© 2021 WNIJ and WNIU
Northern Public Radio
801 N 1st St.
DeKalb, IL 60115
815-753-9000
Northern Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

After Taking A Break In 1982, ABBA Is Back With New Music

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now news of needed sunshine in the form of Swedish power pop.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WATERLOO")

ABBA: (Singing) Waterloo - couldn't escape if I wanted to.

MARTIN: Oh, my gosh. The band is getting back together, y'all. ABBA is officially reuniting after nearly 40 years. The group broke up in 1982 after creating some of the most diabolically successful earworms of the 20th century.

NPR's arts reporter, Neda Ulaby, hopes ABBA's second time around is more than just another legacy band cashing in on nostalgia.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Even the band sounds surprised.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BJORN ULVAEUS: A new album after 40 years is absolutely incredible.

ULABY: That's Bjorn Ulvaeus, one of ABBA's two songwriters, in a video promoting "Voyage," the new album coming out this fall.

This project's been in the works for years. But ABBA resisted a reunion for a remarkably long time. The group was offered a billion dollars to reunite by an American consortium, or so said Benny Andersson, ABBA's other songwriter, to NPR in 2009.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

BENNY ANDERSSON: We said no because it's good that the people out there remember us as we were when they listened to the music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MAMMA MIA")

ABBA: (Singing) Mamma mia, here I go again.

ULABY: ABBA's hits from their 10 years together, starting in the mid-1970s, only gained momentum as they age. "Mamma Mia" the movie, based on a jukebox musical, and its sequel were both blockbusters. And ABBA's grip on today's culture even extends to enthusiasm for the Eurovision Song Contest, which it won way back in 1974.

Scholar Karen Tongson says, the band was always more about the music than the musicians.

KAREN TONGSON: So there's a bit of mystery that's left hanging over ABBA, I think.

ULABY: So why reunite now? The answer is technology. A few years ago, the band decided to film a concert using motion-capture avatars that will be digitally endowed with youth.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I STILL HAVE FAITH IN YOU")

ABBA: (Singing) Do I have it in me?

ULABY: Despite that illusion, the two new songs ABBA has released so far reflects the experience of four musicians in their 70s who have endured heartbreak and divorce - from each other - phenomenal success and a timely message of endurance.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I STILL HAVE FAITH IN YOU")

ABBA: (Singing) Do I have it in me?

ULABY: What's maybe most catchy about ABBA is its unshakable confidence in the capacity for human joy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I STILL HAVE FAITH IN YOU")

ABBA: (Singing) We still have it in us.

ULABY: Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I STILL HAVE FAITH IN YOU")

ABBA: (Singing) New spirit has arrived. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.