Thank Them For The Music!

This group is back to creating harmony.

Sep 13, 2021
Thank Them For The Music! | This group is back to creating harmony.

If there’s one iconic pop band from the 1970s and early 1980s that has epitomized positive energy and inspiration, shared emotions that unify us humans, and is adored by millions across generations, it has to be ABBA!

So it’s hardly surprising that fans across the world are thrilled at the news of the November release of “Voyage!” Abba’s first studio recording in nearly 40 years, and their future-focused avatar concert planned for May 2022.

Swedish icons with a global appeal
The four voices of Agnetha, Frida, Björn and Benny that are ABBA, have been singing in an upbeat way about universal themes like the love of music and dance, and, of course,  romance, on a truly global level since their 1974 Eurovision song contest win. Hits such as "Waterloo," "Dancing Queen" and "Take A Chance On Me," sold more than 385 million albums.

After they disbanded in 1982, right up to when they returned to performing in 2016 and more recently, their well-crafted tunes and distinct, refreshing singing style have given them enduring appeal. 

A clear example of this is the hit musical, “Mamma Mia”, a title taken from the group’s 1975 chart topper, which is based on ABBA songs. Since the musical came out in 1999, it has been seen by over 65 million people worldwide in 50 productions in 16 different languages. There have been two film adaptations, in 2008 and 2018. Then there’s Björn Again”, various touring tributes to ABBA that started in Australia in the late 1980s

A next-gen following
The comeback is exciting younger people who weren’t even born the first time around! People who feel that it’s the good news that a world coping with a global Pandemic needs. A recent BBC article entitled 'Abba saved 2021' - why the Swedish band has not gone out of fashion shares comments like "IM CRYING WITH HAPPINESS RIGHT NOW"!

These are among the comments posted by TikTok users, typically aged under 30, since the Swedish pop legends joined the youthful social network. In less than five days on this network, the group reportedly attracted almost one million followers, and posted videos enjoying tens of millions of views. 

ABBA songs also surpass 17 million monthly listeners on music streaming site, Spotify, and young listeners are the biggest fans say Spotify: "It was a wonderful surprise to find out that 18-24 year olds are the heaviest streamers of Abba," Spotify UK's head of music, Sulinna Ong, told the BBC. 

It may be that this next-gen fan base was weaned on ABBA music by their parents. But this interest may also be because musicians from diverse musical genres including Madonna, Shania Twain, S Club 7, Philip Glass, and Erasure have continued to pay tribute to the group by sampling ABBA music in their own hits as whosampled documents.

And the response to ABBA’s new music so far? 
While the album is only out in the first week of November, two songs,  “I Still Have Faith In You”, a song about the group’s personal journey to reuniting, and Don’t Shut Me Down“, a message to their audience to remember they aren’t the same people they were 40 years ago, can already be streamed.

Critics and the public has been overwhelmingly positive: 

“The two new songs feel just right – reflective, mature and uplifting” says one of excited Guardian readers quoted in an article built around reader responses to the ABBA comeback. 

As the Guardian’s Jude Rogers says in her enthusiastic yet perceptive review of these two new songs,  they areprecision-honed to wallop emotion out of the listener (if you’re willing, that is: if you’ve always been immune to ABBA’s charms, these songs won’t melt your cold heart.)

If preorders of the album are anything to go by, ABBA’s new album is set for success. The UK’s Independent reported that the group’s eagerly anticipated album had broken Universal Music records for the biggest ever pre-order.

The concert with “ABBAtars” is adding to the hype
Fans are already reserving tickets to the concerts in London next year, which will feature the four ABBA singers as virtual avatars of their 1979 selves.

These digital versions of ABBA’s singers, holograms of their younger selves that the group calls “ABBAtars”,  will feature alongside a 10-piece live band at a venue in the city’s Olympic park, called the ABBA Arena. This 3,000-seat hexagonal structure will be able to be transported and repurposed in other locales following ABBA Voyage’s London dates.

Perhaps the choice of ageless avatars is an appropriate honor to the timelessness of ABBA’s appeal.  So while the original quartet of [naturally ageing] singers will watch the show seated in the audience, their digital likenesses can perform with the vitality the band is known for.

The Independent reports that ABBA members worked with Star Wars creator George Lucas’s studio to develop the digital representations of themselves using “revolutionary” technology

Deutsche Welle adds that this technology makes the images amazingly realistic but that the hyperrealism is also thanks to the band members who performed every song to 160 cameras over five weeks to enable the team to record every movement to perfect their virtual images.

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ABBA felt driven, The Architect’s Newspaper reports, to record again by this futuristic performance: 

“To tell the truth, the main inspiration to record again comes from our involvement in creating the strangest and most spectacular concert you could ever dream of. We’re going to be able to sit back in an audience and watch our digital selves perform our songs on a stage in a custom-built arena in London next spring. Weird and wonderful!”

And ABBA have a heartfelt message for their old and new fans: “To all of you who patiently have followed us in some way or another these past decades: Thank you for waiting – it’s time for a new journey to begin.”

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Daphne has a background in editing, writing and global trends. She is inspired by trends seeing more people care about sharing and protecting resources, enjoying experiences over products and celebrating their unique selves. Making the world a better place has been a constant motivation in her work.