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ABBA

ABBA were a Swedish pop music group active from 1972 until 1982.

ABBA are the most successful popular music group ever to come out of Scandinavia, and rank amongst the top acts in the history of popular music. The quartet topped worldwide charts from the mid 1970s to the early 1980s. They remain a fixture of radio playlists and continue to sell albums. The group have reportedly sold more than 370 million records.

They were the first act from the European continent to enjoy consistent success in the charts of the anglophonic world (the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), and their enormous popularity subsequently opened the doors for many other European acts. See also Legacy.

1969–1971: Before ABBA

Benny Andersson was a member of the immensely popular in the mid - to late 1960s Swedish rock/pop group Hep Stars. The band mostly performed covers of international hits. The strongest side of Hep Stars was their live shows that invariably created mob scenes, many of their fans being teenage girls. Andersson played keyboards and eventually started writing original compositions for his band, most of which became major hits.

Björn Ulvaeus was fronting The Hootenanny Singers, a popular folk/skiffle group. He and Andersson sometimes crossed paths and decided to write songs together. Stig Anderson, manager of the Hootenanny Singers and founder of the Polar Music label, saw much potential in the collaboration of Andersson and Ulvaeus, and encouraged them to compose more. Eventually the duo recorded an album called Lycka ("Happiness" in Swedish), on which they included their own compositions and handled all lead vocals.

Agnetha Fältskog, ABBA's youngest member, had a #1 record in Sweden when she was only 17 and was noted by the critics and songwriters as a talented composer, most of her songs being in the schlager style. Along with her own compositions, she also recorded covers of foreign hits and performed them on tours in Swedish folkparks. Eventually, she was established as one of the most popular Swedish female pop singers of the time. Agnetha briefly met Anni-Frid during a TV-show in early 1968, and Björn briefly at a concert venue a few months later. During filming of a Swedish TV special In 1969, she met Björn Ulvaeus again, and they eventually became a couple and they were married in 1971. In 1972, she starred as Mary Magdalene in the original Swedish production of Jesus Christ Superstar and attracted favourable reviews.

Anni-Frid "Frida" Lyngstad from her early teens sang with various dance bands and worked mainly in a jazz-oriented cabaret style. In 1967, she entered and won a national talent competition. She then signed with EMI and her professional musical career began in earnest. In 1969, she participated in Melodifestivalen, and her entry, Härlig är vår jord, placed fourth. She briefly met Benny Andersson in the studio, as he was the composer behind 'Hej, Clown' who ended up 2nd in the composition. A few weeks later they met again during a concert tour in southern Sweden and soon they became a couple. Andersson also invited Lyngstad to sing backing vocals with Fältskog on the Lycka album and during this time started producing Lyngstad's solo records.

1972–1973: Early years

By the early 1970s, although Ulvaeus and Fältskog were married, they pursued their own separate musical careers. However, Stig Anderson was determined to break into the mainstream international market. He encouraged Ulvaeus and Andersson to write a song for the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest, which would be performed by Lena Anderson. "Say It With a Song" won third in the contest selection rounds convincing Stig he was on the right track.

Ulvaeus and Andersson persevered with their songwriting and experimented with new sounds and vocal arrangements. One of the songs they came up with was "People Need Love", featuring guest vocals by the girls, who were now given much greater prominence than before. Everyone involved felt enthusiastic about the new sound and Stig released it as a single, credited to Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid. The record reached #17 in the Swedish charts, enough to convince them they were on to something. The single also became the first charting record for the quartet in the United States, where it peaked at #114 on the Cashbox singles chart and #117 on Record World's singles chart. Billed as Björn & Benny (with Svenska Flicka), it was released there on Playboy Records. However, according to Stig Anderson, People Need Love could have been a much bigger American hit, but a small label like Playboy Records did not have the distribution resources to meet the demand for the single from retailers and radio programmers .

Music sample:
  • "People Need Love" (1972) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • One of ABBA's first record which was credited to Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid.
  • "Ring Ring" (1973) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • A song which was a hit in many parts of Europe and leaded the Ring Ring album.
  • Problems playing the files? See media help.

The following year they decided to have a try at the Melodifestivalen, this time with the song "Ring Ring." The studio work was handled by Michael B. Tretow, who experimented with a "wall of sound" production technique that became the wholly new ABBA sound. Stig arranged an English translation of the lyrics by Neil Sedaka and Phil Cody and they thought this would be a surefire winner, but it came third. Nevertheless the proto-group put out an album called Ring Ring, still carrying the awkward naming of Björn, Benny, Agnetha & Frida. The album did well and the "Ring Ring" single was a hit in many parts of Europe, but Stig felt the true breakthrough could only come with a UK or US hit.

The ABBA name

In the spring of 1973, Stig, having tired of the unwieldy names, started to refer to the group privately and publicly as ABBA. This was done as a joke at first, since Abba was also the name of a well-known fish-canning company in Sweden. However, since the fish canners were more or less unknown outside Sweden, Stig came to believe the name would work in international markets and so it stuck. Later the group negotiated with the canners for the right to use the name. The first single released as "ABBA" was 'Waterloo'.

ABBA is an acronym formed from the first letters of each group member's name: Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid (Frida). It is usually written ABBA but sometimes, mostly in the media, also as a word, Abba. The first B in the logo version of the name was reversed on the band's promotional material from 1976 onwards and became the group's registered trademark.

1974–1977: Eurovision and after

They tried Eurovision in 1974, now inspired by the growing glam rock scene in England. "Waterloo" was an unashamedly glam-style pop track produced with Michael B. Tretow's wall-of-sound approach. Now far more experienced, they were better prepared for the contest and had an album's worth of material released when the show was held at the Brighton Dome in England. The song won and catapulted them into British consciousness for the first time. Now they had a catchier name, ABBA, and people could buy the whole album (Waterloo) straight away.

"Waterloo" was ABBA's first UK #1 single. In the US, it reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, paving the way for the first ABBA album there, although the album peaked at only #145 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

ABBA's follow-up single "So Long" made the Top 10 in Sweden and Germany, but failed to chart in the UK. However, the next release, "Honey, Honey", managed to break into the Top 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US.

Music sample:
  • "Waterloo" (1974) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • An unashamedly glam-style pop trac now credited to the catchy name ABBA.
  • "Watch Out" (1974) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • The B-side of the single "Waterloo" which was performed in some of their folkpark shows.
  • "S.O.S." (1975) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • Third single from their self-titled 1975 album which put the band back on the worldwide charts.
  • "Mamma Mia" (1975) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • One of the first songs to make a breakthrough in the United Kingdom.
  • Problems playing the files? See media help.

In November 1974, ABBA embarked on their first international tour, playing dates in Denmark, West Germany, and Austria. It wasn't as successful as the band had hoped since most of the venues didn't sell out, and due to a lack of demand, ABBA were even forced to cancel a few shows, including a sole scheduled concert in Switzerland. The second leg of the tour that took ABBA through Scandinavia in January 1975 was entirely different: they played to full houses and finally got the reception they had waited for. During three weeks in the summer of 1975, ABBA compensated for the Swedish tour they tentatively scheduled for the previous summer, but had to cancel after their Eurovision triumph. They played 16 open-air dates in Sweden and Finland, attracting huge crowds. Their Stockholm show at the amusement park Gröna Lund was seen by an estimated audience of 19,000.

The release of their second album ABBA and their single "SOS" consolidated ABBA's presence in the UK, where the single was a Top 10 hit and the album reached #13, and where they were no longer regarded as a Eurovision one-hit wonder. "SOS" became the first song with a palindromic title recorded by a group with a palindromic name to hit the pop charts. British success was further solidified with "Mamma Mia" reaching the UK #1 spot in January 1976.

In the US, "SOS" made it to #10 on the Record World Top 100 singles chart and to #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, picking up the BMI Award along the way as one of the most played songs on American radio in 1975.

Yet the success of the group in the United States remained uneven. While they managed to break into the US singles market where, by early 1976, they already had four Top 30 singles, the album market so far proved to be tough to crack. The eponymous ABBA album generated no fewer than three real American hits, and yet it peaked only at #165 on Cashbox album chart and #174 on the Billboard 200 chart. Opinions were voiced, by Creem in particular, that in the US ABBA endured "a very sloppy promotional campaign".

Further information: ABBA in the United States

In 1976, the band released the somewhat hubristically titled Greatest Hits compilation despite having had only six songs that were Top 40 hits in the UK and the US. It became ABBA's first UK #1 album and included "Fernando" (which had originally been written in Swedish for Lyngstad's 1975 Andersson-produced solo LP Frida ensam, or Frida alone, prompting a subsequent English-language recording by ABBA). One of ABBA's best-known and most popular tracks ever, "Fernando" did not appear on the Swedish or Australian releases of Greatest Hits. In Sweden the song would wait until 1982's The Singles-The First Ten Years to appear in an English-language version credited to ABBA; the track was later included in the Australian release of their 1976 album, Arrival. Greatest Hits brought ABBA into the Top 50 on the US album charts for the first time and eventually went on to sell more than a million copies there.

In the US, "Fernando" reached the Top 10 of the Cashbox Top 100 singles chart and #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The single also topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, thus becoming ABBA's first single getting to the top spot on any American chart. In Australia, as of 2006 ABBA's 1976 hit single "Fernando" still held the record for the most weeks spent at number one (15 weeks) (along with The Beatles' "Hey Jude").

The next album, Arrival, represented a new level of accomplishment in both songwriting and studio work for ABBA, prompting rave reviews from such more rock-orientated UK music weeklies like Melody Maker and New Musical Express and mostly appreciative notices from American critics. In fact, hit after hit flowed from "Arrival": "Money, Money, Money", "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and their most enduring and definitive hit, "Dancing Queen". In 1977, "Arrival" was nominated for the inaugural Brit Award in a category Best International Album of the Year. By this time ABBA were widely popular in the UK, most of Western Europe and Australia.

Their popularity in the US would remain on a comparatively smaller scale, and "Dancing Queen" became the only Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 single ABBA ever had there (they did, however, get three more singles to No.1 position on other Billboard charts, including Billboard Adult Contemporary and Hot Dance Club Play). Nevertheless, "Arrival" finally became a true breakthrough release for ABBA on a US album market when it peaked at No.20 on Billboard album chart.

Music sample:
  • "Dancing Queen" (1976) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • The band's biggest hit considered one of the best examples of Disco music.
  • "Knowing Me, Knowing You" (1977) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • One of their first songs to deal with breaking up a relationship, though it has a happier and upbeat quality to it.
  • "The Name Of The Game" (1977) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • The first song to be recorded for ABBA's fifth studio album, which wasn't as successful as their previous 1975 singles.
  • "Take A Chance On Me" (1978) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • A hugely-selling single with a "tck-a-ch"-style rhythm identifying this hit.
  • Problems playing the files? See media help.

In January 1977, ABBA hit the road. By this time, the group's status changed dramatically and they were now regarded as superstars. ABBA opened their much anticipated tour in Oslo, Norway, and mounted a lavishly produced spectacle of a show that included a few scenes from their self-penned mini-operetta. The concert attracted immense media attention from across Europe and Australia. ABBA continued the tour through Western Europe and ended it with two sold-out concerts at London's Royal Albert Hall. Tickets for these two shows were available only by mail application and it was later revealed that the box-office received 3.5 million requests for tickets. There were, however, complaints about the group's performance lacking "personality" and being "too polished" and "sterile".

After the European part of the tour, in March 1977, ABBA played eleven dates in Australia. The trip was accompanied by mass hysteria and unprecedented media attention, and is vividly captured on film in ABBA: The Movie directed by Lasse Hallström.

In December 1977 (January 1978, in many territories), ABBA followed up Arrival with the more musically and lyrically ambitious The Album which was released to coincide with ABBA: The Movie. Although the album was less well-received by the critics in the UK, it did spawn several hits; "The Name of the Game" and "Take A Chance On Me" among them, both of which topped the UK charts, and reached No.12 and No.3, respectively, on Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US. This album also included the ABBA signature tune, anthemic "Thank You for the Music" that later was released in the UK as a single (1983) and had been a B-side of "Eagle" in territories where that song was released as a single.

1978–1979: The break in North America

By 1978, ABBA were a megagroup. They converted a disused cinema into the Polar Music Studio, a new state-of-the-art studio in Stockholm which was used by several other bands (among others, Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door and Genesis' Duke were recorded there).

Music sample:
  • "As Good As New" (1979) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • Leading song of the album "Voulez-Vous" and performed in their 1979 tour, however not a hit.
  • "Voulez-Vous" (1979) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • Despite being one of ABBA's best-known hits, it was not a worldwide chart-topper.
  • "Chiquitita" (1979) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • It was featured in the January 1979 charity event as ABBA donated all royalties from the song to UNICEF.
  • Problems playing the files? See media help.

Their stand-alone single Summer Night City, their last Swedish number one, stopped just short of topping the UK charts but set the stage for ABBA's foray into disco with the album Voulez-Vous, which was released in April 1979. Notably, two background tracks for the album were recorded in the famous Criteria Studios in Miami, USA with the assistance, among others, of the legendary recording engineer Tom Dowd. The album topped the charts across Europe and in Japan and became the Top 10 hit in Canada and Australia and the Top 20 hit in the US. Somewhat surprisingly, none of the singles from the album achieved No.1 on UK charts, but "Chiquitita", "Does Your Mother Know", "Voulez-Vous" and "I Have A Dream" all charted no lower than No.4. In Canada, "I Have A Dream" became ABBA's second No.1 on RPM Adult Contemporary chart (the first one was "Fernando").

In January 1979, the group performed "Chiquitita" at the Music for UNICEF Concert held at the United Nations General Assembly. ABBA's performance at the concert was, however, lip-synched. The copyright for this worldwide hit was donated by ABBA to UNICEF; see Music for UNICEF Concert.

Later that year, the group released their second compilation album, Greatest Hits Vol. 2, which featured a brand new track "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)", their best known disco hit in Europe. As a curiosity, while selling their music into Russia during the late 1970s, ABBA was paid in oil commodities because of an embargo on the ruble.

On September 13, 1979, ABBA opened their first (and only) North American tour at the Northlands Coliseum, in Edmonton, Canada, with a full house of 14,000. During the next four weeks in North America, they played a total of seventeen sold-out dates, 13 in the U.S. and 4 in Canada.

The last scheduled ABBA concert on the US soil, in Washington, DC, was cancelled due to Fältskog's extreme emotional distress suffered during the flight from New York to Boston when the private plane she was on was subjected to extreme weather conditions (see Windsor Locks, Connecticut Tornado) and could not land for a long time. The tour ended with a show in Toronto, Canada at Maple Leaf Gardens before a capacity crowd of 18,000. The shows also generated the same type of complaints that were expressed during the group's 1977 tour; many fans were aware that ABBA were more of a studio band than a live band.

On October 19, the tour resumed in Western Europe where the band played 23 sold-out gigs, including an unprecedented six sold-out nights at London's Wembley Arena.

1980–1982: Late years

In March of 1980, ABBA travelled to Japan where upon their arrival at Narita International Airport they were besieged by thousands of fans. The group played eleven concerts to full houses, including six shows at Tokyo's Budokan . This tour was ABBA's last "on the road" adventure in their career.

Music sample:
  • "Super Trouper" (1980) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • It was the title track from their album "Super Trouper". The name comes from a range of followspots.
  • "The Winner Takes it All" (1980) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • It is a bittersweet ballad, reflecting the end of a romance, and is assumed to mirror the divorce of band-members Björn and Agnetha.
  • Problems playing the files? See media help.

1980's Super Trouper reflected a certain change in ABBA's style with more prominent use of synthesisers and increasingly more personal lyrics. It set a record for the most preorders ever received for a UK album after 1 million copies were ordered before release. Anticipation for the release had been built up by "The Winner Takes It All", the group's eighth UK chart topper (their first since 1978). In the US, the single reached No. 8 on Billboard Hot 100 chart and became ABBA's second Billboard Adult Contemporary chart topper. This song was allegedly written about Ulvaeus and Fältskog's marital tribulations. The next single from the album, "Super Trouper" also hit No. 1 in UK but was only moderately successful in the US. "Lay All Your Love On Me", a track from Super Trouper released in 1981 as a 12-inch single only in selected territories, managed to top the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart and peaked at No.7 on the UK singles chart becoming at the time the highest ever charting 12-inch release in the UK chart history.

Also in 1980, ABBA recorded a compilation of Spanish-language versions of their hits Gracias Por La Música and released it in the Spanish-speaking countries, and, surprisingly, also in Japan and Australia. The album became a major success and along with Chiquitita single (Spanish version) signaled the group's breakthrough in South America.

The Visitors (1981), their final studio album, showed a songwriting maturity and depth of feeling distinctly lacking from their earlier recordings but still placed the band squarely in the pop genre, with catchy tunes and harmonies. Although not revealed at the time of its release, the album's title track, according to Ulvaeus, refers to the secret meetings held against the approval of totalitarian governments in Soviet-dominated states, while other tracks address topics like failed relationships, threat of war, ageing, loss of innocence, a parent watching a child grow up and so on. This change of style was reflected in the relative commercial decline, mostly evident in the UK, after the release of the hit single "One Of Us" in December 1981.

Music sample:
  • "One Of Us" (1981) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • Last major worldwide hit of the band which was about a woman trying to revive a dead relationship.
  • "Under Attack" (1983) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
    • Last single released by the band and one of the last songs they recorded together.
  • Problems playing the files? See media help.

Although it topped the charts across most of Europe, entered the Top 20 in Canada, France and Japan and Top 30 in the US and Australia, commercially, The Visitors was not as spectacularly successful as its predeccessors.

The track from the "The Visitors" "When All Is Said And Done" was released as a single in North America and Australia/New Zealand and became ABBA's final Top 30 hit in the US, while reaching No.4 on RPM Adult Contemporary chart in Canada. Another US single release taken from "The Visitors" was the title track that hit Top Ten of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.

In Spring 1982, the group gathered to record a new album and discussed a small tour. In the end they settled for a double album compilation of all their past successes with two new songs. The double album The Singles: The First Ten Years topped the UK album chart. The two new tracks released as singles were "Under Attack" and "The Day before You Came", which was the last song ABBA ever recorded together. Commercially, the two discs were less successful than previous releases. In the UK, neither cracked the Top 25, while across most of Europe, as expected, they did reach the higher end of the charts. In Canada "The Day before You Came" got to No.5 on the RPM Adult Contemporary chart.

Four other songs were recorded in 1982: "Cassandra" (which appeared as the b-side of the "The Day Before You Came" single), "You Owe Me One" (the b-side of the "Under Attack" single), "I Am the City" and "Just Like That". "I Am the City" was released on the compilation album More ABBA Gold in 1993.

Despite numerous requests from fans, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson are still refusing to release "Just Like That" in its entirety, yet it has surfaced on bootlegs.

In November 1982, ABBA visited UK and West Germany in connection with the release of their The Singles album. These were the last promotional visits in the group's career. ABBA then decided to take a 'break' - continuing to this day - as they began pursuing different projects. Andersson and Ulvaeus started working with Tim Rice on a concept music album Chess while Fältskog and Lyngstad each concentrated on their international solo careers.

ABBA's last public appearance as a group took place in January 1986 when they performed an acoustic version of "Tivedshambo", the very first song written by their manager Stig Anderson, for a Swedish TV show honouring Anderson on his 55th birthday. That year, the group also released their ABBA Live album featuring selections of live performances throughout their career. On November 11 2002, Ulvaeus confirmed on German TV "Beckman" that ABBA's last known appearance (not filmed) as a group was in 1999 on the 50th birthday of Görel Hanser, former secretary of Stig Anderson.

ABBA never officially announced the end of the group, but as years passed by, the chances of ABBA working together again became increasingly slim, and the group was considered dissolved.

After ABBA

In 1984, Ulvaeus and Andersson released a music concept album Chess that they created together with lyricist Tim Rice. It was later turned into a musical on West End (1986), on Broadway (1988) and in Stockholm (Chess På Svenska - Chess in Swedish) (2003).

They followed Chess with Kristina från Duvemåla (1995), directed for the stage by Lars Rudolfsson and based on the Emigrants tetralogy by Swedish novelist Vilhelm Moberg. An English version of Kristina från Duvemåla has been in the works for a long time, and it had been reported that the Broadway pre-production is in its earliest stage.

Mamma Mia!, a musical built around ABBA's songs and produced by Ulvaeus, is a worldwide box-office blockbuster with versions in several languages currently being played in many countries, including UK (West End premiere in 1999), USA (Broadway premiere in 2001) and Sweden (Swedish language premiere in 2005). Songwriters Andersson and Ulvaeus were unable to write notated music on paper. This limitation would later affect the production of the musical as other musicians were brought in just to sit and listen to the existing recordings and notate everything that was considered for use in the musical - a demanding task that required six months as Andersson and Ulvaeus insisted on near-exact notation of their past performances.

After receiving little attention during the acme of punk and new wave in the mid and late 1980s, ABBA experienced a major resurgence. They were recognised as masters of their art, the three minute (or so) pop song. 1992 saw a revival of interest in ABBA, with the release of their ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits compilation album selling massively worldwide and setting chart longevity records. In the US, the album became the most popular ABBA release there selling to date more than six million copies.

During the 1990s many ABBA tracks were rediscovered and covered by other artists, such as Erasure, Ash and the A*Teens, among others. The avant-garde band Blancmange had also covered The Day Before You Came in the mid-1980s, one of the first bands to cover an ABBA track. Internationally released, 1994 Australian film "Muriel's Wedding" directed by P.J. Hogan, featured an ABBA-loving protagonist.

In 2000 ABBA were reported to have turned down an offer of approximately $1,000,000,000 (one billion American dollars) to do a reunion tour.

In a November 2004 interview with the German magazine Bunte, Ulvaeus said a reunion would not satisfy ABBA's many fans, even though there are legions of them around the world often clamouring for one. In February 2005, at the Stockholm premiere of Mamma Mia!, for the first time since 1986 all four members of ABBA simultaneously appeared at the same public event.

Post-band solo careers

Both female members of ABBA pursued solo success on the international scene following the break-up of the band.

In 1982, Lyngstad released her Phil Collins-produced album Something's Going On. This Top 20 UK and Top 40 US album included the hit single "I Know There's Something Going On" which reached No.13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The album sold 1 million copies internationally.

Fältskog followed in 1983 with the album Wrap Your Arms Around Me. This album included the hit single The Heat Is On which was a big hit all over Europe and Scandinavia that year. In the US, Fältskog scored a Billboard top 30 hit with Can't Shake Loose. In Europe, the single Wrap your arms around me was a big hit too. It reached number one in Belgium and Denmark, top 5 in Sweden and top 20 in Germany and France. Her album sold over 1.3 million copies worldwide.

Lyngstad's second solo album Shine (produced by Steve Lillywhite) was a moderate success in Sweden but was a big commercial failure elsewhere. Fältskog fared better with her second post-ABBA solo album Eyes of a Woman. The album was number two in the Swedish charts and also did reasonably well in Europe. The lead-off single from the album I won't let you go was a single hit all over Europe.

After I Stand Alone produced by Peter Cetera (which included the Billboard hit I wasn't the one), in 1988 Fältskog withdrew from public life and refused to give interviews because she had stopped her career. In 1996 she released her autobiography called As I Am and a compilation featuring her solo hits alongside some ABBA classics. In 2004, she made a successful comeback. She released the critically acclaimed album "My Colouring Book", which debuted at No.1 in Sweden, No. 6 in Germany and No.12 in UK. The album went triple-platinum in Sweden (300,000 copies), gold in Finland, and silver in the UK. The lead-off single If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind became Agnetha's biggest solo hit in the UK reaching No.9 in the midweek sales, however finally achieving the No.11 position. The single was No.2 in Sweden and was a hit all over Scandinavia and did well in Europe. Lately, Agnetha has been seen more and more in public. She has recently (January 2007) sung a live duet on stage with the Swedish singer Tommy Körberg (of Chess fame). This happened at the after party of the final showing on the ABBA musical Mamma Mia! in Stockholm. Benny and Björn were also present during this event. It is rumoured that Agnetha is currently planning a new solo record to be released in 2008. Nowadays, Fältskog is living in the Swedish island of Ekerö.

Lyngstad released her last album to date in 1996, for Scandinavia-only, Swedish-language Djupa andetag (Deep Breaths). It was number one in Sweden, selling around 90,000 copies. All of the singles released from the album failed to reach the top 10 in Sweden. The album wasn't released outside of Sweden. In 2004, Lyngstad recorded a song called "The Sun Will Shine Again" with former Deep Purple member Jon Lord. In 2005, she released a career retrospective DVD which was released in Europe only. The UK department of her label was not interested in Frida's solo material. Nowadays, Lyngstad lives a low profiled life but every now and then shows her face at a party or charity. On August 26, 1992 Lyngstad married Prince Heinrch Ruzzo Reuss von Plauen (May 24, 1950–October 29, 1999), of the German Reuss family. Von Plauen died of lymphoma at 49 years old. Frida didn't only lose her husband, she also lost her daughter in a car accident. Today, Frida lives in Switzerland.

Legacy

ABBA's success subsequently opened the doors for many other European acts. Their lasting legacy is the legitimisation of the Swedish music industry as a mainstream player (Sweden is considered by many as the third greatest exporter of music, following the US and the UK). In November 2006 plans for an ABBA museum in Stockholm were announced. The idea has the backing of the band and the museum is expected to open in 2008.

Influence

  • In 1992, Erasure released an EP called "Abba-esque". It consisted of four covers of ABBA songs, "S.O.S.", "Lay All Your Love on Me," "Voulez Vous," and "Take a Chance on Me."
  • The hit song "Bring Me Edelweiss" (1989) by Edelweiss features the tune and some lyrics from "S.O.S". This caused some controversy between Ulvaeus and Andersson, and manager Stig - Stig had granted approval to use the song without consulting the others.
  • The ABBA tribute band Björn Again became so successful that as of 2004 there were five casts of Björn Again performing in various parts of the world. The original Björn Again had been touring for 15 years, longer than the original group.
  • Techno and house remakes of many original ABBA hits were released under the name Abbacadabra.
  • Elvis Costello included three lines from Dancing Queen in the lyrics of the title track of his 2002 album When I Was Cruel.
  • While on their Zoo TV Tour in 1992, U2 performed Dancing Queen. During one of their two concerts in Stockholm, they were joined onstage for this song by Ulvaeus and Andersson, who played guitar and keyboard respectively.
  • The Fugees sampled ABBA's "The Name Of The Game" for their contribution to the 1996 When We Were Kings soundtrack, Rumble in the Jungle. It was the first time ABBA ever gave permission for one of their songs to be sampled.
  • Madonna sampled the group's Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) in her 2005 single Hung Up (only the second time ABBA gave permission for sampling). She subsequently honoured them during the finale of her Confessions Tour (2006) when she donned an outfit based on Fältskog's and Lyngstad's costumes from ABBA's 1979 world tour, and a sequined cape emblazoned with the legend Dancing Queen. ABBA's ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits album was sold alongside her own merchandise during the tour.
  • There is a heavy metal tribute album to ABBA entitled "A Tribute To Abba" featuring prominent Swedish metal bands such Therion and Tad Morose. A number of ABBA hits are performed in the style of heavy metal.
  • In the late 90's, the teenage band A*Teens was formed. Their entire first album was made up of ABBA covers, including Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, and Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight). Original singles of the band include artwork that listed them as the ABBA*Teens.
  • The 1977 Hindi movieHum Kisi Se Kam Nahin has a song Mil Gaya Humko Saathi which is based on Mamma Mia.
  • Refer also List of artists who have covered ABBA songs

Fashion and videos

ABBA were widely noted for the colourful and trend-setting costumes its members wore. The videos which accompanied some of their biggest hits are often cited as being among the earliest examples of the genre. Though The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, the Who, Bob Dylan and others had made several videos, making promotional videos still hadn't become the industry standard by the early-to-mid 1970s. Most of ABBA's videos (and ABBA - The Movie) were directed by Lasse Hallström who would later direct the films My Life as a Dog, The Cider House Rules and Chocolat.

ABBA made videos because their songs were hits in so many different countries and personal appearances weren't always possible. This was also an effort to minimize travelling, particularly to countries that would have required extremely long flights. Fältskog and Ulvaeus had two young children, and Fältskog, who was also afraid of flying, was very reluctant to leave her children for such a long time. ABBA's manager Stig Anderson realised the potential of showing a simple video clip on television to publicise a single or album, thereby allowing easier and quicker exposure than a concert tour. Some of these videos became classics because of the 1970s era costumes and early video effects, such as the grouping of the band members in different combinations of pairs, overlapping one singer's profile with the other's full face, and the contrasting of one member against another.

Nowadays, most of their videos can be seen on the DVDs ABBA Gold and The Definitive Collection.