Despite the fact that they had a hit song called “Money, Money, Money,” ABBA refused a billion-dollar offer to get the band back together in 2000. Today, the Swedish musical sensation has changed its collective mind and will return to the concert stage next year. Why now, and what will that concert look like? Here’s what we know.
ABBA declined a big paycheck
In 2000, an unnamed consortium of British and American investors offered the former spouses and bandmates a whopping billion dollars to reunite for 250 shows. Although each member of ABBA would have raked in a quarter billion dollars, the number of shows was deemed unreasonable and besides, they’d “already done it,” said blonde singer Agnetha Fältskog in 2013.
ABBA guitarist Björn Ulvaeus and keyboard player Benny Andersson echoed Fältskog’s sentiments in an interview with The Times: “We said no because they wanted 250 shows or something, it was incredible. No chance, no chance. We had done it.”
Eight years before the generous offer, ABBA “took a break” and didn’t play together again until the quartet sang “Me and I” at a one-off private show in 2016. Held at the posh Berns Salonger venue in downtown Stockholm, the intimate mini-concert commemorated 50 years of friendship between bandmates Ulvaeus and Andersson. The oh-so brief reunion also happened to be where ABBA alluded to the much-anticipated concert event that is poised to happen in London next year, explains Rolling Stone.
Many vintage bands have reunited over the years, but none was offered more to do so than ABBA. By comparison, the beloved Beatles who practically ruled the airwaves during the mid-60s were offered a paltry sum of $30 to reunite in the mid-1970s. The Fab Four also declined, says E! Online.
How much is a billion dollars? If you started saving $100 every day, it would take you (and your descendants) a little more than 27,397 years to attain $1 billion. Translate dollars into footsteps, and it would take you and your shoes around the equator 15 times. If you start right now and count to one billion without taking a break, it will take around 95 years to complete the task, explains the University of California at Berkeley. Translate dollars into Swedish kroner, and it totals around nine billion, explains ABBA Omnibus.
How ABBA began and why they broke up
The story of the musical combo whose name is an acronym for Agnetha Fältskog, Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad began all the way back in 1966. Ulvaeus was part of a popular group called the Hootenanny Singers, and Andersson was in Sweden’s #1 pop group, the Hep Stars.
Fältskog and Lyngstad were solo artists who also enjoyed local popularity. By 1973, the four individuals had paired up and finished third in their first Eurovision Song Contest. The double-couple band won the next year with a rousing rendition of an original song called “Waterloo,” according to ABBA Fan Club Australia.
Fame followed, and ABBA became the most successful pop group of the 1970s. In fact, the Beatles and Queen are the only bands that have sold more albums and singles than ABBA, says Business Insider. In the early 1980s, both couples divorced and ABBA stopped performing and recording together.
You can dance, you can jive
Even before they declined a monumental sum to reunite in 2000, interest in the Swedish foursome had been on the upswing, in large part due to movies such Muriel’s Wedding and Mamma Mia! as well as stage productions of the latter. British teen pop band, S Club 7, also ignited second- and even third-generation interest ABBA when they covered the hook-heavy “Dancing Queen” on their Abbamania album in 1999.
Crediting ABBA for “saving 2021,” BBC News explains that the Swedish singers never went out of style due to their timeless tunes that sound as good today as when they were first released. After an almost 40-year long hiatus, ABBA decided it was time to record a follow-up to their last album. As noted by NPR, the band released this statement:
“We took a break in the spring of 1982, and now we’ve decided it’s time to end it. They say it’s foolhardy to wait more than 40 years between albums, so we’ve recorded a follow-up to The Visitors.”
In anticipation of their upcoming live-ish concert series, ABBA released songs from a new album called Voyage last November. Many bands do concerts to support a new album, and ABBA is no exception. The way they plan to perform is, however, far different from anything people have seen before.
Now in their 70s, the band members worked with Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic to create avatars that will emulate their younger selves, explains Breaking News Today.
Dubbed ABBA Voyage, the concert series at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London will feature a live remote 10-piece orchestra, pre-recorded songs, and age-defying “Abba-tars” that are sure to enchant die-hard fans and newcomers alike. Tickets are already on sale for a series of concerts that are scheduled to begin on May 27, 2022, according to Variety.
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