ABBA New Recordings Update: ‘It Was Fantastic in the Studio’

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Abba (L-R) Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus

Plenty of classic rock bands have reunited over the years, so why not one of the world’s most successful pop bands?

For fans of ABBA, that decades-long wait will require a bit more patience. But there’s good news ahead: the promise, since 2018, of two new songs, now sounds like it will be as many as five new tracks. The bad news: they won’t be released until autumn 2021.

Related: It’s on! Details here

The update came from Björn Ulvaeus via an interview with The New York Times, that was published on May 7, 2021. The musician told the paper’s Ben Sisario, “Benny [Andersson] and I have written some new songs, and there will be some new music from Abba released this autumn. But I’m forbidden to say anything more about it. I’m sorry. I would have told you everything, but I can’t. All I can say is that it was fantastic in the studio because it was like yesterday. It was so strange coming into that studio and the four of us looking at each other and thinking, ‘What is this?’ It all came rushing back.”

It follows a July 21, 2019 interview with Geoff Lloyd, co-host of the Reasons to Be Cheerful podcast. Lloyd says he spoke to Ulvaeus for an hour. The musician explained that the pandemic had forced the postponement of both the new music as well as the much-delayed launch of the group’s hologram tour to next year.

ABBA announced on April 27, 2018, that “after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio.”

Two new songs – “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” – were expected in December 2018 for a TV special and a subsequent avatar tour. In September 2018, Abba announced that the new recordings were being pushed to 2019.

Then, on January 21, 2019 a representative for the group told the trade paper, Variety, that everything is being moved again. “Hopefully this fall,” the rep said.

At that time, Variety also relayed an interview where the group’s Benny Andersson says Abba may record a third song. “We had such a good time, we really, really did, we were all back to where we ended, having fun. It was just like no time had passed, we all felt that and we were all happy about feeling that.”

On April 3, 2019, Ulvaeus reiterated to a Danish newspaper that new music should be coming “in September or October.”

Two months later, in early June, Ulvaeus was vague when he spoke to a U.K. radio station. “Yes there will be a new song, a couple of new songs coming,” he said. “But I’ve been saying this for such a long time… I’m not saying when anymore. I’m just saying we have them and they will be released eventually.”

Abba on Los Angeles’ famed Sunset Blvd.

Then, in September 2019… a new wave of interviews, spurred by the final prep for an Abba avatar tour, nicknamed Abbatar, featuring virtual holograms of the quartet. In the U.K. tabloid, The Sun, Ulvaeus said the new songs’ release had again been pushed back, this time until 2020 in coincide with the hologram tour. The quartet understandably want the technology to be perfect.

“When the ladies went into the studio and stood by their mics and started singing, then, oh, it’s that sound — the ­quality of the two ladies when they sing,” Ulvaeus said about the reunion recordings.

It turns out, the initial word of two new songs may actually be as many as five. In a Sept. 21 interview with the Telegraph, Ulvaeus was coy: “I’m not telling you when those new songs will be released because we’ve already missed too many dates.”

One of several photos posted by the group on June 8, 2018. Fans debated which one was Frida and which was Agnetha

It was in June 2018, that Abba first shared pictures of themselves in the recording studio. The picture of Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (aka Frida) elicited some great comments on their Facebook page by fans debating which one was which.

Nancy Wu wrote: “I actually think it’s Frida standing and Agnetha sitting down. If you Google “Agnetha headphones” there are many more photos of her wearing her headphones in front of her head like in this photo.”

To which Jono Beard responded: “It’s obviously Frida sitting down because, erm, it IS Frida. That’s what she looks like. You guys are weird.”

The group formed in 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden and in 1974, Abba, named for the first initials of its four members—Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad—won the Eurovision Song Contest with a song called “Waterloo.” Their subsequent worldwide success included such hits as “Honey Honey,” “I Do, I Do, I Do,” “SOS,” “Mamma Mia,” “Fernando” and “Dancing Queen.” Nine of their songs hit #1 in the U.K. In the U.S. ten reached the Top 20.

With hundreds of millions of records sold worldwide, they are one of the most biggest-selling music acts of all-time. The musical, Mamma Mia!, based on their hit catalog, opened in London in 1999 and in New York on 2001. Both productions are among the most successful musicals ever on the West End and Broadway. A movie version was released in 2008 and a sequel arrived in 2018.

Here’s the group’s complete April 27, 2018 announcement, on their social media pages:

“The decision to go ahead with the exciting ABBA avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence. We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did. And it was like time had stood still and that we only had been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!

Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson in the studio (Photo: Gorel Hanser, via Abba’s Facebook page)

“It resulted in two new songs and one of them, “I Still Have Faith in You,” will be performed by our digital selves in a TV special produced by NBC and the BBC aimed for broadcasting in December.

“We may have come of age, but the song is new. And it feels good.”

Agnetha Benny Björn Anni-Frid

Stockholm, Sweden, April 27th, 2018

The 2016 announcement about the virtual reality tour explained that it was “to create an original entertainment experience with the Swedish pop superstars that will enable a new generation of fans to see, hear, and feel Abba in a way previously unimagined.” The project is in collaboration with American Idol creator Simon Fuller.

Related: On June 5, 2016, the four members had an impromptu reunion

Best Classic Bands spoke to Atlantic Records president, Jerry Greenberg, who signed them to a North American deal. Our story details how “Dancing Queen” made them stars in the U.S.

And in 2010, Abba was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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  1. Tinne
    #1 Tinne 12 May, 2021, 05:38

    Het doet me zo een deugd terug o.a. ” Dancing Queen ” te horen ! Het blijven mijn jonge jaren herinneringen .heel blij te horen dat de groep ABBA terug samenkomt met nieuwe songs en oldies…
    Ode aan ABBA !!! deze muziek mag nooit verloren gaan en blijven volgen generatie op generatie !
    Ik hou van ABBA altijd vanaf mijn jeugd tot heden ( al gepensioneerd ! )
    Lieve groeten

    Tinne x

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  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 12 May, 2021, 22:51

    Honestly, I love Abba, and always have, but I think their memories of their own fame, back in the day, may have exaggerated their sense of their own modern day importance. This few new cuts thing has dragged on for several years now, and, as much as many of us are looking forward to it, from older days, I don’t see how all these delays are warranted, or, in any way, make their new contributions any more important. Even the Stones just basically “do it” nowadays when they’ve got something new to put out.

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