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How the past decade took ABBA from retirement to the recording studio: A timeline

Wendy Geller
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
ABBA in 1974. (Phot: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad — otherwise known as the original members of beloved pop-culture fixture ABBA — delighted fans on Friday, April 27, by announcing that they had recorded two new songs, one set for release in December. 

It’s easy to see why music aficionados are all whipped up. ABBA split in 1982, and although the individual members have pursued their own creative projects over the decades, it just hasn’t fed the public’s insatiable hunger for a reunion.

Interest in the band resurged in the mid-’90s with inclusion of their songs in several popular movies (particularly 1994’s Muriel’s Wedding) and reached a retro-appreciation pinnacle in 1999, when their music was adapted for the hit stage production Mamma Mia!

But when exactly did ABBA return to a track that led them back to the studio and, thusly, to the news we’ve received this week? Here’s a quick timeline of ABBA’s past decade.

2008: Mamma Mia! sees adaptation into a serious star-power film starring Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan. When attention naturally turns toward ABBA, Ulvaeus tells the Telegraph, “We will never appear onstage again. There is simply no motivation to regroup. Money is not a factor, and we would like people to remember us as we were. (A sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, opens July 20.)

2010: The group makes headlines for its decision to not reunite for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Andersson attended the ceremony, but Ulvaeus missed it due to a family event, and Fältskog as well because reportedly she “doesn’t like to fly.” 

2013Fältskog confirms to the New York Times that an ABBA reunion is off the table, saying “we are too old,” and that there is “no meaning” to a regrouping.

2014: Speaking to the GuardianLyngstad 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.”

2016: All four members of the group posed for their first photo together since 1982 at the opening of a Mamma Mia-themed theater restaurant in Sweden.

They followed that in June of the same year with a performance at a private party celebrating the group’s 50th anniversary. There they performed “The Way Old Friends Do” from their 1980 album, Super Trouper.

They followed that in October (2016 was clearly a busy year) with an announcement that the foursome had teamed with American Idol creator Simon Fuller for a tour that would employ “previously unimagined” technology, including virtual reality — basically translating to the use of computer-generated avatars of themselves. This project quickly became dubbed “Abbatar” and was targeted for 2018-19.

2017: According to ABBA’s most recent social media post, the group decided it would be fun to reconvene in the recording studio; they did just that in summer of ’17, resulting in the two songs we now have this week.

ABBA’s manager told a Swedish newspaper on Friday that there are no plans to record more songs, so it sounds as if this latest music will be more of a dabble in revisiting their past chemistry than anything else.

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Watch: The trailer for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: