The music of iconic group ABBA reached audiences around the world once again this past weekend by way of the movie musical "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again." As of press time, the original "Mamma Mia!" and the "Here We Go Again" soundtracks sit at No. 2 and No. 1 respectively on the iTunes chart. Even though the Swedish quartet parted ways in the early '80s, their classic pop songs stand the test of time. Thanks to ABBA's music getting shared through various projects throughout the decades, fans old and new continue to spend their money, money, money on the band's brand.
ABBA - an acronym made up of members Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad's first names - formed in 1972, but the band didn't come into global prominence until two years later at the Eurovision Song Contest. Representing Sweden, ABBA and the pop stomper "Waterloo" beat out entries from the other European countries, including the Cambridge-born Olivia Newton-John repping the United Kingdom. With disco flying high in the '70s, ABBA's polished Euro-pop lit up dance floors everywhere. Ulvaeus and Andersson's impeccable songwriting partnership brought to life by Fältskog and Lyngstad's alluring voices made for the perfect combination, especially on the dreamy mega-hit "Dancing Queen."
ABBA's tenure on top was brief but impactful and after a string of hits, the group gracefully bowed out of the spotlight at the end of 1982. During their time together, Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid put Sweden on the map and helped shaped the sound of pop music that followed. A new appreciation for ABBA's music emerged in 1992 when Gold: Greatest Hits was released and it went on to become the band's best-selling album worldwide (outselling all the original studio albums). Two years later, Ulvaeus and Andersson allowed some of ABBA's songs to be used in the comedy "Muriel's Wedding" and the LGBTQ classic "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." That decade, Stockholm, the home of ABBA, was becoming a hit factory again.
In 1994, Swedes returned to the top of the charts with Ace of Base and smash hit "The Sign" produced by the late Denniz Pop. He went on to discover current hit-maker Max Martin. They cornered the teenage market from Stockholm with massive songs by the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and *NSYNC. A*Teens (short for ABBA Teens) formed in 1998 with Swedish singers Marie Serneholt, Dhani Lennevald, Sara Lumholdt and Amit Paul. Ulvaeus and Andersson let the teenage tribute act record ABBA's tracks, which resulted in 2000's The ABBA Generation album. A*Teens released electro-pop covers of "Queen," "Mamma Mia!" and "Super Trouper," allowing the ABBA's music to flourish against the pop acts of the time and resonate with a new generation of young listeners.
The biggest venture with ABBA music's debuted in London's West End in 1999, a musical called "Mamma Mia!" Producer Judy Craymer worked with Björn and Benny on creating a show built around the lyrics of ABBA's hits. "Mamma" expanded to Broadway in 2001 and continues to tour different countries around the world. After generating billions of dollars in ticket sales, the stage musical was adapted into the hit movie of the same name in 2008 with an all-star cast led by Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried. Exactly ten years later, the sequel "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" premiered this past weekend to similar global success with the addition of pop icon Cher and Andy Garcia covering "Fernando."
After decades of being away, the original members of ABBA are looking toward the future and have been active again in pulling together a planned tour for next year featuring holograms of the band from the late '70s. Fortunately, Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid's time together in the studio has also led to two completely new songs. The ABBA avatars will premiere "I Still Have Faith in You" on an NBC and BBC television special in December. ABBA's timeless tunes will live on and on and on.