Archive for the ‘Agnetha’ Category

50 år B&B

8 June, 2016

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Sunday 5 June 2016 marked the 50th anniversary of the first meeting of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson. A chance meeting that became a firm friendship and songwriting partnership that endures to this day.

In a room filled with 300 or so invited family, friends and associates at Berns Salonger in central Stockholm, Björn and Benny celebrated the anniversary with a night filled with music, memories, and fun, arranged in secret by Benny’s son Ludvig Andersson, Görel Hanser, stage director and BAO member Lars Rudolfsson, and Master of Ceremonies Claes af Geijerstam.

The night featured an audio-visual presentation of Björn and Benny’s career. Interrupting the presentation were musical performances by guest singers, backed primarily by Benny Anderssons Orkester (without Benny), revisiting Björn and Benny’s vast catalogue.

Hep Stars lead singer Sven Hedlund sang Björn and Benny’s first song ‘Isn’t It Easy To Say’, apparently the first time he has ever performed the song live; Peter Jöback and Lill-Babs duetted on the Björn & Benny single ‘Det kan ingen doktor hjälpa’; Ludvig sang ‘Rock Me’ while his half-brother Peter Grönvall joined the band on keyboards; Pernilla Wahlgren and Lena Philipsson sang ‘Hole In Your Soul’; Helen Sjöholm sang ‘Where I Want To Be’ from Chess while Tommy Körberg sang BAO’s ‘Du är min man’, a reversal of their usual songs. Apparently there were other performances, but details haven’t been made public.

Paul McCartney sent a video greeting congratulating the pair on their long relationship and continued success. Björn and Benny have often professed that they were inspired to write songs, separately and together, by the example of Lennon and McCartney and The Beatles in the mid-1960s.

The night climaxed when Björn and Benny took to the stage to perform ‘Does Your Mother Know’, Björn handling lead vocals while Benny joined in on keyboards. After they returned to their seats, much to everyone’s surprise Frida and Agnetha were introduced to sing ‘The Way Old Friends Do’, dedicated to their old partners. Just as they did in 1979, Frida sang the first lines, Agnetha sang the next lines, then the two joined together in harmony. After the song, Björn and Benny returned to the stage for a brief emotional reunion.

With the formal events of the evening over, BAO took over with dance music until late in the evening.

Immediately the news of a so-called ABBA reunion flashed around the world. Unfortunately, as the story spread, it became more and more wrong about the events of the evening.

Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding of the song title, thanks to the way it had been introduced, it was reported in Expressen, quoting guitarist Janne Schaffer, that Frida and Agnetha had sung a song called ‘You And I’. Those are the first three words of ‘The Way Old Friends Do’, but are also the title of a song from Chess. So the story spread that they actually sang the song from Chess, perhaps not the best choice of song for a tribute. Then when other media outlets picked up the story and didn’t recognise that song title, but found that ABBA had a song called ‘Me And I’, they started reporting that the two women sang that song, an even less appropriate tribute than ‘You And I’ 

It was also widely reported that Björn and Benny joined the women on stage to sing, for an “ABBA reunion”, but that didn’t happen. The two men only returned to the stage after the song had finished. All the photos of the four together on stage on social media and elsewhere were taken in the minute or so after ‘The Way Old Friends Do’.

Pretty much every story stated that this was ABBA’s first public performance in 30 years. It was neither. The last (known) time the four sang together was 17 years ago, in June 1999 at Görel Hanser’s 50th birthday party. Prior to that they had also sung at Claes af Geijerstam’s 40th birthday party in 1986. Neither of these were public events, but like Sunday’s gathering, private parties for invited guests only.

The so-called last public performance by ABBA referred to in the media was not in public either, but to a small gathering of probably four or five with film crew and Görel and Anders Hanser, when they taped the performance of ‘Tivedshambo’ for Här är ditt liv (This Is Your Life) for Stig Anderson in January 1986. Hardly a public performance, but it was the last time “ABBA” were seen by the public, albeit on television 

After three decades of avoiding appearing as a group, this marked the second occasion that the four had been seen together this year. In January the four appeared on stage briefly at the opening of opening of Mamma Mia! The Party. Does this mean that a formal ABBA reunion is in the works? Of course not. On every occasion they’ve been together since 1982, it has been some private celebration, without media and fans present.

(Photo: Instagram @poptonten)

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Agnetha Fältskog – The Girl With The Golden Hair

22 May, 2016

978-1-78155-521-7The life and career of Agnetha are celebrated in Daniel Ward’s new biography Agnetha Fältskog – The Girl With The Golden Hair.

Though unauthorised and thus with no direct input from Agnetha or those close to her, the book is extremely well researched. All phases of Agnetha’s life are covered, from her early childhood when she first fell in love with music, her infamous first public performance aged five, singing on the dance band circuit, her solo recording career, through the ABBA years, and on after ABBA, to her 2013 album A and beyond.

The Girl With The Golden Hair is well written and an enjoyable read. It’s very respectful and not sensationalist in any way. The unfortunate episodes of Agnetha’s later life are not avoided, as they shouldn’t be, but they are covered delicately and with respect.

There is also a photo section, with many familiar but some lesser-seen photos of Agnetha through her life – a few that I don’t recall seeing before.

I was honoured to be asked to read a draft version of the book. I’m happy to see that I was able to make a contribution to the finished product.

Daniel has also written ABBA – The Quiz Book, as well as crime fiction and articles for medical publications.

If you are a fan of Agnetha, I’m sure you will enjoy this book. More information can be found at the publisher’s website.

 

 

 

Mamma Mia! It’s ABBA 2016

21 January, 2016

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Much to everyone’s surprise, not only did Bjorn, Frida, Benny and Agnetha attend the opening of Mamma Mia! The Party at Gröna Lund in Stockholm on the evening of Wednesday 20 January 2016, but the four appeared together on stage, posing and waving (briefly, for about 20 seconds or so).

(Photo: @grönalund instagram)

What is your favourite ABBA event of 2014?

2 January, 2015

2014, being the 40th anniversary of ABBA’s win of the Eurovision Song Contest, has been one of the biggest years ever for ABBA. What were your favourite events? Vote below for as many as you like. Please add any other events in the Comments.

The 40th anniversary week

3 May, 2014

abba40The 40th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision Song Contest win was celebrated in great style in early April.

Of course there are many new releases to mark the anniversary, with ABBA – The Official Photo Book, Waterloo Deluxe Edition CD and DVD, ‘Waterloo’ single picture disc, The Singles 40 disc box set, and much more, with even more still to come.

The highlights of the anniversary commemorations were events in Stockholm and London on Sunday April 6th (the actual anniversary) and Monday April 7th.

On the Sunday afternoon ABBA The Museum in Stockholm held a concert on the museum’s forecourt, featuring an especially-created choir singing several ABBA songs. Benny Andersson joined the choir, playing piano as they sang ‘Thank You For The Music’, and then joining the choir on stage for a bow.

On the Monday night the Tate Modern gallery in London hosted ABBA The Official International Anniversary party, to launch The Official Photo Book and to commemorate the anniversary. One thousand ticket-buying fans joined 500 VIP guests for a night of ABBA music, with a small exhibition of photos from the book, and a brief appearance by Björn and Frida, which was followed by another performance by ABBA The Museum/The Choir.

The following Sunday (April 13th) Benny and Björn joined the London cast of Mamma Mia! at the Olivier Awards in London, performing one chorus of ‘Thank You For The Music’ for the awards show finale. Yes, you read that right: Benny and Björn actually performed on stage, on accordion and guitar respectively.

After a couple of interviews in London with Frida and Björn, there was much media and fan speculation that an ABBA reunion could be on the cards, after Frida said “that it would be fun, maybe, to record something”. Björn rather strangely added ” if there was out of, you know, pure magic, a fantastic song that would suit ABBA very well, you know, who knows”. Of course he wasn’t going to contradict Frida on camera, was he? Benny followed it up on the red carpet at the Olivier Awards, saying “I don’t think so”, then adding sarcastically “Well what do I know?”, clearly miffed that everyone was predicting an ABBA reunion except the one man who would be writing the music.

Agnetha was nowhere to be seen at any of these events. Apparently she was enjoying a holiday in Majorca. In May last year she missed the opening of ABBA The Museum, as she was in London doing interviews to promote her solo album A. In 2004 she missed the 5th anniversary of Mamma Mia! in London, which Björn, Frida and Benny attended (Benny quite reluctantly), as she was working on the documentary for her current album My Colouring Book.

Promoting her solo album A last year Agnetha was happy to use ABBA, from the cover sticker “New solo album by Agnetha Fältskog of ABBA”, to the title of her official television documentary Agnetha: ABBA and After, three-quarters of which was devoted to ABBA. As recently as November last year she hinted in an interview that she would be willing to do something with the other three, and that there were plans for the 40th anniversary (which set off another worldwide media frenzy of “ABBA reunion” headlines). But when there’s an actual ABBA event, she actively avoids the situation.

What is your favourite ABBA event of 2013?

27 December, 2013

Ring Ring Deluxe Edition (October)It’s been quite an ABBA year, especially for Agnetha. What have been your favourite ABBA events in 2013? Chose up to five from the list below, or add anything else to the comments.

 

What Agnetha really said

12 November, 2013

Following the sensational worldwide headlines started by their story over the weekend, today Die Welt has published online their full Agnetha story. The question of a potential ABBA reunion and Agnetha’s response becomes clearer. But still she does not say that there are plans for an ABBA reunion in April next year.

Here is the translation, courtesy of Google Translate. It’s not perfect, but you get the gist.

Die Welt: Of all the members of Abba, you were the one who always expressed most vehemently against a reunion Fältskog: Yes.
Die Welt: You also said that you would have a unique appearance with your colleagues, perhaps for a good cause, not mutually exclusive. If one was offering you, at an event like, say, “Live Aid” act, because you would seriously consider?
Fältskog: Yes. If we could unite all four on the purpose for which we want to do that, if it were only a one-time event – then, yes, we would certainly consider it. At the same time trickles yes. We’re all getting older. I can not imagine that we would go with my crutches on stage. Who knows what happened yet.
Die Welt: There are examples of successful Reunions: Led Zeppelin had a concert in London teamed up again in 2007.
Fältskog: I know, yes.
Die Welt: 20 million people were looking to buy tickets, 20,000 were in the O2 Arena. Would tempt such a thing?
Fältskog: I do not trust myself, nor anything to say (laughs).
Die Welt: Too bad. It almost sounds like there is something to say on the subject.
Fältskog: Sure, we think about it. See: In April 2014 it will be 40 years ago that we won with “Waterloo” the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton. There are probably plans to make the occasion of this anniversary something. But I still do not know what comes of it. I also do not currently know it exactly.
Die Welt: Why not?
Fältskog: I’m a person who often makes too many thoughts. If such an event should take place, and I knew well in advance notice, I would break my head over it all the time. It eats too much life energy. It is similar to my fear of flying.
Die Welt: You suffer, since you had to make an emergency landing during their 1979 U.S. tour with your private jet, after you were caught in a storm.
Fältskog: Yes. If I have to fly today, I want not to know well in advance. That worries me too much. For me, it is better if such a request may reached me a week before, I care even on the same day.
Die Welt: It sounds like you would an Abba Reunion approach as a long-delayed but always made the leap ten meters tower: climb up fast, do not look down above, do not think, jump down.
Fältskog: That hits pretty well. Not only think – just do it.

Meanwhile, when asked for comment by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter Benny has responded “It’s probably best if you ask her. I think that I probably ought to know if it were up to date” (Google Translate again). In other words, he doesn’t know a thing about any reunion plans, but if there were such plans he would know.

“ABBA mulls possible reunion”

11 November, 2013

Thus screamed headlines around the world over the past couple of days.

Last week Agnetha was interviewed for German weekend newspaper Welt am Sonntag. Once published, the sensational claims of the story were soon translated to English by Sky News UK. That report was then picked up almost immediately by media outlets around the world, though they all reported the same story, almost word for word.

In the article Agnetha is quoted as saying “Of course it’s something we’re thinking about.” The question she is apparently answering is not published, but the article hints she is talking about an ABBA reunion for the 40th anniversary of ABBA’s Eurovision Song Contest win in April next year. “There seem to be plans to do something to mark this anniversary in some way. But I can’t say at this point what will come of them.”

Agnetha only refers to “plans to do something to mark this anniversary”. This could mean almost anything. As we know there is The Official Photo Book published in April. There may be another Pop Talk at ABBA The Museum, like the recent event commemorating the Ring Ring Deluxe Edition. There could be a deluxe edition of the Waterloo album or some other musical re-releases. Aside from the book I don’t know of any other specific plans, but these are all are likely “plans to do something to mark this anniversary”. It does not necessarily mean that those plans will actively involve former ABBA members.

It’s also worth noting that the quotes have been translated from English to German, then back to English.

The Eurovision anniversary also marks the 15th anniversary of the premiere of the Mamma Mia! musical in London. No doubt there will be some form of celebration there.

With that, and now ABBA The Museum in Stockholm being an obvious base for celebrations, there is the potential to split ABBA members’ attendance.

The four former members of ABBA have avoided all possible reunion opportunities, from alleged multi-million dollar offers to record and perform, to Mamma Mia! openings and anniversaries, to the Eurovision 50th anniversary gala (which seemed designed solely to engineer an ABBA reunion appearance), to the opening of their very own museum. For the last decade we’ve rarely seen more than two together at any time.

For many years Björn has said at every opportunity that ABBA will not get together, stating “We are the only group of that status that has never been reunited. I think that is cool”. Benny has moved on, playing with BAO (though they do perform the occasional ABBA song), and composing music for films and events. His demeanour when he does attend ABBA events hints that he’d rather be somewhere else. Though Frida has said in the past that she would like to do something with the other three, she has consistently said that her musical life is behind her. At the museum opening she expressed surprise when told by a reporter that she had allegedly said that she would like to reunite ABBA. Agnetha herself said just a few months ago that it’s time to “let ABBA rest”.

In May Agnetha deliberately avoided the opening of ABBA The Museum, instead travelling to London to promote her new album, but conveniently latching on to the media interest about the museum. Though there were claims that her itinerary was planned before the museum opening was confirmed (unlikely, as the opening date would have been set many months ahead), there was nothing she did that couldn’t have been postponed a week or two, including the release of the CD itself.

And unfortunately for Agnetha, her message in this new interview that a deluxe edition of her album A is out in Germany on November 22nd, has been lost in the hysteria, though it was mentioned towards the end of the original German article.

Dance Your Pain Away

12 August, 2013

At 10 am BST today (almost three hours ago as I write this) Agnetha Fältskog’s new video ‘Dance Your Pain Away’ was to debut on YouTube.

In June a competition was held through Agnetha’s website, Facebook page and Twitter. Fans were invited to submit videos of themselves dancing to ‘Dance Your Pain Away’. The ten clips that attracted the most votes would be included in the official music video.

Surprisingly the clip was actually online several hours before the anticipated launch time, which led to many hours of discussion among fans online. As it was not on Agnetha’s established YouTube or Vevo channel, it was widely supposed to be fake.

Finally launch time rolled around and the clip was announced to the world on Agnetha’s various online presences. It was indeed the clip that had been online and discussed. Fans everywhere have since been complaining about the quality of the clip ever since. They are expressing their outrage at this insult to Agnetha’s legacy (to paraphrase some of the hyperbole), ignoring the fact that Agnetha has final approval on every aspect of her comeback.

Having watched the clip a few times now, and getting over the initial shock, the biggest problem is the attempted insertion of Agnetha into the clip. Opening and closing with the single sleeve, with multiple stills of Agnetha flashing across the screen, and seemingly random inserts of Agnetha’s appearance at Stockholm Pride last week actually cheapen and detract from the rest of the clip, with people joyously dancing to Agnetha’s music.

Judge for yourself.

Before ABBA

28 June, 2013

Before ABBAFor people unfamiliar with the careers of the Björn, Benny, Agnetha and Anni-Frid before they came together as ABBA – and let’s face it, aside from hardcore ABBA fans and older generations of Swedes, that’s pretty much everyone – a new compilation CD has been released.

Before ABBA brings together three songs each from Bjorn’s group Hootenanny Singers, Benny’s group Hep Stars, Anni-Frid and Agnetha’s solo records, and the duo Bjorn & Benny.

Highlights include Agnetha and Anni-Frid’s first solo singles, the first three songs written by Benny, and the first recording to feature the voices of all four. It might not necessarily include the best songs from each, or include more of those songs that show the coming together of ABBA (e.g. Benny & Bjorn’s first joint composition, other songs featuring the participation of an increasing number of future ABBA members), but it’s a nice representation of the four careers, before becoming ABBA.

There is something delightfully retro about the artwork that I find really appealing. No fancy booklet, just the song details listed on the back, but it does have a cardboard gatefold sleeve with a short blurb (in Swedish and English) about he individual careers.

The catch is that the CD is only available in the store at ABBA The Museum in Stockholm. I don’t know if it will be available from the museum’s webstore, when that eventually opens.

(more…)


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