Mamma mia! Hear ABBA's first two new songs in nearly 40 years

Virtual versions of the 1970 Swedish musicians will star in a London concert experience, and their motion capture suits score a meme.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
3 min read

The four members of ABBA performed their music while wearing motion-capture suits so their movements could be re-created by digital versions of themselves. That's what people will see when they attend the London concerts, which start in 2022.

Baillie Walsh

Listen up, all you Dancing Queens. Iconic Swedish pop group ABBA has reunited after nearly 40 years with a new album, Voyage -- and a planned concert experience featuring virtual versions of the four musicians. Two of the new songs are already available for listening, the album is coming in November, and the concert series with the virtual band will come to London in spring of 2022. Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

The two new songs, I Still Have Faith in You and Don't Shut Me Down, are available now on Spotify, Apple Music , YouTube, Amazon, Pandora and Tidal. The video for I Still Have Faith in You, which features nostalgic footage of the band over the years, has earned over a million views in three hours.

The full Voyage album is coming on Nov. 5 from Capitol Records and can be preordered now on vinyl, CD or cassette. Yes, cassette.

ABBA was formed in 1972, and the group name comes from the letters of the four members' first names: Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. According to Forbes, the group has sold more than 385 million records, despite breaking up in 1982.

"The first song, I Still Have Faith in You, when Benny played the melody, I just knew, it had to be about us," Ulvaeus says in a promotional video uploaded Thursday. "It's about realizing that it's inconceivable to be where we are. No imagination could dream up that -- to release a new album after 40 years, and still be the best of friends, and still be enjoying each other's company, and to have total loyalty. Who has experienced that? Nobody."

So many fans sought out the two new songs that the official online music store crashed, though it was working when I tried on Thursday afternoon.

"ABBA broke up a year before the internet was invented and now they're crashing it," one Twitter user wrote. 

But what about those virtual versions? The band isn't calling them holograms, but digital characters, and they're computer-generated images of how the four looked in 1979. The actual band performed every song in the show while wearing motion-capture suits so their movements could be captured accurately (by 160 cameras, over five weeks).

The ABBA Voyage performances will begin May 27, 2022 at a custom-built, 3,000-capacity venue called ABBA Arena, in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Interested concert-goers can preregister on abbavoyage.com, and tickets will go on sale Sept. 7. A live 10-piece band will perform with the digital images of ABBA.

Images of ABBA in the colorful motion-capture suits being used to produce their virtual versions earned some fun social reaction. 

"Me and the crew are finally going to do the sleep apnea clinic," wrote one Twitter user, referring to the band's motion-capture suits, dotted with colorful markers.

Said another, "Why does ABBA look like they're the VFX team for Lord of the Rings?"

Others were just thrilled that the band is back. "I feel like ABBA has returned because they knew we needed them," wrote one Twitter user.