Updated: September 7, 2021 10:02:39 am
In 2020, Covid-19 brought the world together in anxiety and in 2021, Abba has brought it together in nostalgia and renewed anticipation. The Swedish pop group, which disbanded in 1982, has dropped two new singles, I Still Have Faith in You and Don’t Shut Me Down, both of which zoomed to the top of the charts. A new studio album,Voyage, is set to release on November 5, and fans are already buying tickets to the concert in London next year which will feature Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad as virtual avatars of their 1979 selves.
Incredibly, in its heyday, the group’s music was often derided as kitschy, disco fluff, with one critic famously dismissing Abba’s Greatest Hits Vol 2 — which featured fan favourite single Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! — with the words, “We have met the enemy and they are them”. In all, Abba’s reign lasted only six years, from its breakthrough albums Greatest Hits and Arrival (both in 1976) to its eighth — and until now last — studio album, The Visitors (1981).
And yet, few musical acts can boast of Abba’s cross-generational appeal. Its fans range from those who remember the day in 1974 when it won the Eurovision contest with Waterloo as well as youngsters who first heard Abba’s songs in the two Mamma Mia! movies (2008 and 2018). Artistes as diverse as The Sex Pistols and Elvis Costello have cited Abba as a musical influence, bringing new fans into the fold with cover versions of classics such as Dancing Queen and The Winner Takes It All. And when the group joined TikTok last week, it got a million subscribers within five days. It’s almost as if the last 40 Abba-less years never happened.
This editorial first appeared in the print edition on September 7, 2021 under the title ‘Thank you for the music’.
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