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Mamma Mia! Is ABBA headed for a comeback after 40 years? | DW | 02.09.2021

They proudly present souvenirs from the 1970s, reminisce about concerts and post photos of their favorite band online. Die-hard fans of the greatest Swedish music group of all time couldn’t be more excited: It’s “a lifelong dream come true” for some; others write they “don’t have words” for their excitement.

A puzzling ABBA tweet has fans on edge.

It shows a picture of four bright golden rings on a black background, and the words “02.09.21 — Join us at #ABBAVoyage” with a reference to the website of the same name. Does it hint at the band’s comeback 40 years after the official end? Or is it about new songs or a tour, as fans suspect? What would the return of the band mean for the music world?

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 in 1982 — it has lasted to this very day — 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 has fueled the debate about a possible comeback. In fact, the band has recently 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.

ABBA, two emn and two women on stage

ABBA were known for their interesting stage outfits

Speculation is and has been 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 Sun referred to an unnamed source, saying ABBAVoyage is a show with ABBA onstage using hologram technology. The British tabloid also mentioned plans to build a small stadium in London for the start of the tour next spring.

The end of a myth?

Despite their hiatus 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.

 MAMMA MIA! film poster

‘Mamma Mia!’ — the 2008 film is based on the successful musical

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 four Swedes are pop legends and the artists are in their 70s, so do they really need a comeback? “I want people to remember us as the young, dynamic group,” Björn pointed out in 2013 on popular German TV show, Wetten dass…?.

Perhaps ABBAVoyage will simply reinterpret the familiar image of ABBA, much like Mamma Mia! and the new versions of their songs. Whatever the band is planning — the fans are ready.

This article has been translated from German.


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