Do they really need an introduction?
ABBA, comprised of Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid, shot to fame in 1974 when they won the Eurovision Song contest with Waterloo. They have become known for their countless smash hits – Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Voulez-Vous, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme – the list goes on and on. Despite the band taking an indefinite break in 1982 after their respective divorces, it was announced recently that after 35 years, ABBA would be returning with new album Voyage and a virtual tour.
As a kid, ABBA were our go-to family road-trip soundtrack. I went to the cinema to see Mamma Mia with my grandma who, despite not being an avid movie fan, knew a classic when she saw one. My friends and I would host dance parties to their music in my living room. The ABBA museum, the Australian festival dedicated solely to their music, the existence of ABBA club nights in the UK – these all conclude that the band have firmly established themselves as an integral part of popular culture.
Abba’s enduring popularity speaks to the universality of their music. While many of the greats are known for targeting a certain demographic or performing within a certain genre, ABBA’s mass appeal has won the hearts of a new generation of fans. The light, nostalgic pop music, combined with the huge popularity of Mamma Mia the Musical and the two subsequent films, have ensured the persistence of their fanbase. And so it seems, off the back of this, that Abba have decided to profit once more off of the collective yearning that their songs produce.
Thank You For The (New) Music
The band’s two new singles, I Still Have Faith in You and Don’t Shut Me Down, have been hugely successful. In classic Abba style, the tunes are sentimental and lilting, remaining very on-brand. However, the nostalgia wavers on the schmaltzy. Their newest music video for I Still Have Faith in You is a drawn- out collection of old photos of the band combined with digital ‘Abba-tars’ of their younger selves performing on stage.
While I understand that tapping into a cultural nostalgia and re-invigorating the past is perhaps a necessary thing when promoting ABBA’s new music, I can’t help but feel that these digital avatars are taking it a step too far. So many fans feel such a deep connection to the band. Surely it would be even more sentimental to see them perform older, to experience the memories and wistfulness that ageing and looking back evoke? The idea of a virtual tour, while perhaps conceived to work around the age and abilities of the group members (all who are in their seventies), hints at the entertainment industry’s current obsession with re-hashing old successes.
Perhaps I am sceptical, and that ABBA’s return will be different. But authenticity, especially when dealing with such a dedicated fanbase, wouldn’t go amiss.
Tickets to their digital tour can be bought here
Read our entertainment column, Onscreen Offscreen, here.