The Swedish iconic band ABBA announced their return to pop music with their new album “Voyage,” set to be released on November 5. The group shared two new tracks off of the album to accompany their announcement, “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down.”
Voyage marks the group’s first new album in 40 years. ABBA’s last album was “The Visitors,” released in November 1981, before the band parted ways in 1982. The band released a goodbye song addressed to their fans entitled “Thank You for the Music.”
The group reunited onstage for the first time in 2018 at a private party celebrating their 50th anniversary, where they announced that they had worked on new material including “I Still Have Faith in You.”
ABBA have been planning a form of digital concert experience long before the pandemic hit in 2020. The group had started developing a virtual reality experience in 2016 with American Idol creator Simon Fuller.
Fuller’s business had been “developing hyper-realistic digital humans in the field of entertainment.” He said that, “We are exploring a new technological world, with virtual reality and artificial intelligence at the forefront, that will allow us to create new forms of entertainment and content we couldn’t have previously imagined.”
But the band has finally found its spotlight for the virtual return they’ve been preparing for the last five years.
On May 27, 2022, the Scandinavian quartet will play the ABBA Voyage concert in the form of holograms. The virtual versions of original members Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Fältskog, and Björn Kristian Ulvaeus will be accompanied by a 10-piece live band at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
ABBA’s “Mamma Mia!” and Greek Culture
Greek culture is woven throughout ABBA’s long, illustrious history. The four members of ABBA originated as two sets of couples, with Fältskog married to Ulvaeus, and Lyngstad to Andersson. All of the members had met each other in the burgeoning Swedish pop-rock scene of the ’60s. But it was not until the two couples took a vacation to Cyprus in 1970 that the four decided they should form their own group, and ABBA was born.
In 1999, English playwright Catherine Johnson worked with Andersson and Ulvaeus to develop the jukebox musical “Mamma Mia!” centered around ABBA’s greatest hits. “Mamma Mia!,” which is set on a fictional Greek island called Kalokairi, tells the story of a young woman preparing for her wedding day with the rest of her family, while also trying to solve the mystery of her biological father’s true identity.
The musical centers around the taverna owned by the main character Sophie’s mother, Donna. This iconic Greek setting was so memorable in Mamma Mia! that Ulveaus later opened up his own taverna in Stockholm, Sweden.
Mamma Mia! was hugely successful on stage, with over 65 million people having seen the show. The musical has grossed $4 billion worldwide since its first performance in 1999 and inspired a film adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Pierce Brosnan.
The show still has productions running in London’s historic West End, where it is currently the seventh-longest running show performed at the famous British theater district. The Broadway version closed on September 12, 2015 after a nearly 15-year run, making it amongst the top ten longest running production’s in Broadway’s history.