ABBA

Is ABBA making the biggest comeback in pop history? asks NATHAN RAO

IN 1974, a little-known Swedish pop band named after the initials of its four members won the Eurovision Song Contest with a swingy bop about the 1815 defeat of the French army putting an end to the Napoleonic Wars.

Not the most obvious subject matter for a singing competition founded on puppets on strings, little girls’ kisses, congratulations, jubilations, and boom bang a bangs. But ‘Waterloo’ was no tribute to boring history lessons, wooden school teachers, and dusty textbooks. It was the story of a woman’s surrender to the undying love for her man told through the metaphor of battle. Who knew? It also marked the inauguration onto the music scene of one of the world’s most beloved pop groups.

We can all name at least one favourite ABBA song, and even the most defiant dance-floor dodgers will confess to having had a sneaky boogie to Dancing Queen after a glass or two at a wedding.

So, after almost two years of lockdowns, holiday bans, enforced homestays and hideous hairdos, who but only the hardest hearted could have remained un-cheered when they heard the news, ABBA are back.

ABBA in 1974

I admit, I was dubious whether a quartet of septuagenarians known for churning out whimsy pop ditties almost half a century ago would survive the modern pop scene. But they seem to be managing it, in fact, herregud (that’s Swedish for good God), they’re smashing it.

Voyage, the new album, sold more than a million copies in its first week, and tickets for next year’s concert at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are selling for hundreds a piece. Money, money, money? You can say that again.

ABBA are making possibly the biggest comeback in pop history.

ABBAtars

At just under a decade, the group’s early career was shorter than some of their contemporaries, and apart from a brief resurgence in the early 1990s followed by the film and musical Mamma Mia! The fab four have remained quiet.

They rose to the dizzy heights of pop stardom in the 70s with upbeat anthems about taking chances on love, walking along French riversides eating croissants, and sneaking strange men into bedrooms after the stroke of midnight, all dressed up in enough satin and sequins to keep Ru Paul in drag races for the rest of his career.

Then in the early 80s, bubbly tunes about love turned into dreary tales of relationship break-ups that echoed the band’s own marriage struggles, and in 1982, amid sinking record sales, ABBA released their final offering: The Day Before You Came was a dreary synthpop tale of a bored woman waiting for her lover while watching Dallas and eating a Chinese takeaway–can you get more depressing?

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