I Still Have Faith In You
When You Danced With Me
Don't Shut Me Down
Just A Notion
I Can Be That Woman
Keep An Eye On Dan
No Doubt About It
Ode To Freedom
“I don’t know of anybody who’s done it,” ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus tells Apple Music. “Is there anybody?” He could be talking about the improbability of a Swedish pop group comprising two formerly married couples selling nearly 400 million albums worldwide and counting. He could also mean their impending residency at a purpose-built arena in London in which all four members will perform as ABBAtars—painstakingly motion-captured renderings of their circa-1978 selves—with a live band, potentially until, or beyond, the collapse of civilisation. But he’s actually referring to the fact that ABBA is releasing their first album of new music in 40 years, an event that bears little historical precedent. “I constantly have those moments when I think, ‘How the hell did this all happen? Why is it that suddenly on TikTok two million people are following what we are doing?’ It's weird. It's all weird.”
This unlikely occurrence started becoming more likely around 2018 when Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson wrote two songs, the cheekily self-referential “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down”, for possible inclusion in the show, and approached their former partners, singers Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. “We asked the ladies and they were absolutely enthusiastic about going into the studio and trying their voices again,” Ulvaeus says. “And then after a while we thought, why not record a couple more? And there was absolutely nobody breathing down our necks.” The result is Voyage—nine new songs and one resurrected from their original incarnation, fitting for a project that renders the very notion of the passage of time meaningless. While ABBA's legacy is long since assured, their ABBAtars could revolutionise the prospects for artists looking to secure career options beyond this mortal coil. “The reason why it works is that we are still alive,” Ulvaeus says. “The cranium does not change over time. The rest of your body falls apart, but the cranium, they could take exact measurements, which they cannot with a video of Elvis. I bet you there are a lot of singers who will have these in a couple years. Everyone should have an ABBAtar.” Take a chance on these stories behind the songs on Voyage from Ulvaeus himself.
"I Still Have Faith in You"
“When Benny played it to me, I thought, ‘This is really epic.’ It's about us and the bonds we have, about the loyalty we have to each other, and celebrating the fantastic career that we've gone through. Or haven't gone through—there's a lot left of it, as it seems—but there are more layers than that today in that lyric, but that I want the listener to find out by himself.”
"When You Danced With Me"
“It's a bit Nordic, but maybe more Scottish and Irish. I lived in England for six years, between '84 and ’90, and I used to see these fairs that they had in the villages for the children. And that's what I saw before me when I heard the melody: a village fair, but somewhere in Ireland. It's about leavers and remainers. I grew up in a small town and I left it when I was 20. But somehow I'd come back to that little town and feel I have roots there.”
“Benny tells me he didn't think of it as a Christmas song, but I, the minute I heard it, I said it cannot be anything else. It is early, early Christmas morning. The stockings are hanging right there and then this couple wakes up. This could be played for Christmases to come. And that would be great, because we want to own Christmas and New Year's Eve, like with [1980’s] 'Happy New Year'.”
"Don't Shut Me Down"
“At that time we were kind of getting the hang of what the ABBAtars would be. This is about a woman who has broken up and regrets breaking up. And she is going to come back and see if the guy will take her back. So she sits on a bench in a park and it gets dark. And finally she gets the courage up to go and knock on the door. That's it at face value, but I see it as us, as ABBAtars, knocking on the doors of the fans: Please take us as we are now and don't shut us down. It's a little flirt with the disco of the '70s, but other than that, I don't think that any of the old songs have had any impact on the new songs.”
"Just a Notion"
“It's from '78 and it's never been released in its entirety before. There's been snippets on YouTube, but we thought it's a great song and it has very good vocals on it. Benny did a new backing track, so the band is new but the voices are old. And it illustrates in a way what we are doing in the ABBAtar concert in London, because we will have a live band but the original vocals.”
"I Can Be That Woman"
“It's a country song, in essence. And a little gesture to the queen of country, as far as I'm concerned: Tammy Wynette. The good dog is called Tammy. There's a lot of stuff going into that song, but it's basically about someone who has come down from an addiction and finally come down into real life and is sorry about all the wasted years. But there's hope at the end of the tunnel: I can be that woman now. Only we know what is fact and what is fiction about our life experiences together. It's a kind of freedom that you get. With 70, you get that freedom.”
"Keep an Eye on Dan"
“Dan is the little child; his two parents are divorced and he is being left with one parent. All of us who have been divorced know what it's like to leave that little kid and seeing how absorbed that little kid is with the other parent. And he waves, or she, and you stand there and you feel, 'Argh.' I find it interesting to explore things that happen in relationships that haven't been explored before. I don't think that this has.”
“I've always found bumblebees or squids as powerful symbols for what we might lose with climate change. It's a symbol of the loneliness we will feel when these creatures perhaps vanish because they cannot adapt.”
"No Doubt About It"
“I've known a few people who kind of flare up and can't help it, but then very quickly sort of get calm again and say, 'Sorry, sorry, I shouldn't have done that. I shouldn't have said that.' So it is this woman, in that situation she is incensed with her husband, who is very calm. He knows, he just waits for it. And in the end it comes.”
"Ode to Freedom"
“The concept of freedom is so intriguing and it's so different for different kinds of people. This song is so majestic. I could never say what my freedom is, because that would be received as, 'Oh, you can say that you are rich, you're famous. Da, da.' This is not my ode to freedom; it's about how if I ever wrote one, it would be simple. I don't know what it would be about, but I wish someone would write one.”