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The ABBA reunion is cause for celebration

ABBA is a band probably bigger than the Beatles (and that’s no exaggeration). The iconic Swedish pop group from the 1970s, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni Frid Lyngstad topped charts and created iconic sounds. Best known for winning Eurovision in Brighton in 1974 with the tremendous song ‘Waterloo’, their legacy has inspired fans over generations. They have always managed to meaningfully connect with millions of people by providing a sense of belonging and community. 

This is despite much hardship facing the band. During the band’s most popular years, it contained two marriages, both of which sadly failed. Having disbanded fully by 1982, there was always a suspicion about whether they would really return. Their songs would always remain iconic, regardless of whether there was new content. But it is indeed a testament to their success  that a new generation of fans so desire new music.  

Why is it that ABBA are so popular? I have written about this before for The Boar and I think it fundamentally comes down to the fact the songs are catchy ear worm tunes. Once you hear one of their tunes, it is simply impossible to get it out of your head. ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Mamma Mia’ and  ‘Super Trooper’ are among the songs it is impossible to evade from your memory. And why would you want to? The tunes are utterly joyful. Indeed, ABBA demonstrated their expertise with more sombre and serious songs in their later years, which effectively referenced their personal hardships they encountered.  

So what are the new songs like? Given everything we know about ABBA, only the highest of standards would be acceptable. Anything less would be second best, something that, above all,  would be regarded as a stain on ABBA’s legacy. Fans would like to think the fantastic quartet were skilled enough only to release a new album if they thought it was worthwhile. While everyone has  enjoyed Mamma Mia! The Musical since 1999 and two fantastic films, any new song material would have to be exceptional. ABBA have far too much wealth to ever need to release new material for its inevitable financial benefit.

40 years may have aged the artists, but the quality of their words and songs remains exceptional 

And that is precisely what they have decided to do. ABBA have reunited for the first time in four decades to release Voyage, an album of brand new songs including a Christmas song, in  November. There will also be a concert experience in London in May 2022 with visual holograms of the singers in the Olympic park. Two songs: ‘I Still Have Faith in You’ and ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’  have been released. But what are they like?  

Going onto YouTube to listen to the songs, I was nervous. I really like ABBA’s songs and was fearful that the new material wouldn’t live up to those heady expectations ABBA set for themselves.  I needn’t have been concerned. The two songs released are innovative, heartfelt and emotional:  just what we would expect from the band.  

‘I Still Have Faith in You’ is a moving, empowering and delicate piece, in the classic ABBA heartfelt style. The YouTube video is a series of clips and photos from ABBA’s heydays of fame. It demonstrates that we as fans should have faith in ABBA as a band. Alongside this, it feels like  ABBA are questioning themselves. Do they have the potential for excellence? They most certainly do.

‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ is a similarly melodic piece, but seems faster paced. The vocals and instruments are excellent, weaving in and out of one another with great effect. It just sounds like an  ABBA song that could have been recorded 40 years ago. That is almost the greatest compliment that can be paid – 40 years may have aged the artists, but the quality of their words and songs remains exceptional.  

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