ABBA announces comeback, album and London concert

Published : September 04, 2021 16:39 IST

The Swedish pop legend is back. Photo: Industrial Light And/PA Media/dpa/picture alliance

After a 40-year hiatus, ABBA is back together again with a new album, "Voyage." The Swedish pop group is also planning a show in London.

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 Twitter, 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.

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.

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.