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The game is on again! Abba set to unveil comeback with new songs

Sweden's most famous music group of all time, Abba, are expected to announce their comeback on Thursday, nearly four decades after splitting up.

The game is on again! Abba set to unveil comeback with new songs
Abba, from left, Björn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson. Photo: Jan Collsiöö/TT

Almost as famous for their over-the-top outfits as their music, the group have notched up over 400 million album sales over 50 years.

They had a string of hits in the 1970s and early 1980s after winning Eurovision in 1974 with Waterloo.

Since parting ways in 1982 they have resisted all offers to work together as a foursome.

But later on Thursday, they are expected to delight fans with news on a fresh collaboration.

The now septuagenarian stars of pop classics such as Dancing Queen, The Winner Takes It All and Take a Chance on Me, said they would make a “historic” announcement at 4.45 GMT (6.45pm Stockholm time).

Details are still under wraps but the group is expected to announce their first new songs since the 1980s, as well as the launch of a new theatrical show in which they will perform as digital avatars – or Abbatars.

Last week, the group – Anni-Frid Lyngstad, 75, Agnetha Fältskog, 71, Björn Ulvaeus, 76, and Benny Andersson, 74 – announced on Twitter: “Thank you for waiting, the journey is about to begin.”

A website called AbbaVoyage.com promises a “historic livestream” and Universal Music Group, which owns the band’s back catalogue, was set to hold an event at an east London observation tower.

Carl Magnus Palm, who has written several books on the band, told AFP the group will debut at least one new song, appearing as digital avatars using hologram technology.

Abba have recorded at least two new songs, said Palm, while British newspaper The Sun reported the group has recorded a whole album’s worth in a “sensational comeback”.

The songs were created for a show set to launch in London next year, Palm said.

The Swedish pop icons announced they were returning to the studio in 2018, saying: “We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio.”

They have mentioned five new songs, including “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down”.

Ulvaeus told UK paper The Times in April he wrote the lyrics and Andersson composed the music.

The group “still sounds very much Abba”, he said.

The Sun reported that the group would voice holograms of themselves in their heyday for a “state-of-the-art” show called “Abba Voyage” to be staged at a 3,000-capacity theatre in London’s Olympic Park.

The show will launch next May and run eight times a week, featuring a blend of previously filmed and projected content and live performers, the tabloid said.

The project was delayed by the pandemic and technological issues with the avatars, Palm said.

These will be more sophisticated than previously seen in shows with holograms of singers such as Whitney Houston.

“It’s going to look more lifelike and they are going to look like they did in 1979,” he said.

The group has not released any new music since 1981 and broke up the following year after both of the quartet’s married couples divorced.

They steered clear of a reunion despite their music’s enduring popularity, fuelled by a hit compilation album in 1992, the Mamma Mia musical and later spin-off films starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan.

“There is simply no motivation to regroup. Money is not a factor and we would like people to remember us as we were,” Ulvaeus said in a 2008 interview.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, each member of Abba is worth between $200-300 million. In 2000, they turned down a $1 billion offer to perform a 100-show world tour.

“They’re very independently wealthy so I don’t think it’s because of the money,” Palm said of their comeback.

“I think they’re genuinely excited by the possibilities of this.”

Article by AFP’s Anna Malpas

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FAMILY

Five Swedish children’s songs international parents will inevitably have to learn

You can't hide, and you can't even run. Sooner or later, even international parents will learn these Swedish children's songs. You may as well start now.

Five Swedish children's songs international parents will inevitably have to learn

Babblarnas vaggvisa

“Kom lilla du, kudden väntar nu. Inte läsa mer, Babba, dags att lägga sig.”

Come little one, the pillow awaits. No more reading, Babba, it’s time to go to bed – this repetitive modern lullaby is deceptively simple and soothing, loved and hated in equal measure by parents in Sweden. 

Loved, because it puts the most energetic of babies to sleep. Hated, because afterwards, you’ll be lying there in the dark in your own bed, the lyrics playing softly but insistently on repeat in your head. When you finally remember the order of the characters and their pre-bedtime activities (hint: it’s Babba [reading], Bibbi [listening], Bobbo [playing], Dadda [climbing], Diddi [drawing], Doddo [getting up to mischief]), congratulations, you’ve made it as a parent in Sweden.

The characters were originally created in the 1980s to facilitate children’s language development, but they got a rebirth in the 2000s with a television series for SVT and several new songs. Your children will be able to name them all and they will expect you to do the same. Who knew parenthood was this joyous.

Ekorrn satt i granen

Alice Tegnér is a name you need to know, because she’s the woman who’s to thank or blame for most of the Swedish children’s musical canon. Born in 1864, she was a music teacher from the town of Karlshamn in southern Sweden and composer of some of the country’s most well-known children’s songs. 

This one is about a squirrel who, just as he was sitting down in a spruce to peel some pine cones, gets startled by the sound of children, falls from his branch and hurts his fluffy tail. That’s it, that’s the plot.

Mors lilla Olle

Another one of Tegnér’s greatest hits, this one tells the story of Olle, who runs into a bear when out picking bilberries. To cut a long story short: he feeds the bilberries to the bear, his mother screams and the bear runs off, Olle gets upset that mummy scared his ostensibly only friend.

It’s based on a true story. In 1850, newspapers wrote about how Jon Ersson, then one year and seven months, met a couple of bear cubs at Sörsjön, Dalarna, and fell asleep next to them in the lingon shrubs. Ersson in his 30s emigrated to Minnesota where he was hit by lightning and died. Luck only lasts so long.

Prästens lilla kråka

Prästens lilla kråka, the priest’s little crow (optionally mormors/farmors lilla kråka – grandma’s little crow, or whoever wants to claim the crow), wanted to go for a ride but no one was around to give her a lift. So she took matters into her own hands, but, presumably lacking a driving licence, she slid THIS way and then she slid THAT way and then she slid DOWN into the ditch. Sung while rocking the child to one side, to the other side and then playfully dropping them to the floor.

It often also makes an appearance as a dance around the Maypole on Midsummer’s Eve. 

Lille katt

Astrid Lindgren is not only one of the world’s most famous children’s authors, she is also behind many of the most well-known Swedish songs for children, featuring her beloved characters.

This one starts off “Lille katt, lille katt, lille söte katta. Vet du att, vet du att, det är mörkt om natta” (little cat, little cat, little sweet cat. Do you know, do you know, it’s dark at night – it rhymes in Swedish), followed by similar verses about other animals and family members. It is sung by Ida, the little sister of prankster Emil in the books and films about Emil of Lönneberga. Jazz musician Georg Riedel composed the music, as well as the music for several other Lindgren movies.

Other famous tunes by Lindgren include Här kommer Pippi Långstrump, Idas sommarvisa, Luffarvisan, Jag är en fattig bonddräng, Mors lilla lathund and Världens bästa Karlsson.

These five songs do not even begin to form an exhaustive list of Sweden’s wide, wide, wide repertoire of children’s songs. Which ones can you not get out of your head? Let us know in the comments below!

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