Finally facing their 'Waterloo'

eurovisionToday marks the 35th anniversary of ABBA’s historic win of the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo’.

To many people this is the defining moment in ABBA’s history. But is it really?

To countries such as the USA and Australia the ESC meant nothing at the time. ABBA’s emergance was probably the first time that many people outside of Europe had even heard of the contest.

It was the 1975 hits ‘SOS’ and ‘Mamma Mia’ that created the ABBA phenomenon.

So is ‘Waterloo’ and the ESC win really that important to ABBA history?

‘Waterloo’ is completely atypical of what ABBA was capable of. It is nothing like anything else in the ABBA catalogue, except for perhaps ‘Ring Ring’, which was created for the same purpose.

It is true to say that ‘Waterloo’ and the ESC performance was the first time that ABBA really got noticed outside of Europe, especially in the English-speaking world, and without it it’s possible that the later classics may never have gained attention.

But it could also be said that the quality of ‘SOS’ and ‘Mamma Mia’ and then later singles would have become international hits anyway and led to ABBA’s enduring success.


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7 Responses to “Finally facing their 'Waterloo'”

  1. Erik Liebstaedter Says:

    It is possible that the success would come later as it is possible that after two failures at the Eurovision they had abandoned.
    But as best they won the eurovision and they could write hits like SOS and Mamma Mia.

  2. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    This link is GREAT. Check it out!!!

    Copy and paste it to your URL and press enter.

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

  3. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Is Abba’s Agnetha Faltskog finally ready to forgive her bandmates for years of misery?
    By Alison Boshoff
    Last updated at 4:30 PM on 13th July 2008

    Comments (6) Add to My Stories
    Mamma Mia: Abba’s Agnetha Faltskog in her musical heyday

    Given she has a visceral dread of crowds, noise and open spaces, attending the Swedish film premiere of Mamma Mia! last week must have been torture for Agnetha Faltskog.

    Indeed, until the moment she turned up, even Abba’s die-hard fans were dubious that Agnetha – pop’s ultimate sex symbol – would make the journey from her self-imposed exile on one of Stockholm’s rural outlying islands.

    In the event, she looked wonderful, displaying a shock of platinum hair and that gap-toothed smile which makes her instantly recognisable.

    Although she is now a 58-year-old grandmother, she sported the tightest of rock-chick trousers and a white vest – rather rebellious given that her bandmate Anni-Frid was in an evening gown, as were all the cast members.

    She girlishly linked arms with Anni-Frid and the film’s leading lady Meryl Streep. The three of them whirled around on the carpet outside Stockholm’s Hotel Rival, in full glare of the onlooking paparazzi.

    But there the joy stops. Agnetha didn’t pose with her other bandmates, Benny Andersson or Bjorn Ulvaeus – who also happens to be her former husband. And when it came to appearing on the hotel balcony with the cast, Agnetha kept her distance from the men who wrote the songs that made her famous.

    According to a Swedish source: ‘She refused to do the picture which everyone wanted, which was the four of them together.’

    It’s been 21 years since the Abba foursome were seen together in public – and the sticking point has always been Agnetha.

    Admittedly, she came when Mamma Mia! opened in Stockholm three years ago – but walked alone into the theatre, and then alone out of it. She also refused to show up at an event to mark the 30th anniversary of the Abba song Waterloo winning Eurovision.

    Agnetha’s spokesman, Steffan Linde, told me bluntly that, apart from Bjorn and Agnetha bumping into each other at the odd family event, there was really no contact between the band members on any level.

    ‘They do not socialise with each other,’ he snorted. ‘They just happened to come to the same premiere. It was nothing they organised themselves.’

    Leading ladies: Agnetha Faltskog, Meryl Streep and Frida Reuss pose at the premiere of Mamma Mia! in Stockholm

    Mr Linde added that there was no chance of Agnetha being involved with making music with Abba again, and added: ‘The movie people invited all the Abba members separately and all members decided to come.’
    It seems, bizarrely, that Agnetha hates to acknowledge her part in pop history – so much so that she’s known as ‘Garbo the second’ in Sweden. She is reclusive, and told an interviewer that she doesn’t like to go out, doesn’t have many friends and likes to talk to her horses.

    The nickname, though, infuriates her. ‘They spread that I am hiding, that I am the new Greta Garbo. It’s not the way it is. I just want to live in peace and quiet.’

    So why would she turn up to such a public media event, finally – but then refuse to cooperate with the rest of the band? Can she really have conquered her demons after so long?

    Make no mistake, the past 25 years have been difficult for Agnetha. She was emotionally ‘ mangled’ by the split with Bjorn in 1979. They had two children, but divorced while the band was at the peak of its fame. Within a week, Bjorn had a new girlfriend and Agnetha had counselling.

    ABBA’s great, deeply bitter song The Winner Takes It All was written during this period – and she had to find the emotional strength to sing: ‘Tell me does she kiss/Like I used to kiss you?’ After a tour, the band returned to the studio in 1982, but realised that, with both couples now divorced (Benny and Anni-Frid split in 1981), it was no longer any fun being Abba.

    Thank you for the music: The original cast of Abba, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad

    Agnetha now admits she found the closing years miserable. Terrified of flying, after being caught in a storm on a private jet, she was still obliged to tour the world by plane. Today, she hasn’t taken a flight in more than 20 years and is terrified when she knows her family are flying.

    She also found the Abba fans alarming and would have terrible daydreams in which they set upon her and consumed her alive.

    More prosaically, she was troubled by guilt at being away from her children, Linda and Christian, when they were so young. And she was never as at ease socially as the others – her English was not as good, so she sometimes struggled.

    So while Anni-Frid partied, her rival on stage, Agnetha, was in hell: anxious, shy and overwhelmed. No wonder the girls were not always the best of friends. A substantial amount of time has had to pass for Agnetha to forgive her bandmates for their part in her torment.

    Gorel Hanser, who works for Benny and Bjorn, confirms there was no personal appeal to Agnetha to come to the premiere – despite gossips suggesting it was down to Benny, because he owns the Rival Hotel where the event was held. Ms Hanser, who managed the group until it split in 1982, said: ‘Agnetha came because she was invited by the film company. She comes to certain events, but not many, because she does not like to fly, and you just respect that.

    ‘As far as a photo of the four of them together, I don’t know that it was requested or that anyone said “no”. But this was not an Abba event, it was a Mamma Mia! event. They are not pictured as a group for obvious reasons, to not upstage the film.’

    Ms Hanser went on to say that Agnetha attended with her children and some friends, and that her granddaughter Tilda, eight, also came along. ‘They sat at the table next to Bjorn at the party afterwards and everything was fine. It was a great, relaxed evening, everyone had a glass of champagne.’ Indeed, speaking to friends and associates of Agnetha in Stockholm, what becomes clear is that she is finally, but slowly, emerging from her ultra-private existence.

    The influence behind this move, says everyone, is urbane socialite Bertil Nordstrom whom many expect will be her third husband.

    Nordstrom, 64, a close friend of King Gustaf of Sweden, has been dating Agnetha on and off for three years. Not that he will admit it – he told me yesterday: ‘We are not together in any way.’ But pictures of the two of them arm-in-arm at a society party this summer tell their own story, as do eyewitness accounts of them smooching in nightclubs.

    They have been seen out increasingly, with Nordstrom chaperoning her with evident pride. Swedish gossip magazines describe them as ‘love-birds’ and say that they are ‘fascinated’ by one another.

    They are even reported to have bought a £300,000 love nest in Bastad, the seaside resort which hosts the Swedish Open tennis championships.

    ‘Don’t tell me Aggie is going to marry that old fart!’ said one fan on an Abba site, but in truth no one could begrudge her some romantic happiness, especially since under the influence of this wealthy and well connected man she is breaking free of two decades of self-confinement. As for the secrecy and denial? Well, that’s just the way Agnetha likes to do it. One source in Sweden says she is fearful of having her private life exposed, and insists any boyfriend pretends there is no romance.

    It wasn’t always so complicated: Agnetha Faltskog was a shy little girl born in Jonkoping in April 1950. Her father worked in an electrical factory, her mother was a shop cashier.

    Agnetha fell in love with Bjorn Ulvaeus at 19, after meeting him in a cafe. They were married in 1971 and Abba won Eurovision in 1974. They sold 350 million records, and their recent greatest hits compilation album, Abba Gold, stayed in the charts for more than 400 weeks. (Despite this, Agnetha is worth £4million – whereas Bjorn and Benny are worth more than
    £100 million each, thanks to royalties and Mamma Mia!).

    The success was so extreme that Agnetha still has difficulty believing it. ‘It’s nice to look back on it and sometimes I can’t comprehend it.

    It feels like another life.’ After Bjorn came a succession of lovers – including psychiatrist Hakan Lonnback, who had tried to save her marriage. She even had an affair with Stockholm detective Thorbjorn Brander, who had been assigned to her case after kidnap threats towards her children.

    In 1990, Agnetha married for a second time – to divorced surgeon Tomas Sonnenfeld. The marriage was conducted, at Agnetha’s insistence, in secrecy, and became public knowledge only as it disintegrated three years later.

    At this time Agnetha also had to cope with the suicide of her mother Birgit, who threw herself from their sixth-floor flat. A year later, her father died, too, and she felt very alone.

    Again, Agnetha kept everything secret. Her biographer was told her mother died in an accident. Those who are close to her say everything changed from this point, and her reclusiveness became more pronounced. Certainly she must have been troubled as the oddest chapter of her life now followed: an affair with a man who had been stalking her.

    Overweight Dutch forklift truck driver Gert van der Graaf was an Abba fan who had pursued her for two years. She complained to the police, but in 1997 they started a romantic relationship. ‘It was a very intense attention from him and after a while I felt I could not resist any more. I wanted to know him,’ Agnetha said. Two years later, they had split up and by 2000 Agnetha was seeking an exclusion order.

    After the disaster of her dalliance with Gert, she moved deeper into the forest, building a smaller house around a private courtyard garden. Neighbours say she barely exchanges greetings with them.

    For years Agnetha hadn’t sung or even listened to music. But, to general astonishment she released a record in 2004, a collection of Sixties covers, and embarked on some limited publicity for it, saying she yearned to find lasting love.

    The album, My Colouring Book, spent 25 weeks in the charts in Sweden, and then it and she dropped out of public view again. But in 2005, that all seemed to change when a 20-year friendship with Bertil Nordstrom blossomed into romance.

    Nordstrom, a successful businessman, may not look glamorous – permanently besuited, tall, with grey hair and glasses – but he is seriously wealthy. A few weeks ago the happy pair arrived together for a high-society party in Stockholm.

    ‘Agnetha and Bertil are very much in love and it is expected they will marry soon,’ said a source in Sweden.

    Pictures from the party show them looking absolutely the contented couple. But, given Agnetha’s avoidance of the spotlight, you wouldn’t lay bets on Hello! doing the wedding pictures. And Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid probably shouldn’t hold their breath for an invitation.

    Rumors Swirl Over Who Will Fill Jackson’s O2 Dates

    Updated 7:00 PM CDT, Thu, Jul 2, 2009

    Rumors Swirl Over Who Will Fill Jackson’s O2 Dates

    Updated 7:00 PM CDT, Thu, Jul 2, 2009

    An all-star Michael Jackson tribute show? A Jackson family concert, minus Michael? An ABBA reunion?

    The death of the King of Pop has left 50 empty nights at London’s 23,000-seat O2 Arena — and a heady mixture of business hope, hype and wishful thinking is already filling the gap. One week after his demise, however, there is still no firm plan for how to fill one of London’s biggest and most important music venues.

    “At the moment we’re just waiting for the funeral to be out of the way and we’ll let people know in due course,” Lucy Ellison, a spokeswoman for O2 operator AEG Europe, said Thursday. “We’re thinking about Michael Jackson now. We’re just a very small part in this very tragic story.”

    In the absence of firm facts, rumors are swirling about what will fill the dates Jackson was set to perform, starting this month, taking up most of the summer, and even stretching into 2010.

    The Sun newspaper reported Thursday that AEG was talking to 1970s super group ABBA about reuniting to play the O2.

    That seems likely to remain a pop fan’s dream. AEG said the Sun’s story was without foundation, and songwriters Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson have long said the Swedish foursome, who still sell millions of records a year a quarter century after they split up, will never perform together again.

    But, music fans from around the world were full of other suggestions about whom they’d like to see take Jackson’s place onstage.

    Maria Mertzani, 37, a bank teller from Athens, Greece, suggested Whitney Houston, “because they suffer the same pain and deal with the same demons: drugs.”

    Chloe Ego, 22, a T-shirt sales assistant from Milan, Italy, wanted to see Elton John, because “he’d adapt Michael Jackson’s songs to his kind of music.”

    “I’d say Marilyn Manson because he’s really good on covers,” said Novella Ciceri, 22, a leather goods trader, also from Milan.

    The most tenacious report is of a star-studded tribute concert featuring Jackson’s siblings and other music stars.

    Randy Phillips, chief executive of promoter AEG Live, told Britain’s Sky News on Tuesday that such a show was in the works, likely featuring members of Jackson’s family and other stars and using dance routines, sets and costumes created for the singer’s O2 shows.

    No details have been announced, but industry experts say it would be logistically impossible for a tribute show to play more than a few nights at the venue.

    “Fifty nights is absolutely out of the question,” said music writer John Aizlewood. “Nobody in the Jackson family is capable of selling out the O2 for even one night, not even Janet.

    “Bands who are capable of selling out the O2 have a huge turning circle — they have to be booked well in advance.”

    The O2 opened as a concert venue two years ago with a performance by Bon Jovi. In a previous incarnation, the big white tent beside the River Thames was the Millennium Dome, an unloved and unlamented tourist attraction. As a concert venue, it has been a roaring success.

    Prince played 21 dates there in the summer of 2007, a stint that helped inspire Jackson’s marathon run of shows. In December 2007, Led Zeppelin reunited for a one-off gig at the O2, the group’s first concert in more than 25 years.

    Britney Spears, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen have all played the arena, and Madonna is due to open the final leg of her Sticky and Sweet tour at the O2 on Saturday.

    Even without the Jackson shows, the venue will be full for 170 nights in 2009, up from 150 last year.

    “I think for autumn there are artists out there that AEG can find,” said Chris Cooke, editor of British music-business bulletin CMU Daily. “I can’t believe they won’t fill those spaces from September onwards.

    “But it leaves it pretty empty between now and then. For one of the country’s biggest venues, that’s obviously not ideal. … It’s obviously a lost opportunity to have a space that big sit empty for three months.”

    Copyright Access Hollywood

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    Nevil Gibson
    Top films of 2008: Abba hits box office high note (updated)
    Nevil Gibson | Monday December 22 2008 – 02:09pm
    (End of year update) A steady stream of blockbusters and the surprise hit of the Abba-based musical Mamma Mia! have boosted the local cinema industry to better than expected year.

    Mamma Mia!, which followed the earlier staging of the musical in Auckland, emerged as a popular favourite with both critics and audiences, bringing in more than $7.6 million, well above 2007’s top favourite, Shrek The Third.

    Two others in the top 10 also pleased the critics – the Batman thriller The Dark Knight, which is headed for Oscar status, and Pixar’s animated Wall-E (see table below).

    The box office takings are likely to exceed last year’s $151.7 million, helped by some end-of year blockbusters, including the latest James Bond, Quantum of Solace, which has grossed $4.8 million since its release in November, The Day the Earth Stood Still, a remake of the 1950s science fiction classic, and the romantic epic Australia.

    Others doing good holiday business are Twilight, based on the popular teen vampire book, and the cartoon Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (both were among the 10th largest grossing films in the US in 2008).

    Boxing Day releases The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Disney’s Bedtime Stories, which both took around $US40 million on their opening weekend in the US at Christmas, are also expected to do well.

    The biggest Christmas release in the US, Marley and Me, took more than $US50 million on its first weekend, a figure that guarantees its blockbuster success.

    In a poor year for New Zealand films, by far the most popular was Second-Hand Wedding, which took $1.9 million. Of the others, Apron Strings did best at $230,000 while the end-of-year Show of Hands did less than $100,000.

    New Zealand admissions for the year are expected to be steady at around 15 million. As with last year, some of the likely Oscar winners are not expected to hit local screens until after the event in late February, though this year is looking better for timelier releases.

    Apart from already released The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, leading Oscar contenders are Doubt (Jan 15), Revolutionary Road (Jan 22), Frozen River (Jan 22), Milk (Feb 5) and the current favourite, Slumdog Millionaire (Feb 5), an Indian set take on TV’s Millionaire quiz shows by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting).

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    Those interested in more challenging fare can also look forward to W, Oliver Stone’s early life of George W Bush, and further general releases from this year’s festivals, such as Hunger and, one hopes, The Wave, from Germany.

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    Place Title Gross revenue
    1 Mamma Mia! $7.6m
    2 The Dark Knight $6.7m
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    4 Quantum of Solace* $4.8m
    5 Kung Fu Panda $4.6m
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    9 Death at a Funeral $3.4m
    10 Wall-E $3.4m
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  4. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Abba-solutely fab!By Andrew Morrod, The Daily Mail
    Last updated at 17:14 06 February 2008

    Comments (4) Add to My Stories Skopelos: An island so beautiful even the stars fall in love with it…
    There it was. My house. The slatted wooden shutters were still closed against the heat of the day. The cool marble steps up to the veranda were as startlingly bright as ever in the dazzling sunlight.
    And the metal table and chairs stood as though untouched since I’d last sat there nursing a glass of ouzo. It was as though I’d never been away.
    Except that I hadn’t set eyes on this place for nearly 20 years. I had come back, and was now overwhelmed by an avalanche of memories from the long, lazy summer I spent here when the world seemed a much simpler place. Then, as a teenager, I came to Greece on a whim before university with an old friend from home.
    We’d chosen Skopelos – the largest of the Sporades islands, which jut out of the Aegean Sea about halfway up the east coast of Greece – by sticking a pin in the map. But it proved to be a place of beguiling charm and natural beauty beyond our wildest dreams.
    For months we did nothing but swim off the beaches, urge our mopeds to idiotic speeds around the winding coast road, and stuff ourselves silly with Greek salad and the beltbusting local favourite, Skopelos cheese pie (or tyropita) – a sensational circular concoction of bitter local feta cheese encased in crispy filo pastry.
    We even managed to rent our beloved house from a black-clad crone at the top of Skopelos Town – the island’s capital – for almost the whole summer at a cost that would make a travel agent gag.
    In the years since, my thoughts have drifted back to Skopelos, and a part of me has always longed to rediscover the intoxicating pine scents of the forest roads, where the sun casts shafts of light through the trees and down to the beaches below.
    Well, finally I’ve found an excuse to go back. Early last year news leaked out of a big Hollywood movie version of the Abba-inspired musical Mamma Mia!, which tells the story of a young woman and her mother living together on an idyllic Greek island.
    The director, it seems, had hired a helicopter and flown over thousands of miles of coastline – and was captivated by Skopelos. That’s why, last summer, a motley group of A-list stars – including Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Julie Walters – descended on the place to shoot the film. When it’s released in a few months’ time, it might just do for Skopelos what Captain Corelli did for Kefalonia.

    The island of Skopelos is a haven of peaceful beaches

    This, I decided, was the perfect excuse to return to the island before thousands of filmgoers made the same journey.
    Skopelos has maintained a delightful tranquillity because once you have flown direct to the tourist trap that is Skiathos, you have to get on a ferry for a few miles. Most people don’t bother. But, oh boy, is it worth it.
    As I cruised into the dock this time with my wife and threeyearold son, I craned my neck looking for signs of new development or a McDonald’s on the harbour front. But no, it seemed to be just as I had left it, with a strip of 15 or so tavernas and kafenia nestled under the line of soaring plane trees along the waterfront.
    The east coast of the island is all but uninhabited. To the west, though, you will find a string of beaches. Some, like Stafilos, the most popular on the island, are fairly small and always busy. Others, like the great mile-long sweep at Milia, you will have mostly to yourself.
    When I came here as a slothful teenager, I relied on a rackety old moped or the local bus service. Now, thanks to a hire car, I found myself in first gear revving up narrow, precipitous roads deep in the island’s interior, along the edges of verdant valleys in which stands of olives clung to tumbling hillsides.
    High up the side of the muscularly named Mount Dhelfi (which soars up to 2,000ft) we left the car and hiked through a forest of umbrella pines to a high, rocky plateau. Here we found the first footprint of man on Skopelos; the ‘Sendoukia’ – two ancient graves, cut deep into the rock with mighty slabs set on top, at a place where the views in all directions would have had Homer salivating.

    Imagery ©2009 TerraMetrics, Map data ©2009 Basarsoft, Tele Atlas – Terms of UseMapSatelliteHybridHelpPlaces featured in this guide

    We then cruised back towards the sea, eager to rediscover an exquisite little bay called Agnondas, where three tavernas nestle together at the water’s edge. Here we sat, our feet dangling over the water as the waiter brought us the freshly caught fish we’d picked. It was sensational.
    While you will find solitude and peace in many corners of the island, the social hub is inevitably Skopelos Town, where everyone turns out for the evening stroll along the waterfront. This, too, is where the stellar cast of Mamma Mia! relaxed last year.
    At first, the locals pretended not to notice them, and soon enough, they really didn’t, as the actors melted into the pace of life on the island. This is not a place for the self-regarding.
    So what did I conclude about my return to Skopelos? That this homely, truly welcoming island is as unspoiled as it always was – one of the best kept secrets in Greece.
    There are now luxurious villas if you want to splash out, as well as budget apartments.
    It might be another 20 years before I return, but I know that when I do, I’ll seek out my old house once more and the moment I set eyes on it, it’ll seem as if I’ve never been away.
    Travel facts
    Thalpos Holidays is the specialist local holiday company. To book, visit, or call 00 30 242 402 9036. First Choice flies to Skiathos (return flights from London Gatwick and Manchester). For further information, visit or call 0871 664 9020.

    Super Trooper
    SHELLEY MARSDEN meets Niamh Perry, the 19-year-old girl from Bangor, Co Down who is the new star of Mamma Mia… – 02/07/09

    Niamh Perry has just finished her first week on her first West End show (Mamma Mia, the exuberant musical set to the score to Abba’s greatest hits) – and she still hasn’t come down.

    Originally from Bangor, Co Down, Perry first came to our notice as a finalist on the reality show I’d Do Anything, but even she didn’t think then that she’d end up in one of the biggest shows in London theatre land.

    Sitting in her dressing room with an aromatic candle burning, and surrounded by cards, flowers and balloons from friends, family and well-wishers, the grinning, chatty teen looks remarkably different to the pale-skinned, slightly edgy contestant we saw on our TV screens.

    Whipping out a lip gloss and smearing it on her lips, the 19-year-old brunette confesses that playing Sophie – has changed her off-stage – from “slightly goth” to a perma-tanned teen who wears bright clothes as she’s lost the habit of dressing in black!

    So how’s the West End then?

    It’s everything I imagined and more. It’s hard work though. I’m in the show pretty much all the time, and there are quick changes. The show’s over, then there’s a three-song Abba medley and I’m straight back out in a new costume!

    How did it all come about?

    I went to the audition and sang a Take That song [Love Ain’t Here Any More], they called me back on Friday to sing two ‘Sophie’ songs and do two different scenes with Sky, and they phoned me on Friday night to say I had the job and was to start rehearsals on Monday. I started straight into five weeks of rehearsals and then the show and here I am!

    What do you bring to the part that’s different?

    I know that on this show the team are very conscious of making it different every year, keeping it fresh. I know I’m very different from any Sophie that’s been before me, but so have all the other Sophies! I think I’m a little bit more edgy. God, I’m so pale and they’ve covered me in fake tan. They’ve completely changed me. I normally wear black all the time but I’m not allowed to wear black –see? I have this brightly coloured dress on. I’ve been Sophie-ed!

    What are your favourite bits in the show?

    I love it all. I love the song ‘Lay All Your Love’ which I perform with Sky – because then all the male ensemble come on in wetsuits and flippers and it’s very funny and the audience love it. I love the wedding as well, and ‘The Name of the Game’, which is my solo. It’s my favourite Abba song.

    When did your love of theatre and music begin?

    I was actually classically trained, from the age of about 11. I wanted to be an opera singer initially, and I did that up till I was about 16, and then kind of stumbled into musical theatre. Being in I’d Do Anything just happened – my cousin put the application form down on the table beside my dinner on Christmas day! They always knew it’s something I’d have loved to do, but I needed that encouragement I think to go there.

    It hasn’t damaged you too much not winning!

    Obviously I was disappointed, but in things just couldn’t be any better. Jodi (Prenger) is brilliant as Nancy – in hindsight, she probably would have done the best job out of all of us. Look at us all; Rachel [Tucker] is amazing in We Will Rock You; Samantha [Barks] is brilliant in Cabaret; Jessie [Buckley] amazing in A Little Night Music. Everybody’s gone on to do really good stuff.

    Would you be here now without that show?

    I would have been hopeful at this stage to have got into stage school, and maybe have completed my first year. I’ve literally skipped five or six years. I have to thank my exposure on TV, and I’m constantly surrounded by people who are sceptical about the way I got here, but theatre has become such a huge deal that one of the ways of getting there these days is through reality TV.

    For me, ‘Nancy’ was both the best and worst experience – worst, because it was so overwhelming that I didn’t take a step back and enjoy things as much as I could have.

    n Is Andrew Lloyd Webber a mentor?

    Yes, I trust him completely with my career. He gives me totally honest advice, and I know it’s good ‘cos it’s not all necessarily in his favour! He took Jessie and I out for dinner a couple of weeks ago, and there was no need, it was just to catch up with us. He’s a generous person who is very normal. The more famous you are, from what I’ve seen, the more normal you are. It’s the people that are half way up the ladder and think they’re famous that aren’t as genuine.

    For the remainder of this article, see this week’s Irish World…

    Niamh Perry is in the cast of Mamma Mia at Prince of Wales Theatre, London until Dec 09. For tickets, visit or call Box Office, on 0844 482 5115.

    ABBA Love Affair Continues in Shanghai
    2008-05-06 13:07:58 Shanghai Daily

    ABBA tribute band Waterloo will perform at the Majestic Theater in Shanghai on May 20 and 21.

    Waterloo calls it the “ABBA the Show” tour and has performed around the world since starting in 1996 in Stockholm, Sweden.

    Original ABBA member Benny Andersson will send his son Ludvig Andersson to Shanghai for the shows. Ludvig will sing both English and Chinese songs and address the audience with a letter written by his father.

    Xu Feng, manager of Majestic Theater, said Waterloo will explain, in English, what each song is about and added that there will be a multi-media broadcast of actual ABBA shows to heighten the reality of the performance.

    A total of 15 ABBA-hits such as “Waterloo,” “Dancing Queen,” “King King,” “I Have a Dream,” “Honey, Honey” and “Mamma Mia” will be presented in the 90-minute show.

    Former ABBA saxophone player, Uffe Andersson, was Waterloo’s guest of honor at its very first show in a small club in Stockholm.

    ABBA was one of the most successful groups in Europe during the 1970s and still sells about 2 million records every year.

    ABBA’s songs are familiar to people in Shanghai after the all-ABBA musical “Mamma Mia!” was staged last year at Shanghai Grand Theater.

    Tickets for the Waterloo shows are priced from 180 yuan (US$25.7) to 800 yuan.

    By Michelle Qiao

    Review: SingStar: ABBA
    Rated G for PS3/PS2

    Last updated 16:31 24/12/2008SharePrint Text Size

    I’m at once thrilled and appalled by the prospect of Singstar Abba. My initial thought process on the subject went something like this:

    1. Abba songs on Singstar. Perfect!

    2. A whole Singstar game of Abba? Oh God…

    3. I have to review this game?! Someone bring me a stiff drink.

    It was clear to me that Abba in Singstar was a solid prospect: perhaps it has finally penetrated the minds of Singstar decision-makers that karaoke isn’t about great quality tunes – it’s about the tacky and the trashy; well-known, lowest-common-denominator nostalgia; and especially love-to-loathe classics.

    Abba ticks pretty much all the boxes. We’ve heard the songs too many times. But, embarrassingly enough, we also know most of the words. And when I say we, I mean you, too.

    What was not clear to me, however, was that dominating one’s entire evening with singing along to Sweden’s most famous export was a recipe for fun. I was very scared that I would be reviewing a very niche product, and that I was not in the niche. Surely just singing Abba songs would get old… Any band is going to tire, being centre stage all night. And are there really enough big hits to fill up the tracklist?

    There aren’t enough good songs. But then, any given Singstar title only manages to interest me with about half its songs – so Abba’s doesn’t really lose points on that front. What’s more, I’m pretty surprised by the quality of the songs. Sure, they are pretty naf – but they aren’t nearly as bad as the levels of embarrassment associated with liking them.

    There is a reason this bad music was so popular. And, as a bonus, there is a shocking level of variety in there: slow ballads, upbeat pop numbers; some songs (many, actually) too high for me, but also a fair number that were well in my range.

    We managed to tear through over half the songs before my voice starting shutting down from overexposure to my bad falsetto. We were anything but bored. The songs are fun, the videos are hilariously bad, and a good time was had by all involved.

    However, in spite of having a good time singing along, I can’t see this as a Singstar disc I’m putting in repeatedly. There are too many people who are not Abba fans – who are, in fact, violently opposed to having to listen to Abba.

    But, more to the point, unless you’re specifically having a Swedish pop revival night, it’s too much Abba. I’m glad The Winner Takes It All is now an option …but I’m scared of losing all my friends by unleashing this disc in any kind of party environment.

    Ad Feedback Which leads me to the crucial point here: this is a great idea for a song pack. Granted, that’s not an option for PS2 – but why on earth did we need a separate disc for this on PS3?!

    …Oh. That’s right. Your other music was ashamed to be seen next to it.

    2.Dancing Queen
    3.Does Your Mother Know
    5.Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
    6.Happy New Year
    7.Head Over Heels
    8.I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do
    9.Knowing Me, Knowing You
    10.Mamma Mia
    11. Money, Money, Money
    12. One Of Us
    13. Ring Ring
    14. SOS
    15. Summer Night
    16. Super Trouper
    17. Take A Chance On Me
    18. Thank You For The Music
    19. The Day Before You Came
    20. The Name Of The Game
    21. The Winner Takes It All
    22. Under Attack
    23. Voulez-Vous
    24. Waterloo
    25. When All Is Said And Done


    SUPER TROOPER: Singstar ABBA is plays off the popularity of the hit film Mama Mia, and may be a good Christmas pick for the female gamer in your life.

  5. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Ten Tenors Hobart boundKANE YOUNG

    January 24, 2009 09:52am

    AUSTRALIAN “popera” sensations The Ten Tenors are coming to Hobart.

    One of Australia’s most successful musical exports, the Ten Tenors have performed at some of the world’s most prestigious venues such as London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

    With millions of fans and albums sold in 27 countries, The Ten Tenors yesterday announced a tour of Australia which includes their first Tasmanian show on July 7.

    Formed at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1995 by students keen to make some pocket money, the ensemble has gone on to enjoy global fame.

    One of the keys to the group’s success has been a unique combination of traditional opera and contemporary pop music, with songs by ABBA, Queen and The Bee Gees featuring in their shows.

    Tenor Graham Foote, 23, said yesterday the Hobart show would take audiences on “a musical journey through the 20th century, from where opera left off through to the 1980s”.

    “It goes from neo-classical Italian music through to songbook-style music from the 1940s and 1950s, through to classic rock from the 1950s and 1960s, and then a hilariously camp 1980s medley — including a load of tragic 1980s acts like Van Halen and Wham! — to cap it all off.”

    The Ten Tenors play at the Derwent Entertainment Centre on July 7. Tickets go on sale on February 6.

  6. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Princess Diana’s Butler Charged With Theft

    Friday, May 22nd, 2009

    British police on Thursday charged a former butler of the late Princess Diana with the theft of 342 items from her former Kensington Palace residence.
    Paul Burrell, 42, from Farndon in Cheshire, northwest England, faces three charges of theft, Scotland Yard said.
    The charges relate to a total of 342 items reportedly worth 5 million pounds (7 million U.S. dollars), which were said to have been stolen on or before June 30 1998 at Kensington Palace, her former London home.
    Burrell has been on bail since he was arrested on suspicion of theft in January.
    He was charged after answering bail at West End Central police station in London on Thursday. He is due to appear on bail at Bow Street Magistrates Court on Friday.
    Burrell has denied any impropriety and has maintained the items were given to him by his employer.
    Among the six items allegedly stolen from the Prince of Wales were an Indiana Jones bullwhip and a white metal pepper grinder.
    Hundreds of items allegedly stolen from the estate of the Princess of Wales include ornaments, letters, hats, handbags, and photographs.
    Several CDs and vinyl records were also on the list issued by the Metropolitan Police, including ones by Abba, Tina Turner, Chris de Burgh, Michael Jackson, Supertramp and Leo Sayer.
    Burrell, who is married with two children, joined the Wales’s staff in 1986 and he stayed with the princess after the couples’ divorce in 1996.
    He became the princess’s friend and confidant and was famously known by her as “my rock” and “the only man I can trust.”
    When she was killed in a car crash in August 1997 he flew to France to help prepare her body before Prince Charles and her sisters arrived.
    In September 1997, he was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal by the Queen in recognition of his service to the Royal Family and the Princess of Wales.
    He became fund-raising manager for the Diana, Princess of Wales, Memorial Fund but was made redundant in 1998

  7. Samuel Inglles Says:

    ABBA Takes All-Time Eurovision Crown, Interview with Benny Andersson
    Author: Eric Olsen — Published: Oct 23, 2005 at 1:02 pm 3 comments

    The Eurovision Song Contest celebrated its 50th year of foisting remarkably denatured euro-pop on the euro-masses last night with a Celebration program live from Copenhagen, the centerpiece of which was a vote on the greatest Eurovision song of all time.

    The finalists were:

    “Nel blu, di pinto di blu (Volare)” – Domenico Modugno – Italy, 1958
    “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” – France Gall – Luxemburg, 1965
    “Congratulations” – Cliff Richard – UK, 1968
    “Eres tu” – Mocedades – Spain, 1973
    “Waterloo” – Abba – Sweden, 1974
    “Save your kisses for me” – Brotherhood of Man – UK, 1976
    “What’s another year” – Johnny Logan – Ireland, 1980
    “Ein bisschen Frieden” – Nicole – Germany, 1982
    “Hold me now” – Johnny Logan – Ireland, 1987
    “Ne partez pas sans moi” – Céline Dion – Switzerland, 1988
    “Diva” – Dana International – Israel, 1998
    “Fly on the wings of love” – Olsen Brothers – Denmark, 2000
    “Everyway that I can” – Sertab Erener – Turkey, 2003
    “My Number One” – Helena Paparizou – Greece, 2005

    With a mix of video footage of the original performances, live dancing and medleys, the “most memorable moments” of the Eurovision Song Contest were brought back to life.

    That Abba’s “Waterloo” represents the gritty, rocking edge of this material is perhaps all one needs to know, but at least the voting—split between the public and the “national juries” of the 31 participating nations—recognized this and gave the Swedish superstars of the ’70s and ’80s the victory.

    I had a great time talking with half of the ABBA brain trust, Benny Andersson, a few years ago.

    The Swedish pop group ABBA was the world’s most successful in the ’70s –
    selling tens of millions of records by combining lush group vocals and gorgeous
    Euro-melodies with rock and disco rhythms. The group’s lyrics ranged from silly to touching, many reflecting the real-life romantic complications within the group, a la Fleetwood Mac: songwriter/producer/guitarist Bjorn Ulvaeus was married to and divorced from singer Agnetha Faltskog, and songwriter/producer/keyboardist Benny Andersson was married to and divorced from singer Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad during the life of the group.

    ABBA was dismissed by many (especially in America) as Swedish cheese, but the group’s best songs (“Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance On Me,” “Lay All Your Love On Me,” “SOS”) have aged well and stand alongside the Beach Boys and Phil Spector’s girl groups at the pinnacle of pop rock.

    Born December 16, 1946, in Stockholm, Benny came from an accordion-slinging family and he picked up the squeeze box at age six. Piano and Elvis followed soon thereafter and by 13, Benny was in a rock ‘n’ roll band, the Hep Stars, which by the early ’60s was Sweden’s most popular, playing the latest hits from America, sung in English.

    The group grew weary of covers, and out of desperation Benny wrote “No Response,” which rose to No. 2 and launched a songwriting career. Benny produced hits for the Fabulous Four and the DJs on the side. “I always enjoyed being in the studio once I found out the possibilities,” says Benny. “It’s a nice environment to be in.”

    Bjorn, born April 25, 1945, in Gothenburg, played in a folk group, the Hootenanny Singers. Pop music circles being small in Sweden, Benny and Bjorn met and began writing and producing together by the late ’60s. On one project, they enlisted their girlfriends, Agnetha and Frida, Swedish singing stars in their own right, to help out on background vocals on what turned out to be a hit single “People Need Love.”

    Benny admits that “the girls sounded 600 hundred percent better than we did,” and the seed of ABBA was planted. In 1974, the quartet (named “Bjorn, Benny, Anna and Frida” to capitalize on the their individual popularity in Scandinavia) entered the Eurovision Song Contest with the rousing “Waterloo,” and became the first Swedish group to win. Spurred by the show’s massive television audience, the song became an instant international hit. Having hit through Eurovision also carried a stigma, and it took the band about a year, and a name change, to be accepted as the real thing.

    That acceptance came hardest in America. “We didn’t do well in America, did we?” says Benny. “Not compared to people who actually go there and do their interview stuff and work their asses off. We’ve done OK, a couple of platinum albums, but only one No. 1 single, ‘Dancing Queen.'” Success is relative, of course. ABBA did score 10 top 20 singles in America between 1974 and their breakup in 1982.

    Benny took his production cues from America. “The biggest inspiration for me as a producer was definitely Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys,” he says. “There has always been a lot of vocals in American music. This is a tradition you had long before the Beach Boys. Wilson used vocals in a rhythmic way and added layer upon layer. Also Phil Spector, he’s another guy who makes as much sound as possible come out of the smallest speaker. We tried to do that with ABBA. The human voice is the finest instrument.”

    Benny is most comfortable producing his own work. “If one guy writes a tune and another guy comes in to produce it, it takes a long talk to correspond the feelings between them. It’s a lot of responsibility, which is why I think it is nicer to stay with the song I write myself. I would never let anyone else produce what I write. It isn’t necessarily the best way to do it, but at least it comes out the way I wanted to do it at the time.”

    Benny is proudest of “Dancing Queen” and “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” which
    he says “are both good songs and well produced, although I have done
    plenty of corny things as well.”

    Benny has mixed feelings about the advance of technology in the studio. I just bought a Solid State Logic 9000 console and you touch a button and it does what you want. Now it’s easy to work yourself step-by-step forward, and in that respect I think it’s good. In the ’60s and ’70s, when you had to do a mixdown, there were three guys trying to concentrate on fifty different things. You’d always miss something.”

    ABBA has lived on in recorded form through the ’90s, with two collections charting in the U.S. and eight (including two No. 1s) charting in the U.K. Agnetha and Frida had several solo hits in the ’80s, and Bjorn and Benny co-wrote the musical Chess with Tim Rice in 1984, which produced Murray Head’s punchy electro-pop ditty “One Night in Bangkok.”

    Now, of course, there is Mamma Mia, the smash musical based upon 22 ABBA songs, which opened in London in 1999 and came to Broadway in 2001. The story takes place on a Greek island, where 20-year-old Sophie is to be married. Sophie is loved by her mother, Donna, but she is unsure who her father is. So, she looks into her mom’s diary, chooses three former lovers as likely candidates, and invites them to the wedding, thinking she will figure it out when she sees them – shenanigans ensue. Over 20 million have seen the show in six years. The ABBA magic has not abated.

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