The return of ABBA

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The return of ABBA

KANG KI-HEON
The author is an industry 1 team reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Swedish pop group ABBA is back. The message they are sending to fans after 40 years is “voyage.” There’s no reason or justification to refuse. I am letting my body and mind go to the two pre-released songs — “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” — before the regular album release scheduled for November. It sounds like whispering that it won’t be a challenging journey, so buckle up tightly. All you need to do is to keep your ears open to the familiar synthesizer melody.

If you look closely, they are not the same ABBA from 40 years ago. Digital terms like “reload” or “decode” have been included in the lyrics. I can read between the lines some nervousness that they want to reach fans around the world.

ABBA abandoned analog and is armed with digital. The comeback interview was broadcast live on YouTube, and the group is preparing an avatar performance next year. Fans react that they are back when the world wants them the most due to the pandemic. Benny Anderson said he wanted to do it before he died and that ABBA was sailing the unknown sea and travelling the future with help from young friends. Bjorn Ulvaeus said he could not mimic the music of the latest popular singers.

In its heyday, ABBA didn’t have worldwide success. After the group was formed in 1972, it sold 400 million albums and made nine British chart-topping songs. But Dancing Queen is the only song to top the U.S. Billboard Chart. It captured Americans completely from the 1999 musical, Mamma Mia!

The new song released on YouTube surpassed 12 million views in a day. The lyrics calmly reflecting thoughts are still appealing. The human memory is designed to fade, but some memories become clearer as time goes by. That memory becomes the energy guiding life. ABBA’s new song appeals to that memory.

“I believe it would be fair to say / You look bewildered / And you wonder why I’m here today [...] And I’m asking you to have an open mind / I’m not the one you knew / I’m now and then combined / And love and hope is why I am here now [...] I’m fired up, don’t shut me down.”

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