If we take 1982 - when ABBA came to an end, essentially, as an active group - as an arbitrary base, that's 37 years ago. In another 37 years, I will most likely be dead. So do I care about how ABBA and their music will be appreciated 40 years from now? Not really. Do you?
I like the attitude of the late Frank Zappa of The Mothers of Invention. Apparently, he said that he had no interest in how people would regard his music in the future, after he was gone. Of course, he was nowhere near as popular as ABBA, but he was still well-known and appreciated among alternative music/progressive rock fans.
I think Frank Zappa's attitude was realistic and healthy. But how do you feel about ABBA's legacy? Does it matter to you?
Not really. ABBA and their music has meant a great deal to me personally but I can't control how other people will perceive them in years to come. Of course part of me would like to think they'll be respected for their talent and achievements but that's pretty much a given. My only concern is the fact that the whole Mamma Mia! nonsense will overwhelm the original songs and continue to put them in a cheesy, good-for-a-party mode. It makes me shudder that someone might ask a DJ to play, for instance, Gimme Gimme Gimme and they pop on Cher's version. Heaven help us.
Over time, it's a cert that other people will cover their songs and I haven't got a problem with that. It's the quality of those covers which concerns me. I'd also like Agnetha and Frida to garner more kudos. Ideally, a retrospective interview with all four talking about the music would be a dream come true but they need to crack on and do it- time is marching on inexorably and they're not going to live forever.
I'd also like it if people stopped referring to their music as a 'guilty pleasure'.
I suppose that's it, really. They'll be remembered for a while and now and then there'll be a little celebration on TV or something but like The Beatles and Queen, whilst respected and honoured as influences, they will fade more and more. That's just how it goes. It's the same with once mega film stars. Mention Greta Garbo to a young person and it seems unlikely they'd have a clue who she once was.
Great post, Josef. And your concluding paragraph made me feel a bit sad because it's so true.
In a place where I once worked, a young woman asked, as a song played on the radio: "Oh, what's that?". "It's the Beatles Here, There and Everywhere", I replied. "Oh, that's lovely", she said. Momentarily, I felt older because I suddenly realised, as I hadn't before, that there are actually young people who only know of groups such as the Beatles, now ABBA, by name, and who probably have little knowledge of, let alone interest in, their music.
Thanks, Richard. I know just what you mean. It is kinda sad.
Well, the party isn't quite over yet. Maybe with these two new singles due in November ABBA will have one last Hurrah! that isn't down to any flimsy film or silly cafe venture and instead just be about the original foursome and the music they create(d).
I'm not sure if this is continuing the conversation or veering off topic, but I've seen clips today of BAO performing ABBA songs like On And On And On, He Is Your Your Brother and Put On Your White Sombrero . It's bringing lesser-known songs to an audience that might have forgotten them or might be unaware of them. From the videos it looks like BAO's demographic is not exactly aligned with ABBA's. The arrangements of these songs - POYWS in particular - are adjusted for this different instrumentation. The songs are standards now, not merely ABBA songs.
Of all the songs mentioned, Lovers (Live A Little Longer) was the biggest surprise. I just heard short snippets of HIYB, OAOAO and POYWS. Seems they did One Man, One Woman again too. I didn't know they did Cassandra. Benny really does seem keen on airing the "hidden gems."
Mention of the ABBA songs that BAO perform has got me thinking about covers of ABBA songs and the legacy of these songs.
Singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Julie London, and numerous others, have performed the same great standard songs of the 1930s and 40s, and it was accepted as the done thing; and I think the same thing needs to happen to ABBA songs to help ensure their longevity and 'currentness': future artists have to want to perform and record these songs.
Josef mentioned future covers of ABBA songs. But I feel the more rigid association, in the last few decades, of artist-and-song works against this process. Much as I'm prejudiced against the idea, the songs should become less 'ABBA' and more 'universal', if you know what I mean?
Of course we want good versions of the songs - that goes without saying.
Nope, I've definitely muddled up Cassandra with POYWS.
Easily done, I think. In fact, I was a little surprised by the idea that they'd have put two such similar songs in the same set. Can anyone direct me to a clip of their version of Lovers? I can't wait to hear what they did with it.
Richard, I like your references to the old-school singers. I think that a big difference now is that singers tend not to gain the same respect if they don't write - or at least make the effort to release original songs. People seem a bit sniffy now about cover versions, as though interpreting a song is not, in itself, a creative challenge. If that attitude had been rife back in the day, we'd probably be missing Ella, Elvis, Dusty, Sandie Shaw, Cilla, ONJ, Sinatra from our lists of the great. Because of the Mamma Mia! franchise, I think we might be waiting a little longer before a "casual" ABBA cover happens and becomes a hit. Up til now, any such release seems to have been heralded as a "tribute" and not just "this is a great song that I thought I could do something with."
Thanks for that, Joe! They stayed pretty faithful to the original arrangement. Helen doesn;t seem as comfortable with the lower notes and the inherent blues/soul feel of the vocal melody but it's pretty good. Delighted to see such a Marmite track getting some love onstage and from the crowd. I think the original backing vocals are the problem with the feel of the track. If the chorus BVs had been tackled by Benny and Bjorn or had been done by the girls an octive down, it could have been a much more sultry recording.
During a resurgence of ABBA's music in the 90's, they finally achieved credibility and acclaim for recording timeless pop songs. However, the movie " Mamma Mia " and its sequel " Mamma Mia " " Here We Go Again " have blemished that and ABBA again are not taken seriously. I am not a fan of either movie and its karaoke performance. Although, I did attend a matinee performance of the stage musical and really enjoyed it. I think too much emphasis centres around " Mamma Mia " the movie etc with Bjorn involved in various enterprises " Mamma Mia " ( The Restaurant ) " Mamma Mia " ( The Party ) etc. This is far too much " Mamma Mia " exposure. Also, I am not keen on " The ABBAtars " project with Simon Fuller. I don't think it will work. I have lost faith with the prospect of the new songs and am convinced we will not hear them as they seem to be delayed time after time. A special televised programme filmed in Sweden with interviews from all four members about their career as a group and the enduring appeal of their music featuring the new songs is what I would have preferred as well as a brand new ABBA 2020 album but you can't be that presumptious can you ?
It would be nice to think ABBA would still be listened to with whatever equipment people will have a thousand years after we're gone. Classical music is still around so why not the music we grew up with.
One of ABBA's Legacies is that more 'recent' Pop Acts have said how great they are, and Ava Max has now 'Sampled' 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!' on her New Single 'Torn'. I've added the Video to the Musicals, Covers and Tributes Forum...
Acts who you think would hate ABBA actually think they are great. Such as U2, who disliked ABBA in the 1970's etc., and called their Music 'Girls Music'. Since then, they have decided that ABBA are fantastic.
As does Noel Gallagher, formerly of the UK Rock Group Oasis. A few Years ago, a UK Music Hall Of Fame was set up. Any Acts could get in it - if they got enough Votes. However, it only lasted for 3 Years. There were 3 TV Shows about the Nominees, and each Nominated Act had a 'Sponsor', who told the Viewers why this or that Act deserved to be Voted into their particular Decade.
The 1st TV Show saw Noel Gallagher pleading - at length - for ABBA to be Voted into the 1970's Section. Only 1 Act per Year could go into each Decade, and there were 4 or 5 Acts put forward for each Decade.
5 Acts were regarded as being so 'special' that they didn't need to get any Votes - they were allowed to be the 1st 5 Acts in the Hall Of Fame - Elvis Presley, The Beatles, U2, Madonna and Bob Marley.
Sadly, ABBA were not given the 1970's 'Entry' for the 1st Year, and it was Queen who got the most Votes for that Decade. The other 4 'Most Votes' Entrants in Year 1, (2004), were Cliff Richard & The Shadows, Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson and Robbie Williams.
A detailed List of the 3 Years of Acts who were Nominated. (The 2006 Ceremony was the last one. This was because they made Viewers lose interest by letting 'Experts' choose the Nominees and Winners, in Years 2 and 3. Once the Viewers could not Vote for their favourite Acts, the Public lost all interest).