It still seems unlikely a full public Abba reunion will ever happen, but the Swedish quartet are pushing themselves back towards the spotlight. Four months after they performed together for the first time in more than 30 years – at a private gala event in Stockholm in June – they have announced that they will launch a “virtual and live experience” next year.
The project, in partnership with Spice Girls collaborator Simon Fuller and Universal Music Group, is being billed as “a groundbreaking venture that will utilise the very latest in digital and virtual-reality technology … which will enable a new generation of fans to see, hear, and feel Abba in a way previously unimagined”.
Abba’s Benny Andersson said: “We’re inspired by the limitless possibilities of what the future holds and are loving being a part of creating something new and dramatic here. A time machine that captures the essence of who we were. And are.”
Singer Frida Lyngstad added: “Our fans around the world are always asking us to reform and so I hope this new Abba creation will excite them as much as it excites me!”
What, exactly, the project entails remains unclear. Further details are to be announced in 2017, with the launch taking place in 2018.
Since their last official performance in December 1982, Abba have proved adept at managing their legacy – and maximising their revenues. The stage musical Mamma Mia! has grossed more than $2bn worldwide since opening in London in 1999. The 2008 film adaptation became the highest-grossing musical ever, with a worldwide take of nearly £500m. The 1992 compilation Abba Gold, meanwhile, has sold nearly 30m copies worldwide.
Speaking to the Guardian in 2014, Lyngstad left open the possibility that Abba might one day record again. “It’s difficult to talk about this because then all the news stories will be: ‘Abba is going to record another song!’” she said. “But as long as we can sing and play, then why not? I would love to, but it’s up to Björn and Benny.”