Mamma mia, here we go again! ABBA to reunite for virtual concert residency, first album in 40 years
Mamma mia, here we go again! Fans are about to gimme, gimme, gimme ABBA all their money, money, money, as the Eurovision-winning pop stars have just announced that they are about to release their first studio album in 40 years.
The 10-track album, ABBA Voyage, will be released on Nov. 5, and the new songs will also be performed during a virtual concert residency that will open at a custom-built arena in East London on May 27, 2022. The “revolutionary” show, also titled “ABBA Voyage,” will run six nights a week and will feature ABBA holograms — cleverly known as “ABBAtars” — and a 10-piece live band playing 22 of the Swedish superstars’ greatest hits.
The ABBAtars were designed by Industrial Light and Magic (the visual effects company founded by George Lucas), and more than 850 people employed motion-capture technology to recreate band members Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s “every mannerism and every motion” from when they were “in their prime.”
"Agnetha, Frida, Benny, and Bjorn got onstage in front of 160 cameras and almost as many VFX geniuses, and they performed every song in this show, to perfection, over five weeks," producer Ludvig Andersson explained during a globally streamed press conference that took place Thursday at the AcerlorMittal Orbit in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Two songs off ABBA Voyage — the group’s first full-length LP since 1981’s The Visitors, which came out as the quartet's two married couples were getting divorced — premiered during Thursday’s press event. The effervescent “Don't Shut Me Down” is a classic ABBA story-song in the vein of “The Day Before You Came,” while the earnest, nostalgic piano ballad “I Still Have Faith In You” is an ode to the bond that the four bandmates still share after all these years. A particularly goosebump-raising moment of that song is when Fältskog and Lyngstad trill in their signature heavenly harmonies, “You asked me not to leave/Well, here I am again/And I love you still.”
Ulvaeus, who along with Andersson attended the London press conference in person, said the latter track “is about realizing it is inconceivable to be where we are. No imagination can dream up that. To release an album after 40 years and still be the best of friends and enjoying each other’s company and still have total loyalty —who has experienced that? Nobody.” A preview of ABBAtars can be seen in the new music video for “I Still Have Faith In You.”
At the press conference, Ulvaeus and Andersson explained that they hadn’t planned to write and record an entire new ABBA album, but after they began work on the digital concert in 2018, everything gelled. “At first it was just two songs, and then we said, ‘Well, maybe we should do a few others,’” said Andersson.
Fältskog, who did not attend the conference, added in a statement, “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!” Lyngstad also stated, “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! 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.”
“They’re such amazing singers, those two,” Ulvaeus said of Fältskog and Lyngstad. “I was completely floored by the way they delivered those songs. 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. So again, thanks for waiting! We hope to see you in the 'ABBA Arena,' and yes — see — because we have infused a good deal of our souls into those avatars. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re back.”
ABBA have sold more than 400 million albums and singles over the past half-century, making them one of the most successful pop acts of all time. They have always rejected offers to officially reform (including a reported $1 billion offer to do a 100-show world tour in 2000), and they did not perform when they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2010 (only Lyngstad and Andersson attended that ceremony). However, they have been teasing a reunion of some sort since June 2016, when all four members appeared at a private party in Stockholm and performed “The Way Old Friends Do.”
The full tracklisting for ABBA Voyage is below. Tickets for the band's virtual London concerts go on sale Sept. 7 at abbavoyage.com.
I Still Have Faith in You
When You Danced With Me
Don’t Shut Me Down
Just a Notion
I Can Be That Woman
Keep an Eye on Dan
No Doubt About It
Ode to Freedom
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