When the 2022 Grammy nominations were announced late last month, many people were surprised to see ABBA’s first song in nearly 40 years, “I Still Have Faith in You,” as a nominee for Record of the Year.
They shouldn’t have been: ABBA are one of the most popular, influential and successful groups in the history of the world. While often dismissed as a kitschy pop act during their 1970s-early ‘80s heyday, their image and at-times goofy lyrics camouflaged their indelible, deceptively sophisticated and complex songwriting and arrangements. Yet their reputation and respect grew exponentially in the years after they announced a hiatus in 1983, as their music proved deeply enduring and the world caught up with its sophistication, particularly via strategic placements in film and TV, especially the 1994 film “Muriel’s Wedding” and the ABBA-themed “Mamma Mia!” musical and film.
Yet ABBA’s hiatus went on for so long that journalists grew tired of receiving the same skeptical answers about the group reuniting, and largely stopped asking. Which made it all the more surprising in 2018 when the group’s co-founders, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, confirmed that they had reunited with singers (and ex-wives) Agentha Falkskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad and recorded two new songs and were preparing some kind of virtual concert experience. The plans were delayed first by the complexity of the concert and then the pandemic — but last summer the entire enterprise roared back to life with a global telecast announcing details: Two new songs followed by a full album called “Voyage” in November! A groundbreaking virtual concert launching at a specially built arena in London launching in May!
After all these years, suddenly ABBA are back in a big way — and with their first-ever Grammy nomination to boot. While the group has been quiet about the nod, when asked by Variety earlier this week, they responded with a short statement, poking fun at themselves for the 40-year gap between their 1981 album “The Visitors” and this year’s “Voyage”:
“A Grammy should be mandatory for those who dare leave 40 years between album releases,” they wrote. “We suggest a new category.” It was signed: “ABBA / Agnetha, Björn, Benny, Anni-Frid”