I Still Have Faith In You & Don't Shut Me Down
(Polar / Universal)
It’s a shame, really. ABBA had a great ten-year run and cultivated a pristine legacy. Truckloads of platinum records, Eurovision ‘73, films and musicals based on the myth of the band, the money -- ABBA had it all, but most importantly, the band went out on a high note. Their last LP, The Visitors wasn’t Waterloo, but what is? Still, it sold well, although after Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson were unable to come up with a follow-up, the band sort of just dissolved. They didn’t hold a press conference or run a victory lap with a farewell world tour. They just started doing other things… solo careers, theater… whatever it is rich Swedes do.
Now, forty years later, ABBA springs two new songs on us with the promise of another album full of new material in November titled Voyage. But wait, there’s more: ABBA will be touring the world in 2022 to promote the new album along with the classics that endeared you to them in the first place.
Only the members of ABBA aren’t going to be in the venues, their holograms will be standing in for them. In the same way Tupac played Coachella in 2012 and infamous OJ lawyer Robert Kardashian bid his daughter Kim a 'happy birthday' last year, Agnetha, Björn, Benny, and Anni-Frid will be played by their holograms.
Let’s not normalize these (literally) soulless hologram concerts, which seem to be stampeding towards us from the horizon. Whitney Houston's estate made a "too-soon" attempt with An Evening with Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Tour. Fortunately the world was preoccupied with other things like a worldwide pandemic and the January 6 American terrorist insurrection.
That said, if Hologram ABBA goes over well during next year's Voyage tour, that will open the flood gates and give greedy concert promoters and greedier record companies a reason to insist on every legacy band produce a hologram tour of their own, whether members of the band are dead or alive.
Imagine, Joy Division with Ian Curtis flailing away as you’ve only seen him in grainy YouTube videos. Maybe a Beatles reunion? Or how about a band of dead people -- let’s say Buddy Holly and the Crickets. They could conceivably perform "Peggy Sue" all over the world on dozens of stages on the same night. All a venue needs is a decent overhead projector and voilà: you too can experience Buddy Holly's "Come Fly With Me Tour 2022," but I digress...
These two new ABBA songs; you have to wonder if Björn and Benny are leading off with their strongest material or if this is the best that they got? Not that "I Still Have Faith In You" or "Don’t Shut Me Down" don’t have merit. It's just that they’re not very exciting and they possess none of that glammy ABBA magic you remember from "King Kong Song" or "Rock Me."
No doubt the average age of each member of ABBA is 70 and hoping for another "Dancing Queen" might be a lofty request, but there was a time when ABBA reeled off one hit single after another and made it look so easy.
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