They proudly present their fan souvenirs from the 1970s online, indulge in memories of the old concerts and post photos of their favorite band – fans of the biggest Swedish music group of all time couldn’t be more excited: “A lifelong dream comes true”, for example a user. Or: “I can’t put my anticipation into words.” The tweet with which ABBA evokes this euphoric echo is actually just one thing: very puzzling.
A picture with four bright gold rings on a black background, underneath the signature “02.09.21 – Join us at #ABBAVoyage” (“Join us on #ABBAVoyage”) with a reference to the website of the same name. What does this enigmatic message mean? A comeback of the band, 40 years after the official end? New songs or even an entire tour, as fans suspect? And if so, what would the band’s return mean for the music world?
Reunification unthinkable for a long time
ABBA belonged to the “super league of the music business”, writes the music historian Carl Magnus Palm in his book “ABBA: Story and Songs Compact”. They have sold at least 380 million albums since their breakthrough at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. Some estimates go as high as 500 million records. After the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid, whose first letters make up the group name, are the most successful band of all time.
Her hits are long-running: “Waterloo”, “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)”, “The Winner Takes It All” and many other songs from their eight studio albums reached the international charts. And even after the band members had a crisis in their private lives and they took a “break” in 1982, which continues to this day, they remained commercially successful with their music. ABBA is said to have earned around two billion euros to date.
A symbol of ABBA: flashy costumes
Nevertheless, for a long time it did not look as if a reunion was even an option: All band members categorically rejected it. In 2000, the four even waived the offer to go on another world tour for around one billion euros.
Media reports: The new tour should now be set
Now the tweet about #ABBAVoyage is fueling the discussion about a comeback. And in fact, the band has been suggesting time and time again that new songs are in the making. In 2018 Björn had become specific: Currently they are recording two songs together – “I Still Have Faith In You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” – in the studio, quoted the British culture magazine NME. However, references to a publication date were only vaguely worded for a long time. In May 2021 Björn said the new songs would be coming this year, NME reported again, citing the Australian daily Herald Sun. So is the “Voyage” project about new songs – or is it about more?
More speculation is circulating online: In 2017 it was Benny who suggested in the Daily Telegraph that the band would go on tour again after a quarter of a century. So-called “ABBAtars” would then be on stage – holograms of the band members in the optics of the 1970s should perform instead of the group made of flesh and blood.
The couples Björn and Agnetha (left) and Benny and Anni-Frid in 1976 – still happily united
The British tabloid Sun currently refers to a source not named and writes exclusively that “ABBAVoyage” is actually supposed to be a series of shows in which ABBA will re-enter the stage with the help of hologram technology. At the start of the tour next spring, there are already construction plans for a small stadium in London. On September 2nd, the band wants to officially announce their hologram project. The Sun also says that with “Voyage” ABBA would also present a new documentary film and new songs. That would be a real sensation: not just for the fans, but for the entire music world.
The end of a myth?
Despite the “break”, ABBA never disappeared. Björn and Benny wrote musicals that enjoyed success in London’s West End and on New York’s Broadway. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” has delighted over 60 million visitors since its premiere in 1999, was filmed with Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan and is considered one of the most successful musicals of all. With their cover versions, famous artists such as Cher and the band “Erasure” helped the ABBA songs repeatedly into the international charts.
The musical “Mamma Mia!” was filmed so successfully that a second part came out in 2018
And the LGBTIQ community has found timeless icons in the group, whose flamboyant hymns are not missing at any scene party. So it is not surprising that ABBA was inducted into the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010, 28 years after their last recording together in the studio.
The four Swedes are a true myth of pop. Do you need a comeback? Meanwhile the artists have aged, are in their 70s. And that is exactly what could be a problem, Björn suspected in 2013: “I want people to remember us as the young, dynamic group,” said the ABBA member on the German show “Wetten dass …?”. It remains to be seen whether the legendary, energetic image of the past disappears when new songs are released and whether the band will then be able to build on old successes.
Perhaps “ABBAVoyage” will simply reinterpret the familiar image of ABBA, much like the musical “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” and the new editions of their songs have been successful for decades. Whatever the band is planning: the fans are ready for news from their idols.