Go ahead. I dare you. Try to get through the first verse of Abba’s disco anthem “Dancing Queen” without at least shaking your rump in your office chair. If you can do it, you have a lot more willpower than I ever will. And now the Swedish supergroup is … ahem, Bjorn again, thanks to modern AV technology.
The actual members of Abba announced this week that they’ve recorded their first new songs in 35 years, while avatar versions of the group’s members will be going on tour later this year as the 1979 versions of themselves in a nod to their final tour almost 40 years ago.
The avatars will perform the new songs among their sets in concert and on a TV special that’s currently in production.
The band, which broke up in 1983 after the couples divorced, said in a statement: “The decision to go ahead with the exciting Abba avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence.
“We all felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did. And it was like time had stood still and we had only been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!”
I’m guessing the couples get along now better than they did when they broke up or even in 2000, when they refused a $1 billion offer to reunite. Or maybe they all just ran out of money. Then again, maybe that’s why Abba avatars are handling the touring duties rather than the people themselves.
Either way, this is exciting news, although I can’t picture myself actually attending a tour where avatars are on stage rather than the real performers, just like I never understood the appeal of the Tupac Pepper’s Ghost performance at Coachella a few years ago—or why Michael Jackson’s family allowed him to be turned into a holographic version of himself that looked nothing like the King of Pop.
I saw an Abba tribute band named … you guessed it, Bjorn Again, several years ago at a regional festival known as The Big E and pretty much assumed that’s the closest I’d ever come to seeing an Abba concert.
If only I had known that day how far AV technology would come in the ensuing dozen or so years!
This Abba avatars news makes me think about all those hard-core Abba fans who missed their chance to see their favorite husband-and-wife quartet perform at sold-out arenas around the world in the 1970s and how I wish I had seen the Beastie Boys in concert before MCA died. With AV technology, that’s almost possible again today.
And, as big of a challenge as sound engineers face when sitting behind the console at live shows for the world’s biggest acts, I have to imagine it’s even tougher when you add the element of Abba avatars moving around the stage at the same time and synching their lips and dance moves to the songs.
Then again, Milli Vanilli never seemed to care about that, did they?
By the way, I can’t help but wonder if the return of Abba will bring disco music back into vogue. I know it’s easy to trash that genre but, without it, a lot of your favorite songs from today would’ve actually had to create their own beats.
Part of the fun of those old beats is hearing them reinterpreted in new ways and knowing there’s something familiar to them decades later.