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Here they go again! Disco group ABBA reunites for two more songs more than 35 years after splitting

The quartet, which sold more than 400 million albums, called the new recording session ‘an extremely joyful experience’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 April, 2018, 2:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 April, 2018, 5:20am

Mamma Mia - here they go again! Members of Sweden’s legendary disco group ABBA announced on Friday that they have reunited to record two new songs, more than three decades after their last single, sparking joy and surprise among fans. 

“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,” the group said in a statement after repeatedly vowing they would never reunite. 

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The new songs, I Still Have Faith in You and Don’t Shut Me Down, were recorded last summer, the band’s manager, Gorel Hanser, told TT news agency. 

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“It was like time had stood still and that we only had been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!” members Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson added. 

The quartet, who have sold more than 400 million albums, split up in 1982 after dominating the disco scene for more than a decade with hits like Waterloo, Dancing Queen, Mamma Mia and Super Trouper. They have not sung together publicly since 1986.

“I think it’s going to sound pretty much like their last songs from 1982, with quite a mild tempo, not like Voulez-Vous or Gimme Gimme Gimme,” Carl Magnus Palm, who has written several books about the group, said. 

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“Frida’s and Agnetha’s voices are the same, so it won’t be a huge difference,” he said.

Palm said he was stunned by Friday’s announcement. 

“I’m as surprised as everyone else,” he said. “They’ve always been so adamant that they weren’t going to make new music.”

The news came as Sweden mourned the death of another of its music sensations, Avicii, one of the world’s most successful DJs whose real name was Tim Bergling. He was found dead a week ago in Oman, where he had been on holiday with friends. 

Computerised avatars are to perform I Still Have Faith In You in a TV special produced by NBC and the BBA to be broadcast in December, the group said. 

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

Bjorn, 73, was married to Agnetha, 68, and Benny, 71, was married to Anni-Frid, 72. The group dominated the 1970s disco scene with their glitzy costumes, kitsch dance routines and catchy melodies.

They first found global fame after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with Waterloo.

While they have appeared in public together on rare occasions, they have never reunited to perform as a group, and have vowed that won’t ever happen.

“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.

Friday’s announcement elicited as much joy as shock among observers.

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Richard Skold, a 46-year-old ABBA fan who works at a Stockholm book store, jumped up with surprise after hearing the news.  “This is the craziest thing I’ve heard! I never thought this would happen. And the fact that they’re all still alive is fantastic!” he said.

“BREAKING: ABBA have reformed. This may be bigger than Korea,” British journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan tweeted, referring to Friday’s historic meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in.

Hanser, the group’s manager, said that hearing the four record the two new songs was “just like in the ABBA days”. 

“It was the same wonderful chemistry. It was as if time had stood still,” she said. “Everyone got into their role and sang and sang and sang,” she said, adding the band was not planning to tour together in real life. 

Their popularity has continued to grow over the years, with the 1999 hit stage musical Mamma Mia and the 2008 film of the same name starring Meryl Streep bringing their music to a whole new generation of fans.

ABBA’s music also featured prominently in two cult Australian films, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Muriel’s Wedding, both released in 1994.

In 2013, the world’s first museum dedicated to ABBA opened in Stockholm, offering visitors a chance to get up close and personal with the foursome with a little help from modern technology.