ABBA—you know who they are. The Swedish pop group took the world by storm in the 70s, but the 4 superstar members – Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson –parted ways over 30 years ago, in 1982. The split occurred at the peak of their fame, following 10 years of collaboration. Both couples had, at that moment, divorced, tarnishing the happy memories the group had created together. In the past, the quartet had adamantly denied any possibility of a reunion despite overwhelming demand from fans and rumoured cash incentives. Whilst a complete reunion still seems unlikely, ABBA are undoubtedly making their way back into the spotlight.
Four months ago, at a private gala event at Stockholm, the group performed together for the first time in over three decades. The June performance was a relatively inconspicuous affair (as far as superstar reunions are concerned), celebrating the 50th anniversary of partnership between the two songwriters Ulvaeus and Andersson. In an apparent act of spontaneity, Anni-Frid and Agnetha took to the stage to perform the track ‘Me and I’ from ABBA’s 1980 album, Super Trooper. They were later joined by the second half of the group, transforming an unassuming singalong into a piece of music history. The event sparked great excitement on the internet in anticipation of a possible reunion.
How ABBA has managed to maintain their legacy and popularity after over 30 years of absence is a remarkable feat in itself. Since their last official performance in December 1982, a number of initiatives have been launched to maintain momentum and maximise their revenue. A compilation of the quartet’s biggest hits was released in the album, ABBA Gold, in 1992, which sold almost 30 million copies across the globe. In 1999, the stage production Mamma Mia! opened in London and featured many of the band’s most successful tracks. It went on to make $2 billion worldwide. Once adapted for film in 2008, it became the highest-grossing musical of all time. Despite their breakup, ABBA are evidently never far from the public eye.
The band will soon partake in a digital entertainment project to be launched in 2018. ABBA are set to collaborate with their label, Universal Music Group, and music manager Simon Fuller (who rose to fame through his creation of American Idol and management of the Spice Girls). The plan has been described as a “ground-breaking venture that will utilise the very latest in digital and virtual-reality technology” which is designed to “enable a new generation of fans to see, hear, and feel ABBA in a way previously unimagined.”
Benny Andersson worded it as a “time capsule that captures the essence of who we were.” This seems to be a critical point of interest for the band, who are determined to “maintain the authenticity and integrity of [their] original vision.” Inspired by the “limitless possibility of technology”, the group appear to appreciate their involvement in the creation of something new and innovative. After constant requests for a reunion, Lyngstad hopes that this new ABBA creation will “excite them as much as it excites [her].”
Whilst specific details concerning the nature of the project are unknown, the very thought of being able to relive some of the excitement and naïve enjoyment that symbolised ABBA is thrilling fans across the globe. Whether or not we will ever again experience ABBA performing live is purely speculation right now, but they have given us a legacy of unique musical genius and will live forever in the history of the performing arts.