, 71, had rejected past offers to regroup, including an offer in 2000 which was rumoured to be in excess of one billion dollars, for a 100 show world tour.
ABBA On Sydney Harbour Bridge
As part of the global promotion for the release of the two new tracks and upcoming CGI concert event, avatars of the four band members were projected onto the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with a lighting display spanning across its iconic arches.
The display was part of a larger promotional campaign, with other events being held in Tokyo, London, New York, Stockholm, Rio, Reykjavik, Berlin and Cape Town.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled for Sydney to be part of our global album launch. Sydney has always been a special city to us and we have wonderful memories of the time we spent performing in Australia,” the band said in a statement.
‘Why don’t we just do a whole album?’
While ABBA waited decades to get back together in the studio, it never faded into obscurity. In fact, the band continued to hold a powerful sway over fans, and amassed even more, based on the popularity of the musical Mamma Mia, and a greatest hits collection, ABBA Gold, which has sold over 30 million copies.
The band, which formed in 1972, soared to immense and enduring popularity after their song Waterloo won the Eurovision song contest in 1974.
ABBA has also recently ventured into social media, recently creating a TikTok account which has 897K followers. The account amassed millions of streams within the first 24 hours.
Speaking of the band’s reunion in a taped message, Andersson said, “First it was just two songs, then we said, ‘Maybe we should do, I don’t know, a few others? What do you say, girls?’ They said yes, then I said why don’t we just do a whole album?”
Despite decades having passed, and the strife which ended the marriages of the two couples in the band, the reunion was a happy one.
Getting Back Together In The Studio
“When we got back together in the studio I had no idea what to expect… but Benny’s recording studio is such a friendly and safe environment, and before I knew it I was really enjoying myself. I can hardly believe that finally, the moment has come to share this with the world,” said Fältskog on Instagram.
“Those first sessions back in 2018 were such fun and when Benny called and asked if I’d consider singing some more I jumped at it!” Lyngstad said on Instagram. “And what songs!! My respect and love go out to these exceptionally talented, truly genius songwriters! Such joy it was to work with the group again. I am so happy with what we have made and I dearly hope our fans feel the same.”
In an Instagram post, Ulvaeus and Andersson spoke of their admiration of Fältskog and Lyngstad.
“They’re such amazing singers those two, I was completely floored by the way they delivered those songs,” said Ulvaeus. “They’re true musicians, totally unimpressed by pop star glamour but still having a great time being creative in a recording studio. The ‘Voyage’ project has injected new life into us in more ways than one.”
“It’s hard for me to say what the most joyful thing for me with this project. If it’s the involvement in creating the concert together with everyone or being back in the studio together again after 40 years,” said Andersson. “I think hearing Frida and Agnetha singing again is hard to beat.”
In a YouTube livestream event watched by over 200,000 people, Andersson and Ulvaeus introduced the new songs and talked about the creative process of the band’s upcoming concert residency.
“The bonds that we have were so clear,” Ulvaeus said. “It was great. It all came rushing back in a matter of seconds… We went into the studio knowing that if we didn’t think it was up to scratch, we would never release it. So we’re proud of it.”
The Voyage Concert
“We’ve done as good as we could at our age,” said Andersson.
The “Voyage” concert, featuring the digital ‘ABBAtars,’ will be held at a 3000 seat purpose-built ABBA Arena in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, starting 27 May 2022. Tickets for the concert will go on sale 7 September.
“When you come to the arena you will have the four of us together with an absolutely glorious 10-piece band,” Andersson said. “And even if not in the flesh, we will be right there, thanks to the work of the creative team and ILM.”
The concert, which has been in the planning stages since 2016, will include 22 songs and the band members, who are now “old sensible people,” according to Ulvaeus, will appear as they did in 1979.
First new Music After Four Decades
“There’s an old saying in the music industry. You should not leave more than 40 years between albums,” said Ulvaeus.
“It’s about realizing that it’s inconceivable to be where we are,” Ulvaeus said. “No imagination could dream up that, to release a new album after 40 years and still be the best of friends, and still be enjoying each other’s company, and have a total loyalty. Who has experienced that? Nobody.”
Andersson, still seems incredulous over the longevity of the world’s greatest party band. “It’s somewhat incomprehensible…we haven’t done anything together for 40 years but still it seems we’re still around. The music is played everywhere…I never actually understood it. I’m very happy and grateful for it obviously…it’s good stuff.”