New Benny and Björn song

2nd Best To NoneA brand new song written by Benny and Björn had its debut today on the newly updated website for Benny’s Hotel Rival in Stockholm.

‘2nd Best To None’ is sung by “The Rivals”, the staff of the Rival Hotel.

With music by Benny and lyrics by Björn the song sounds like a cousin of ABBA’s 1982 recordings ‘I Am The City’, ‘Under Attack’ and ‘You Owe Me One’ with the female choir sound of ‘Klinga mina klockor’ and even a hint of Benny’s infamous birdsong album Fågelsång i Sverige

I’m excited that in a little over three weeks I’ll be staying at the Rival and will hopefully be treated “2nd to none”!

See the clip now at rival.se. Keep an eye out for Benny, in the grey jacket towards the back of the crowd on the stage.

‘2nd Best To None’ is available to download at CDON or Bengans (available only to some territories). Word has it that a CD single will be available soon.

More information:
ABBA The Official Site
Mono Music

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3 Responses to “New Benny and Björn song”

  1. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    Have a safe trip to and from Sweden.

    I know you will have a wonderful and joyful time there.

    I hope you will run into all members of ABBA and get all their autographs, maybe in an elevator at Benny’s Rival Hotel!

    Here’s two articles on visiting Sweden.

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

    * The Sun-Herald – Sunday, 7 September 2008 (Pages 32 & 33)

    The guide: Budget Stockholm

    How Swede it is on the cheap

    Despite its reputation as a budget-breaker, Stockholm can be done on a shoestring, writes Belinda Jackson.

    We love Stockholm for its great design ethos, bottle blondes, midnight sun and for giving the world ABBA’s Benny Andersson, but many skip this hip Scandinavian city because of its price tag. With a few tricks you can prune your pocket for a more affordable break in the Swedish capital.

    Eating

    The cheapest way to get a hot daily meal is to do as the locals do and embrace dagens ratt, which translates as “daily special”. At midday Swedes down tools and pack the country’s cafes and restaurants for the dagens ratt.

    Expect to pay between SEK65-75 ($11-$13) for a plate that often features fish and potatoes or meat and potatoes, with a salad bar, bread and brewed coffee thrown in.

    The salad bars range from a few limp leaves to celebrations that give vegetarians hope for a meat-free holiday, such as the excellent Grillska Husets cafe at Stortorget 3, in the heart of touristy Gamla Stan, which also serves soup and the salad bar for SEK70. Most cafes advertise their special on blackboards outside the front door. Come early or miss out. You can also fill up on the local version of McDonald’s, Max, which is often conveniently located opposite their American rivals. Cheeseburgers cost SEK10. Otherwise, drop into the subterranean food hall at Hotorgshallen (near T-bana Hotorget) for cheap, healthy Mediterranean sandwiches from SEK35 or stock up on picnic packs and takeaway sushi.

    Drinking

    Drinking is the curse of the budget traveller in Scandinavia, with Stockholm’s hip bars charging about SEK95 ($17.50) for spirits and cocktails. Does it make you feel any better than the locals feel the same way?

    That’s why they charge up at home before going out and you can often spot a few party-goers knocking back their off-licence gains outside clubs. When inside, sticking to beer is a better option, though you’re still likely to pay about SEK50 for a half litre. Use your duty-free allowance on the way in-your hosts will love you for it – and get familiar with the Systembolaget, the state-controlled bottle shops. Note that you have to be over 20 to buy alcohol.

    Opening hours have relaxed in recent years but they close at 3pm on Saturdays and are shut on Sundays, so a little forward planning is required. An interesting side note: in a country that will happily charge $20 for a bottle of Jacob’s Creek wine, cask wine is not sniffed at.

    Sightseeing

    The Stockholm Card starts from SEK330 ($60) for a one-day card and gets you into 75 of the city’s museums and sights, and includes free public transport. From January last year, many museums that were free, such as the Moderna Museet, charge up to SEK80 for an adult (free if you are under 18), so the card is now even better value.

    It also gives you free tours on the Stockholm Sightseeing Boat, a free English guidebook and discounts on the Royal Canal Tour, which leaves from Stromkajen, and the Historic Canal Tour from Stadshusbron, which is a great way to see this island city from the water.

    Shopping

    Stockholm’s high streets are paeans to Scandinavian design, and although we love it, it’s not exactly the place for cheap cruising. Happily, Sweden loves a good op shop and many of the big clothing labels are hanging from the racks of their truly awesome second-hand shops at great prices.

    Snap up a pair of Bjorn Borg boots for $20 or Versace jeans for $30. Retro ceramics are easy to come by and the designer clothing sections are often marked for easy finds.

    Funds raised from the Stockholm Stadsmission go to helping the city’s homeless. See http://www.stadmissionen.se for locations of their six shops. Otherwise, the strip on Upplandsgaten near Odenplan (T-bana Odenplan) is fertile ground for second-hand shops, as is the funky, retro-loving SoFo (south of Folkungagatan), and the Renstiernas Gata end of Bondegarten, both on the city island of Sodermalm. “Street”, as the name implies, is a street market held every second weekend during Summer, with plenty of handmade jewellery, small fashion labels and interesting junk at reasonable prices on Hornstulls Strand 4. See http://www.streetinstockholm.se

    Staying in touch

    If you’ve got your laptop with you, you can tap into free wi-fi in Kungstradgrden, while internet cafes charge from $3.50 per hour.

    Getting there

    SAS does cheap flights from London once you’re within Europe – you can snap up a London-Stockholm flight for about $100. The website lets you book and pay in your local currency, so there are no nasty shocks when you read your credit card bill back at home. See http://www.flyas.com

    Public transport

    A single on Stockholm’s super-efficient subway, the Tunnelbana (stations are marked by a T at street level), costs a whooping SEK80. Far better are the strips available at the stations or Pressbyrans (convenience booths), for SEK160 – ask for a remsa, which will give you eight trips in and around the city on the T-bana and buses.

    Otherwise the Stockholm Card, a sightseeing card, includes free public transport.

    If you really want to get into the Swedish lifestyle, you can hire a bike for three hours for SEK25 during Summer from 6am-6pm and cruise the streets like a local.

    Remember that Swedes drive and ride on the right side of the road. You can grab a bike at about 70 locations across the city. See http://www.stockholmcitybikes.se for more information.

    Accommodation

    Weekend getaways are welcome bonus for budget travellers, as hotel rooms are much cheaper on Saturday and Sunday nights.

    >TRIP NOTES

    * GETTING THERE: Scandinavian Airlines flies daily to Stockholm from Australia with selected partners, phone 1300 727 707, see http://www.flysas.com.au

    * CURRENCY AND VISAS: Sweden uses the Krona. $1=SEK5.43 approximately. Australian tourists don’t need a visa to visit Sweden.

    * GETTING AROUND: For the latest on what’s happening in Stockholm, see http://www.stockholmtown.com My planet Australia runs independent and escorted tours and cruises, activity tours and sightseeing in Stockholm, phone (02) 9020 5800, see http://www.myplanetaustralia.com

    * GUIDEBOOKS: Lonely planet’s Encounter series for Stockholm is a handy, budget friendly, pocket-sized guide ($13.99) while Wallpaper’s equally petite Stockholm city guide lets you peer into the best windows ($12.95).

    Photos [AFP, photolibrary.com]: Stockholm syndrome…(clockwise from top left) shopping for ecological clothes, the touristy Gamla Stan district, daily specials at a local café, getting around town is easy on a tram.

    * The Sunday Telegraph – Sunday, 22 March 2009 (Pages 6 & 7)

    Escape: Europe Special – http://www.sundaytelegraph.com.au/escape

    Capital views from Heaven

    Stockholm has a swinging new style, reports Ewen Bell.

    If you’re going to fly all the way to Scandinavia you’ll need two things: a really comfortable seat on the plane and a very special city to make the long journey worth the while.

    The Swedish capital of Stockholm has been popular with travelers for almost 500 years, but this is an old city full of young people keen to add a touch of chic to the Nordic norms.

    Gustav Otterberg is just 26 years old and he’s head chef at Leijontornet, in the old town of Stockholm called Gamla Stan.

    I generally don’t expect cuisine in Sweden to vary greatly from salad and salmon, but my expectations prove woefully inadequate as I am presented with a contemporary version of perch and potatoes that would make Gordon Ramsay bite his tongue.

    The new flavours of Scandinavia melt in my mouth and I think to myself: I wonder what the king of Sweden is having for lunch today?

    Leijontornet exemplifies the blend of old and new that makes the old town of Stockholm unique.

    Downstairs, the kitchen is run by a dynamic culinary prodigy who earned them a Michelin star-rating earlier this year, while upstairs the Victory Hotel is a five-star favourite that retains centuries of heritage as one of Stockholm’s oldest buildings.

    Stately rooms are influenced by royal themes and nautical tones. Photographs of long-departed sea captains sit above the beds, proudly gazing past the curtains to the cobble-stoned streets below.

    The click-clack of horses hoofs once echoed on those streets, but has since been replaced by the clack-click of high-heel shoes.

    Fashion on and off the streets of Stockholm is serious business, with designer boutiques and accessories peeking from behind medieval façades. Organic clothing, hand-made glass beads and screenprint textiles top the shopping list of fussy fashion hunters.

    Gamla Stan is easily one of Europe’s most beautiful old towns, because it’s a living town. Residents still walk their dogs to the park every day, carry home the groceries and share a hot chocolate and cake with their neighbours. For every shop window at the street level there are a dozen apartments and studios upstairs.

    The stores are not just for tourists, either – a seductive selection of homewares, furniture and other quirky Swedish necessities are artfully displayed in shop windows.

    Cafes of Gamla Stan are busy with locals who take advantage of lunch specials such as smörgas and Kaffe (a sandwich and coffee).

    When you choose accommodation on the island of Gamla Stan you are within walking distance of almost everything Stockholm has to offer. Visitors can also use the network of trains, trams and ferries that link Gamla Stan to the wider city and other islands in the Stockholm archipelago.

    For $110, a three-day Stockholm Card gets you riding the rails and water, and includes entrance to more than 75 museums and attractions. Canal tours are included, so you can also see Gamla Stan from the water.

    Ferries connect the old town with the islands of Skeppsholmen and Stockholm’s Moderna Museet (Museum of Modern Art). The galleries of Gamla Stan are filled with contemporary art of the highest order, but the charmingly antiquated ferries are more recently designed than most exhibits at Moderna Museet.

    Expect to be immersed in classical paintings by Europe’s masters, sculptures by obscure Nordic artists and photographic collection exploring 20th-century life in Sweden. The definition of modern in this instance includes any artist born after 1870.

    There are some genuinely contemporary elements at Moderna Museet, such as experimental films and the exquisite architecture of the building itself. Rafael Moneo was the winning architect for the design project and, for 10 years, the abstract lanterns that light the interior have been a talking point for visitors – almost as much as the art.

    Another ferry connects the esplanades of Skeppsholmen to the crowd-pulling attractions at Djurgarden, where your Stockholm Card can get a decent workout. Lined up along the waterfront are an aquarium, amusement park and Junibacken – and interactive museum for children that celebrates the fictional character of Pippi Longstocking.

    Grown ups can also have some fun at Vasa Museet, resting place of an ill-fated 17th-century warship. The Vasa was an ambitious three-storey sailing ship adorned with gruesome, troll-like figures and more timber work than all the saunas in Sweden. So extravagant was the construction that on its maiden voyage the boat listed to one side and sank.

    This may have been a low point in Sweden nautical design but, more than 300 years later, the remaining pieces of the sunken vessel were gathered up and restored to their original glory. If you liked Pirates Of The Caribbean, you’ll love the Vasa Museet.

    To the North of Djurgarden, the modern world awaits once more at Östermalm. If you can fight your way past the fashionista and their label-lust for designer apparel, your reward will be culinary heaven at Östermalmshallen – an undercover market filled with food stores and specialist seafood cafes.

    I must admit to allowing indulgence to get the better of common sense. By the time my lunch was over. I had to take the train back to Gamla Stan instead of walking.

    While the trendy shops are located to the north of Gamla Stan, the urban artists are just to the south, Södermalm is a creative enclave and home to the city’s best new artists. The design emphasis here is about locals not labels. Alternative cultures, bohemian artists and student accommodation all add to the “south of centre” style.

    In Södermalm’s design district is Kvadrat, a commission store for creations by local designers with an emphasis on home and heart. Materials for their modern masterpieces include glass, porcelain, silver and silk. Designs are typically Swedish, with simple motifs, tasteful use of colour and a touch of modern influence.

    The streets surrounding Kvadrat are also alive with talent, dotted with artist studios where fine pottery and timber crafts are displayed, second-hand clothing stores are hidden in basements, and candle-lit cafes sell cupcakes and comics.

    Södermalm stores are devilishly tempting, but the nightlife is pure Heaven. That’s the name of Stockholm’s best bars, called “Himlen”. To get to Heaven you simply find office tower at 78 Gotgatan St, the former city tax office. A drab and dour building from the outside, it’s divinely decked with cocktails inside.

    Heaven is found on the top floor, naturally, offering the best views of Stockholm and only for the price of a vodka and lime. Unlike the Ice Bar across town you don’t need a snow jacket to stay warm, and the dinner menu is on par with the scenery.

    From the bar I can see the lights of Gamla Stan and the colourful dome of its cathedral. I’m happy the people of Stockholm have preserved so much of their heritage, but its even better when mixed with a few modern aesthetics.

    Photos: Old and new – Clockwise from top, a ferry off Gamla Stan island in Stockholm; a guard of the crown outside the Royal Palace; an artist works while waiting for customers; yellow walls line a Gamla Stan street.

    Photos: Delights – A ferry carries passengers between islands around Stockholm, and (far left) a Gamla Stan café advertises its wares.

    DESTINATION – Stockholm

    Getting there: Several airlines fly Sydney to Stockholm with stopovers, including Qantas, Malaysian Airlines, Thai, Scandinavian and Cathay Pacific. Scandinavian flies daily, from $2980; 1300 727 707, http://www.flysas.com.au

    Stay: The Victory Hotel in Gamla Stan offers five-star comforts upstairs, Michelin-star dining downstairs. From $400 with breakfast; http://www.slh.com

    More: My Planet Australia includes Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen in its 8-day Viking Tour, from $1670. 1800 221 712, http://www.myplanetaustralia.com.au

    *The writer was a guest of Scandinavian Airlines and Small Luxury Hotels.

  2. Samuel Inglles Says:

    Hi Ian

    A B&B article!

    Kind Regards
    Samuel Inglles

    http://www.cbc.ca/arts/music/story/2009/05/08/abba-andersson-ulvaeus.html

    Former Abba songwriters release new tracks

    Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus collaborating more than 15 years after Abba fame

    Friday, May 8, 2009 | 5:55 PM ET

    Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, the writing talent behind the 1970s supergroup Abba, are a pop partnership again — producing the first new tracks they’ve written together in more than 15 years.

    Second Best to None, which has been released as a single in Sweden, was written for the staff at the Hotel Rival, the Stockholm hotel that Andersson owns. It is performed by the hotel staff, many of whom sing in amateur choirs in Stockholm.

    Story of a Heart will be released as the title track of an upcoming album by the Benny Andersson Band, which features songs inspired by Swedish folk music. Ulvaeus wrote the song’s Swedish lyrics and translated them into English for the album’s release in Britain on July 6. Helen Sjoholm, one of the group’s vocalists, sings the song.

    “It’s a nice prospect to be able to release music I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, which is folk-oriented,” Andersson told BBC News.

    Andersson and Ulvaeus’s first names represent the two Bs in the middle of ABBA. They formed the group with Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, whose first names represent the two As.

    Abba sold more than 370 million records worldwide. Famous for hits such as Waterloo and Dancing Queen, the group’s music has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity thanks to the hit movie Mamma Mia last year.

    Photo: Bjorn Ulvaeus, left, and Benny Andersson are seen at a screening of the movie Mamma Mia at the American Film Festival in Deauville, France, last September. (Michel Spingler/Associated Press)

  3. Samuel Inglles Says:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/neilmccormick/9739308/The_return_of_ABBA/

    The return of ABBA

    By Neil McCormick Music Last updated: May 8th, 2009

    10 Comments

    My feelings about ABBA are well known. A little too well know, actually, since my last witterings on the subject resulted in a kind of virtual ABBA fatwa. Having just recently been given the all clear by my security detail to emerge from hiding and resume normal daily activities without imminent fear of attack by blonde bewigged assassins in blue eyeshadow and glittery stoles wielding lethal platform boots, I approach the subject of the Swedish supergroup with considerable caution.

    Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus Picture: EPA

    I really don’t want to set the militant branch of the ABBA fanclub off again, so I am going to let Benny and Bjorn’s latest, er, masterpiece speak for itself.

    You will no doubt be excited to learn hear that the ABBA songwriting duo (who many correspondents with this blog have claimed are composers of such melodic flair, lyrical wit, philosophical insight and pop invention that they put Lennon and McCartney to shame) have written their first pop song together in 15 years.

    Its called ‘2nd To None’, the clever condensing of the word “second” indicating that the bearded Swedes still have the finger on the pulse of contemporary pop culture, numerical English being the preferred language of generation text. In which case their employment of the slang “wicked” in the chorus (last heard bandied about be nineties teenagers obsessed with Mutant Ninja Turtles) is surely intended to be ironic. And who amongst us would argue with the proposition that “2nd best to none / Is a wicked place to be”? I was never very good at maths, but second best to none is the same as first, isn’t it? Fantastic.

    The relentlessly cheerful melody will no doubt raise echoes of nostalgic yearning in ABBA fans, recalling, as it does the euro brio of such early ABBA classics as ‘Bang A Boomerang’, as played, perhaps, by one of the ubiquitous ABBA covers bands doing the rounds of British pubs. Or maybe they just knocked it out on a computer with an ABBA karaoke programme. Who am I to second guess the strategies of bona fide pop production geniuses? And when I say the trademark ABBA vocal harmonies are performed with all the energy and enthusiasm of an amateur choir of hotel cleaning staff, I mean it literally.

    For reasons best known to Benny and Bjorn, the song was specially written for the staff of the hotel they own in Stockholm, ‘The Rival’. Did they run up an excessive bar bill and pay it (as Picasso used to do) by scribbling a masterpiece down on a napkin? Who knows. The song seems to be about a marital affair, which makes you wonder what actually goes on at that hotel of theirs. Saucy! Maybe its all intended as a subtle advertisment for their more discreet services.

    ‘2nd Best To None’ has been recorded and released as a single (in Sweden) by the hotel staff under the guise of The Rivals. It is available to view on the internet, a chance for all ABBA fans to bask once more in the sheer musical pleasure of two of pops towering talents messing about with a bunch of rank amateurs. If you want to see for yourself, just scroll to the bottom of the page.

    I can’t quite make out the English lyrics as uniquely interpreted by Swedish hotel staff. There’s something about “I bless my life, my season in the sun / still no challenge, 2nd best to none” But I’m sure they’re great. Because, as any fule kno, ABBA are, indeed, second best to none (except The Beatles, maybe).

    All together now: “I don’t mind not being number one / As long as I am second best to none.”

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