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CULTURE

LISTEN: What do you think of Abba’s new songs?

Swedish superstars Abba have released two new songs almost four decades after splitting up. Have a listen and tell us what you think.

LISTEN: What do you think of Abba's new songs?
A big screen in Stockholm showing Abba's announcement on Thursday. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

Abba notched up over 400 million album sales over 50 years despite parting ways in 1982 and resolutely resisting all offers to work together again – until now.

“We have made a new album with Abba!” the band’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson announced via a video presentation in London, delivering the news fans have waited decades for.

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

But on Thursday, Ulvaeus and Andersson put an end to the suspense, following hints that something was in the pipeline.

After the video announcement, both men appeared in person, dressed in black, for a presentation of the forthcoming album.

“The album is in the can now, it’s done,” said Andersson, describing the group’s return to the studio, against the spectacular backdrop of the view from the top of London’s ArcelorMittal Orbit tower.

“It’s been 40 years, or 39, it was like no time had passed. It was quite amazing,” he said.

“We’ve done as good as we could at our age.”

The pair looked relaxed and described their reunion as very friendly.

“No imagination could dream up that: to release a new album after 40 years and still be the best of friends,” said Ulvaeus.

“It’s the most fun thing you can do: to write songs,” he added.

‘Biggest reunion’

The album will come out on November 5th, the musicians said, with the show expected in May 2022.

The now septuagenarian stars of pop classics such as Dancing Queen, The Winner Takes It All and Take a Chance on Me, last recorded new music together in the 1980s.

British radio presenter Zoe Ball, hosting the interview, said: “This is huge: yes Abba are back together officially.”

She hailed this as “one of the biggest reunions ever”.

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

The Swedish pop icons had 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.”

Two new songs – I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down – were played in London Thursday, featuring the band’s characteristic sound.

Acknowledging their age, the musicians said they were not trying to imitate contemporary stars.

“We’re not competing with (Canadian rapper) Drake and all those other guys,” said Andersson.

Watch and listen to I Still Have Faith In You in the video below. If the video doesn’t work, you can click HERE to watch on YouTube:

‘We looked ridiculous’

The musicians also described the process of being transformed into digital avatars using hologram technology for a new show set to launch in London next year.

They described how they were photographed in leotards to create the avatars for the show called Abba Voyage which will play at a theatre being built close to the presentation venue in east London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

“We looked ridiculous,” said Andersson.

He said the show will feature the group as “digital characters” in 1979 when they were “in their prime”. They will look “perfectly real”, he said.

The show is “technically immensely complicated, the screen, the sound, all the lights”, he added.

Watch and listen to Don’t Shut Me Down in the video below. If the video doesn’t work, you can click HERE to watch on YouTube:

It will feature 22 songs, mostly the group’s classic hits, and last 90 minutes, the musicians said, with tickets going on sale later this month.

The group broke up in 1982 by which time both of the quartet’s married couples were divorced.

They long 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,” Swedish Abba expert and author of several books on the group Carl Magnus Palm said of their comeback in a comment to AFP.

Article by AFP’s Anna Malpas

What do you think of the new Abba songs? Let us know in the comments below!

Member comments

    1. Yes, agreed. ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ is brilliant. I thought ‘I Still Have Faith In You’ was alright, but took too long to get going properly.

  1. I was one of the many Australians who set the alarm for 02.30, and was not disappointed. Some of us were in tears. Loved ISHFIY, I think that DSMD will have to grow on me. Difficult to believe that so many people were involved, and everyone kept the lid on it for so long. Well done to them, sort of.
    We did not have any idea about the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so much so that at first I thought it must have been photoshopped. It wasn´t.

  2. Yes, it really sounds like Abba.
    ‘I Still Have Faith In You’ is a poignant song which brought tears to my eyes.
    The exceptional and extraordinary songwriting and arrangement mastery
    which brought us all the wonderful ’70’s and early 80’s hits from Benny and Björn
    has not been lost. The magical harmonies of Anni-Frid and Agnetha so beautiful too.

  3. Wow! So good to hear new material from them and eagerly anticipate more. ISHFY pulled my heartstrings & nearly drew a tear. I feel like DSMD sounds fresh and holds its’ own competing with other contemporaneous songs.

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CULTURE

‘Don’t wear bright colours’: Eight tips on how to dress like a Swede

Swedes have an international reputation for dressing well, with Scandi style a popular trend outside Sweden. The Local asked Swedes and foreigners living in Sweden to try and figure out the best tips and tricks for how to dress like a Swede.

'Don't wear bright colours': Eight tips on how to dress like a Swede

Black is best

When asking several Swedes their top-tips on how to dress like a Swede, many agreed – wear black.

Young professional Tove advises to keep it “all black, minimalist”. Uppsala newspaper columnist Moa agrees: “Wear a lot of black clothes and DON’T wear sneakers or ‘comfortable’ shoes, like running shoes, with dresses.”

Black is a neutral colour and, in general, if you get the neutral colours right you have got a long way in following the Swedish style. 

Neutral colours and a lot of knitwear is a good starting point. Photo: FilippaK/imagebank.sweden.se

Stay neutral 

Sweden might be saying goodbye to hundreds of years of neutrality by joining Nato, but Swedish fashion maintains its strong neutral stance when it comes to colour combinations.

Generally speaking, in autumn and winter Swedes tend to wear darker colours, as Sharon put it: “lots of beige, grey, black and ivory knits or wool. Jeans black or any shade of blue. Black tights with white sneakers for skirts and dresses”.

“Swedes in general will wear black and navy together which I’ve not seen before,” she added.

However, as the weather gets warmer, things change, as half-British half-Swedish Erik explained: “in summer/late spring Swedes change shape and personality,” adding a bit more colour to their wardrobe.

“Lots of colours yet still somewhat monochrome,” he said.

Most Swedes don’t wear a tie at work. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Follow the news trend, drop the tie

Nils, a reporter and presenter for public broadcaster SVT in western Sweden, does not always wear a tie in front of the camera – and he said his colleagues on national news don’t wear ties either.

“It’s not a must,” he said.

A blue shirt, no tie, top button open, beige chinos and a grey dinner jacket is the look he chose when presenting the evening news a few weeks ago.

Nils Arnell presenting the news on SVT Nyheter Väst. Photo: Nils Arnell/SVT

On a day to day basis Nils, who stressed that he’s “not a fashion expert”, gave the following advice: “As long as you manage to dress in a neat style, you can get away with quite a lot.”

“A white t-shirt and an overshirt work well in most situations and look stylish.”

Stay classy, even in class

Engineering student Erik (not the same Erik quoted previously) recently returned to Sweden from a one-year exchange at Birmingham University, where he noticed a big difference in student style between the two countries.

“The first thing that comes to mind is that on university campus there are so many people wearing work-out clothes, at least where I was”, he said.

“In Sweden, it’s more common to wear jeans than tracksuit bottoms, compared to the UK”. 

It’s also common to see a difference in styles even between departments at Swedish universities. The law and economics departments, for example, tend to wear more formal attire with a higher number of students wearing shirts and polos than, say, social sciences or engineering students.

Many students seem to wear a toned-down version of what they might be expected to wear in their future workplace.

When in doubt, think Jantelagen!

Equality and conformity are important concepts when it comes to many aspects of day-to-day life in Sweden, including the clothes you wear.

This doesn’t mean you have to do exactly the same as everyone else, but more that being too flashy or over-the-top can be frowned upon.

This can be traced back to Jantelagen, “the law of Jante”, a set of 10 rules taken from a satirical novel written by Danish author Aksel Sandemose in the 1930s, which spells out the unwritten cultural codes that have long defined Scandinavia.

Jantelagen discourages individual success and sets average as the goal. It manifests itself in Swedish culture not only with a ‘we are all equal’ ethos but even more so a ‘don’t think you are better than anyone, ever’ mindset.

And this is seen in Swedes’ attitude to clothing, too. Flashy, expensive clothing with obvious logos or brands designed to show off your wealth breaks the first rule of Jantelagen: “You’re not to think you are anything special”.

‘Stealth wealth’

This doesn’t mean that Swedes don’t wear expensive clothes, though. They’re just not in-your-face expensive.

Felix, a podcaster from Stockholm describes it as “stealth wealth”, saying that Swedes would have no problem buying and wearing “a black jacket without any tags for 10,000kr”. 

Despite living in Sweden his whole life, he said that it’s not always easy to get the style right.

“I’m struggling myself,” he admitted.

He suggested taking a look at fashion blogger and journalist Martin Hansson for inspiration on how to dress. 

“Do NOT use bright colours,” Felix added.

Birkenstocks with socks. Photo: Carl-Olof Zimmerman/TT

Footwear

Most of those we asked said that Swedes are a fan of white trainers, most commonly Stan Smiths or Vagabonds.

With the shoes being popular all year round for men and women, this can cause issues at house parties – as Swedes take off their shoes when they come inside.

This inevitably results in confused guests at the end of the night trying to figure out just which pair of white trainers belongs to them – and trying to find one missing shoe the next day because someone accidentally walked away with one of yours is more common than you might think. 

Vans trainers are also popular amongst more alternative crowds (black of course). At work, dress shoes are popular in the winter and loafers or ballerinas in the summer.

In the summer months, you’re likely to see Birkenstock sandals on men and women. Most Swedes wear Birkenstocks without socks – unless they’re off to do their laundry in their building’s tvättstuga.

Birkenstocks are also popular as indoor shoes all-year-round, both at home and at work. It is common to have a “no outdoor shoes” policy in gyms, schools and some offices. This is to avoid bringing a lot of dirt indoors, especially in the winter months when there is snow, rain, grit and salt on the streets.

H&M’s then-CEO Rolf Eriksen wears colourful socks at a press conference in 2006. Photo: Björn Larsson Ask/SvD/SCANPIX/TT

Don’t forget the socks!

As you often take your shoes off indoors in Sweden, your socks are visible.

This has led to an unexpected trend for colourful socks with interesting patterns, which are a great way to break the monotone of neutral colours and conformity by expressing your personality – in a lagom way, of course.

A pair of colourful socks or a playful pattern will get you noticed and likely be a conversation starter at a dinner party.

What’s your best advice for dressing like a Swede? Let us know!

This article is based on the responses we received from Swedes and foreigners in Sweden on what they think you should wear if you want to follow Swedish fashion trends.

If you have any tips of your own which you think we’ve left out, let us know! You can comment on this article, send us an email at [email protected], or get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @thelocalsweden

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