Remakes, reboots, and reunions: if it’s good enough for Television and Movies, it’s good enough for Music. After every old sitcom is planning a return, and old movie franchise like Star Wars are now spinning off sequels and prequels at an alarming rate, musicians like Abba want in on the act. This should not be surprising, given that music has always the entertainment industry’s original reunion-happy entity.
Abba has announced that they have recorded their first new music since 1983. The Swedish band had nine #1 hits in the United Kingdom and around the world, have recorded two songs. Bands notoriously break up and make-up, so it’s somewhat shocking that it has taken the four-piece so long to take the plunge. They will not be touring together; instead music will be performed by avatars.
The band issued a statement explaining the decision. “The decision to go ahead with the exciting Abba avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence. We all felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did. And it was like time had stood still and we had only been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!”
The disco dancing queens will first release the song “I Still Have Faith in You,” which will be released along with a television special that will air in December.
The statement concluded: “We may have come of age, but the song is new. And it feels good.”
Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus discussed the specs of this mysterious project, saying that the TV special will be produced by the BBC and NBC, which will create avatars to perform the music. Interestingly, the band was purposefully “de-aged” so that they look as if the musicians had not aged a day since 1979. The avatars will reportedly go on a world tour, but what that will look like and whether anyone will want to watch it remains to be seen.
Abba won the Eurovision contest in 1974 with the song “Waterloo.” The band was made up of two couples, Ulvaeus and Agnetha Fältskog, and Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, who were all popular musicians in Sweden.
Abba’s biggest hits include “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “Dancing Queen” and “The Name of the Game.” Although critics have always trashed Abba, their popularity has really never wanted, even after the disco era was panned. The band spawned a musical, which ran on Broadway and in the West End, which spawned a movie adaptation (which recently spawned a sequel, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, which is out this summer).
Abba split after the two couples divorced. For years people have offered them significant money to perform again. There was a report in 2000 that they turned down $1 billion to perform a single concert. Ulvaeus had treated the idea with disdain, saying in 2014 “you will never see us on stage again … we don’t need the money, for one thing.”
However, the scarcity of Abba has made their reunion one of music’s biggest stories. Numerous bands have reformed and released new music, or set aside old grudges (The Eagles) to have huge worldwide tours. Outside of the impossible-dream of having the Beatles reunite, a new Abba may be the biggest reunion that music could muster up.
Now comes the hard part: making music, and an avatar project, that people will actually like. It’s a risk for the band, which has evidently decided against the easy money of a nostalgia tour.
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