May 4, 2018
by Gwen Kirkland
ABBA Fever is re-igniting in 2018. The four members ABBA (the biggest-selling music act from Sweden) have reunited for a new song: “I Still Have Faith in You,” which will debut in a worldwide TV special “ABBA: Thank You for the Music, An All-Star Tribute” that will air in December 2018 on a date to be announced. NBC has the U.S. telecast of the concert.
ABBA formed 1972, with the group’s name being an acronym of the members’s first names: Agnetha Fältskog (vocals), Björn Ulvaeus (guitar), Anni-Frid Lyngstad (vocals) and Benny Andersson (keyboards). At the height of ABBA’s success, Fältskog and Björn Ulvaeus were married to each other, and Lyngstad and Andersson were married to each other, but both couples would eventually get divorced. ABBA had an unbroken strong of hits until the group’s breakup in 1982, including “Waterloo,” “Dancing Queen,” “Fernando,” “Take a Chance on Me,” “Mamma Mia,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You” and “Winner Takes It All.”
Since ABBA’s breakup, the music has been kept alive through tribute bands and the stage musical “Mamma Mia!,” which became a 2008 Universal Pictures movie starring Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård and Christine Baranski. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” (the sequel to 2008’s “Mamma Mia!”) reunites the “Mamma Mia!” movie’s cast for more ABBA music, and will include new cast member Cher. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” is set for release in cinemas on July 20, 2018. (NBC and Universal Pictures are both owned by NBCUniversal.)
The following is a press release by NBC about the ABBA special:
Paying homage to one of the most influential groups of all time, NBC is celebrating Sweden’s most popular export with “ABBA: Thank You for the Music, An All-Star Tribute.” The two-hour special, set to air in December, will showcase specially invited artists performing classic songs made famous by ABBA, including “Dancing Queen”, “Mamma Mia”, The Winner Takes It All” and “Take A Chance On Me”.
The once-in-a-lifetime event will be broadcast around the world to a global audience. BBC Worldwide will handle the international distribution.
One of the bestselling music groups of all time with album and single sales of 385 million, the four members of ABBA – Agnetha Faltskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Anderson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad – will be debuting their first new song in 35 years, written by Andersson and Ulvaeus. It is set to be performed by virtual ABBA, a state-of-the-art digital representation of the band in 1979 but voiced and recorded by ABBA today.
Agnetha, Benny, Björn and Anni-Frid said: “The decision to go ahead with the exciting ABBA avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence. We all four 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 that we only had been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience! It resulted in two new songs and one of them “I Still Have Faith In You” will be performed by our digital selves in a TV special produced by NBC and the BBC aimed for broadcasting in December. We may have come of age, but the song is new. And it feels good”.
The telecast will be produced and directed by Johan Renck and executive produced by Simon Fuller, with Es Devlin on board as set designer.
“There is a lot of music in the DNA of NBC and we are so proud that the iconic members of ABBA and world-class producer Simon Fuller chose us to bring this incredible tribute special to the world,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment.
Added Paul Telegdy, President, Alternative and Reality Group, NBC Entertainment, “This network is also thrilled to be the home of brand new ABBA music for the first time in decades. It’s a gift.”
Simon Fuller said: “It has been such a pleasure to work with ABBA. To see their unique talent, passion and attention to every detail has been enlightening and a true honor. In this global TV event we will be able to celebrate the music of ABBA and see other incredible artists perform their wonderful songs. I still can’t believe we will also be showcasing a new song, the first in over 35 years, which is set to ignite a whole new timeless journey in their incredible career.”
Johan Renck said: “As an adult, to find a new relation and perspective to the music that formed your childhood is a formidable thing, I feel tremendously fortunate to engage in this journey with a group that played such an integral part of my upbringing. We can’t wait to make this event come to life.”
The ABBA story began in the 1960s when Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson first met in Sweden and became songwriting partners. By 1969, they had met Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad and, after musical collaboration on each other’s solo and duo acts, they began their career together as ABBA, achieving superstardom with their breakthrough hit “Waterloo,” winning the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, charting at No. 1 across Europe and reaching the Top 10 in the U.S.
In the years that followed, ABBA became successful around the world, releasing eight studio albums, two live albums, seven compilation albums, four tours and 73 singles. To date they have sold 380 million albums and singles worldwide. They became the first music group from a non-English speaking country to top the charts in English-speaking countries and their distinctive ’70s-style costumes became synonymous with their unique look and sound.
Topping the charts globally from 1974-82, many of ABBA’s songs have become timeless classics internationally. ABBA placed 20 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with 14 making the Top 40 and 10 soaring to the Top 20. “Dancing Queen” became a No. 1 hit in 1977 in the U.S. while “Take a Chance on Me,” “Waterloo” and “The Winner Takes It All” peaked at No. 3, No. 6 and No. 8, respectively. In the U.K., ABBA had nine No. 1 singles, including “Dancing Queen” and “Super Trouper,” 19 Top 10 hits and 26 in the Top 40s. Collectively, their singles retained entries in the U.K. Top 75 chart for a total of 260 weeks. They were named Vocal Group of the Year by the American Guild of Variety Artists in 1981 and won nine Bravo Otto Awards between 1974-82. In 2010, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Barry and Robin Gibb.
In 1999, ABBA’s songs were the inspiration for the West End and Broadway hit musical “Mamma Mia!” and the film that followed, “Mamma Mia!” became a box office smash, and became the fifth highest-grossing film of 2008. The 2018 seque,l “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters and Dominic Cooper, is set for global release in July.
ABOUT SIMON FULLER
Simon Fuller is an entrepreneur, artist manager, film and television producer, best known as the creator of “American Idol.” Fuller is also the executive producer of hit shows and films including “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Q’Viva,” “Spiceworld The Movie” and “My Generation,” starring Sir Michael Caine. An influential figure in British popular culture, Fuller first came to prominence managing the pop group Spice Girls though he has since guided a range of talent that includes David and Victoria Beckham, Annie Lennox, Steven Tyler, Lewis Hamilton, Andy Murray, Amy Winehouse, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Lisa Marie Presley and others. In 2008, Fuller was certified as the most successful British music manager of all time by Billboard magazine. Fuller received the 2,441st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011. Today his business interests extend across the world and include high-value ventures in content production, branded goods and innovative ventures in music, leisure and technology. Fuller’s XIX Entertainment is represented by Frankfurt Kurnit Klein + Selz PC.
ABOUT JOHAN RENCK
Johan Renck is one of the most respected and sought after directors of television series, commercials and music videos of today. You will have seen his name as a director of your favorite TV shows such as “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead,” “Vikings,” “Bloodline” and “Last Panthers.” Renck is currently helming “Chernobyl,” the much-anticipated HBO miniseries featuring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson. Renck worked closely with David Bowie before his death and directed both the videos for “Blackstar” and “Lazarus.” His previous music videos include artists such as Beyoncé, Madonna, Lana Del Ray, New Order and Kylie Minogue, among others. Renck’s commercials currently include a long-standing partnership with Chanel, Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Cartier and Calvin Klein, to name a few.
ABOUT ES DEVLIN
Artist and stage designer Es Devlin OBE has made stage sculptures in collaboration with U2, Beyoncé, Kanye West, The Weeknd and Adele as well as stage designs for The Met Opera, The Royal Opera House and La Scala. She has created solo art installations at Miami Art Basel and V&A Museum, London and designed the London Olympic Closing Ceremony. Most recent work includes a huge sculptural portrait of The Weeknd for his recent Coachella performance and a large scale projection mapped ovoid model of Manhattan now showing at the new XI Gallery in Chelsea.
Devlin was the designer for Adele’s 2015 “Live in New York City” special on NBC and was profiled in the first season of the Netflix docu-series “Abstract: The Art of Design.”