Monday, 7 October 2013
De Telegraaf, February 2000: Why does ABBA refuse 2 billion for a comeback? The illusion is bringing in more money
The enormous offer is coming from a British/American entertainment company that wanted to reunite ABBA for one hundred concerts. The Netherlands, where ABBA is extremely popular, was also meant to be included in the world tour schedule!
It has been announced that the former Swedish group will never reunite on stage again. The two women in the group, Anni-Frid and Agnetha, have withdrawn completely from show business. Agnetha lives almost as a recluse in a Swedish village and Anni-Frid - better known as Frida - now lives in Switzerland.
Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson are still active in show business. Their most important task is taking care of the interests of their former ABBA hits. And these hits are making them even richer than they already are because of the copyrights that keep pouring in, especially since ABBA seems to be more popular now than ever before.
The Swedish group scored 23 hits between 1974 and 1983, out of which eight reached the number one spot in the charts. Although they don't perform together any longer, lately they have conquered a whole new generation of fans with these songs. Contemporary groups and bands like Westlife, Bewitched, Steps and A-Teens are releasing their own versions of ABBA's hits.
Also the musical 'Mamma Mia!' that is packing the theatres in London at the moment and that is based on the ABBA hits, is bringing in millions for ABBA due to copyrights and box-office money. The show is co-produced by Björn and Benny. Obviously, the success of the show is a major promotional tool for the ABBA greatest hits CD's that have become best sellers in the Netherlands as well.
In all, ABBA sold about 350 million records after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with the song 'Waterloo'.
ABBA consisted of two young married couples, that however got divorced at the height of their fame. Agnetha was married to Björn and Benny was married to Frida.
After the ABBA success, the two women tried their luck with a solo career to no avail, but Björn and Benny's career went very well. They wrote the musical 'Chess' together.
So what is the secret of ABBA's current success? Benny said: "I think the reason is that we never got back together after we called it a day seventeen years ago."
The group became immensely rich! In all, they made about two hundred million with their songwriting and another eight hundred million with record sales, films and concerts. Now they were able to make almost twice as much with one hundred concerts as they did during their entire active ABBA period.
But Benny and Björn prefer to keep the legend intact by keeping the illusion of ABBA alive, and history has proved them right.
The ABBA of today is considerably older as well. Björn is now 54, Benny 53, Frida 54 and Agnetha 49. And although the audience may admire older male rockers, it would be difficult for the women to rekindle the old ABBA style. Apart from that, Agnetha is mentally not up to it, according to friends. After her marriage she withdrew from public life. All of a sudden, she developed a fear of flying after a flight that she barely survived. Furthermore, she experienced a train accident that was quite traumatizing too. She felt herself drifting away from the group more and more.
At one point, Benny and Björn demanded a higher percentage of the re-releases of their old hits. In this new century, ABBA's success has turned into a remarkable trend in show business. After the big success of girl groups like the Spice Girls and boy bands like Take That, now it's the time for mixed groups, that are clearly inspired by ABBA.
The former manager and instigator of the Spice Girls, Simon Fuller, said: "ABBA is the standard for all these groups. With ABBA, everything was perfect: the idea, the styling and the songs."
However, the most successful idea to cash in on the current ABBA mania came from the Swedish record company Stockholm Records. They launced the teen band A-Teens. The A-Teens are singing the hits that were loved by their parents and grandparents in a contemporary style. The most important condition was that not too many things were to be changed. But it all had to sound a little younger and more modern.
And that's how Amit (16), Sara (15), Dhani (15) and Marie (16) are now singing the ABBA hits. To inexperienced ears, the songs are sounding the same as the originals; there is no rap interlude or something else that might disturb the ABBA illusion. But there is one difference: it's all a bit faster, the grooves are a bit more energetic. And that's how the A-Teens actually united two groups in one group.