New ABBA music will premiere for first time in 35 years
Paying homage to one of the most influential groups of all time, NBC is celebrating Sweden's most popular export with "ABBA: Thank You for the Music, An All-Star Tribute." The two-hour special, set to air in December, will showcase specially invited artists performing classic songs made famous by ABBA, including "Dancing Queen," "Mamma Mia," The Winner Takes It All" and "Take A Chance On Me."
The once-in-a-lifetime event will be broadcast around the world to a global audience.
One of the bestselling music groups of all time, with album and single sales of 380 million, the four members of ABBA - Agnetha Faltskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad - will debut their first new song in 35 years, written by Andersson and Ulvaeus. It is set to be performed by virtual ABBA, a state-of-the-art digital representation of the band in 1979, but voiced and recorded by ABBA today.
Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid said: "The decision to go ahead with the exciting ABBA avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence. 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. And it was like time had stood still and that we only had been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience! It resulted in two new songs and one of them, 'I Still Have Faith In You,' will be performed by our digital selves in a TV special produced by NBC and the BBC aimed for broadcasting in December. We may have come of age, but the song is new. And it feels good."
The telecast will be produced and directed by Johan Renck and executive produced by Simon Fuller, with Es Devlin on board as set designer.
"There is a lot of music in the DNA of NBC and we are so proud that the iconic members of ABBA and world-class producer Simon Fuller chose us to bring this incredible tribute special to the world," said Robert Greenblatt, chairman, NBC Entertainment.
Added Paul Telegdy, president, alternative and reality group, NBC Entertainment, "This network is also thrilled to be the home of brand-new ABBA music for the first time in decades. It's a gift."
Simon Fuller said, "It has been such a pleasure to work with ABBA. To see their unique talent, passion and attention to every detail has been enlightening and a true honor. In this global TV event we will be able to celebrate the music of ABBA and see other incredible artists perform their wonderful songs. I still can't believe we will also be showcasing a new song - the first in over 35 years - which is set to ignite a whole new timeless journey in their incredible career."
Renck said, "As an adult, to find a new relation and perspective to the music that formed your childhood is a formidable thing. I feel tremendously fortunate to engage in this journey with a group that played such an integral part of my upbringing. We can't wait to make this event come to life"
The ABBA story began in the 1960s when Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson first met in Sweden and became songwriting partners. By 1969, they had met Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad and, after musical collaboration on each other's solo and duo acts, they began their career together as ABBA, achieving superstardom with their breakthrough hit "Waterloo," winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, charting at No. 1 across Europe and reaching the Top 10 in the U.S.
In the years that followed, ABBA became successful around the world, releasing eight studio albums, two live albums, seven compilation albums, four tours and 73 singles. To date, they have sold 380 million albums and singles worldwide. They became the first music group from a non-English-speaking country to top the charts in English-speaking countries, and their distinctive '70s-style costumes became synonymous with their unique look and sound.
Topping the charts globally from 1974-82, many of ABBA's songs have become timeless classics internationally. ABBA placed 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with 14 making the Top 40 and 10 soaring to the Top 20. "Dancing Queen" became a No. 1 hit in 1977 in the U.S. while "Take a Chance on Me," "Waterloo" and "The Winner Takes It All" peaked at No. 3, No. 6 and No. 8, respectively. In the U.K., ABBA had nine No. 1 singles, including "Dancing Queen" and "Super Trouper," 19 Top 10 hits and 26 in the Top 40s. Collectively, their singles retained entries in the U.K. Top 75 chart for a total of 260 weeks. They were named Vocal Group of the Year by the American Guild of Variety Artists in 1981 and won nine Bravo Otto Awards between 1974-82. In 2010, Barry and Robin Gibb inducted them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 1999, ABBA's songs were the inspiration for the West End and Broadway hit musical "Mamma Mia!" and the film that followed ("Mamma Mia!") became a box office smash. The 2018 sequel, "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters and Dominic Cooper, is set for global release in July.