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ABBA Return, More ABBA-Esque Than Ever, With ‘Voyage’: Album Review

By Jem Aswad

Executive Editor, Music

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ABBA Voyage

Anticipating a long-awaited yet unexpected reunion is one of life’s more conflicted experiences. Will your old friend look good or awful? Will they be stuck in the past, or a 2.0 or 3.0 version of the person you remember? Most of all, will they still be themselves?

It’s both corny and perfectly fitting to frame ABBA ’s first album in nearly 40 years as a reunion with an old friend. One of the most successful and influential groups in the history of the world, their kitschy lyrics and image — two married Swedish couples dressed in matching outfits! — camouflaged the deceptive complexity and sophistication of their music, which smashed chart records globally and turned them into superstars, but also made them a punchline. Yet their reputation and respect grew exponentially in the years after their 1983 split: The music proved surprisingly enduring as the world caught up with its brilliance, and the business savvy of songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus (who continued to work together) ensured that it remained in the public consciousness, most obviously in the 1994 movie “Muriel’s Wedding” and the ABBA-themed “Mamma Mia!” musical and films.

After decades of the bandmembers playing down any likelihood of a reunion, most fans had given up hope (after all, time waits for no one, least of all vocal cords and waistlines). But three years ago the group — Andersson, Ulvaeus and the peerless singers Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad — announced they had recorded new songs and were preparing some kind of virtual concert experience. Those plans were delayed first by the complexity of the concert and then by the pandemic, but last summer the enterprise roared back to life: Two new

songs followed by a full album called “Voyage” in November! A groundbreaking virtual concert launching at a specially built arena in London in May! Suddenly, ABBA were back in a big way.

The core of this reunion, of course, is the album. What is it about this new music that made the four long-since-divorced members, now all in their 70s, finally take the plunge?

Happily, “Voyage” finds our old friends unmistakably themselves. Andersson and Ulvaeus have said that they made no effort to modernize or contemporize their classic sound based on the current musical climate, and suffice it to say the album backs up that claim: It’s so definitively, timelessly ABBA that it could have come out at any point in the past four decades (and certain moments even feel decades old). They may not be looking for that man after midnight anymore, but the essence remains: delectable melodies, soaring arrangements, sweeping crescendos, dramatic pauses, regal countermelodies, Andersson’s gorgeous piano playing and most significantly, Agnetha and Frida’s singing — the stunning sweet-sour blend that is the single most defining trait of ABBA’s sound. Tempered but strong, their voices have settled into a lower, calmer range, and there’s obviously very little belting — but gloriously, it’s still them, and most of all on the album’s liveliest songs, “No Doubt About It” and “Just a Notion,” which they sing in “Waterloo”-style harmony, with Frida’s tart tone up front.

“Voyage” is bookended by its two strongest songs: “I Still Have Faith in You,” first released in August, a gorgeous, soaring ballad that opens the album with a suitable reunion theme; even more ambitious is the closing “Ode to Freedom,” a swooning, swelling, majestic, orchestral ballad with a Schubert lilt that’s so stately it almost could be some European country’s national anthem.

In between is a combo platter of ABBA styles. “When You Danced With Me” is not a disco anthem but more of a “Riverdance”-type Irish reel; the dainty “Little Things” is a Christmas carol, complete with a children’s chorus. Some are just plain bizarre: “I Can Be That Woman” is like their take on a Tammy Wynette-style epic, with odd, self-excoriating lyrics that start off about a dog, then move on to recapping a troubled relationship (“You say you’ve had it, and you say ‘Screw you’/ I say I love you and I know it’s true.” OK then!).

Certain songs feel like a time capsule — “Keep an Eye on Dan” concludes with a snippet of the piano hook from the group’s 1975 hit “S.O.S.” — and a couple feel time-warped: “Just a Notion” is the kind of ’50s sock-hop pastiche that peppered their early albums, so we’re hearing a ’50s throwback through the lens of a ’70s interpretation, half a century later.

And yes, some moments are extravagantly cheesy: the maudlin lyrics, “Fernando” flutes, synthesizer sounds and guitar solos that make you wonder if they’re kidding. But ’twas ever thus, and let’s be real, ’twouldn’t be ABBA without those things too. Four decades on, ABBA are more ABBA-esque than ever.

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voyage by abba lyrics

ABBA’s Voyage: track-by-track review

Sde’s verdict on the new album.

By Paul Sinclair

voyage by abba lyrics

Don’t know if you’ve heard the news, but ABBA have a new album out. It’s called Voyage and SDE offers it’s verdict on the new 10-track long-player.

I Still Have Faith In You

This opening number is an ABBA 2021 mission statement, of sorts. It’s an openly sentimental number about friendship, doubt, faith, togetherness and longevity. Benny, Björn, Agnetha and Frida tick every single box when it comes to relationships (friends, lovers, wives/husbands, parents, workmates, ex-wives/husbands) and so their feelings towards each other must be deep, layered, complex and rich.

This song could easily have been a simple and straightforward piano ballad, but with ABBA there is always musical ambition, construction, building blocks and different elements to keep you interested. The first two minutes are about rumination. I still have faith in  you  but “do I have it in  me ?” And then at around the two minute mark the questions are answered with a triumphant ‘chorus’ section: “ We do have it in us / New spirit has arrived / The joy and the sorrow / We have a story / And it survived “. Things calm down at the end and we are back to Frida, piano and some strings.

One gets the feeling that this was a song that they  needed  to sing. It sounds like ABBA, which is obviously important, and there’s plenty to enjoy including Frida’s superb lead vocal, some strong melodies and even a hint of ‘Fernando’ drums at one point. The triumphant – somewhat bombastic – section is probably the weakest part of the song but it’s hard not to be moved by the sentiment, which declares “We alive, we’re back and we’re ABBA!” 4/5

When You Danced With Me

This is a Celtic-themed, mid-paced jig which ties in with the lyrical narrative of a guy who abandons his girl and leaves Kilkenny (a county in southeast Ireland, geography fans!) to go to the city – or the “outside world” as it’s described later in the song! The narrator has a good line in passive aggression (“so you left for the city, I hope you like it there”) but she gets her hopes up when he returns for “the village fair” (“could it be / you miss the good times when you danced with me”).

We never find out what happens but presume he’s ‘moved on’. To be honest, the guy might be well advised to get a restraining order out on the narrator, or a least check his legal position, if he wants to drop in on next year’s “village fair”.

The lyric is harmless fluff, but the music is enjoyable enough and ‘When You Danced With Me’ has the ‘clap along’ quality during the verses and resolves nicely into the payoff line and the catchy cèilidh post-chorus instrumental section. The song doesn’t outstay its welcome and is done and dusted in less than three minutes. 4/5

Little Things

ABBA’s unabashed Christmas song! It’s easy to mock a number like ‘Little Things’, but a lot harder to write such a festive ditty. The melody is precision-engineered, in true ABBA style, and wanders off-piste delightfully to the higher end of Agnetha and Frida’s vocal range (“and why don’t we stay in bed for a while”) before coming back around again. Benny and Björn have really aced the self-given brief here and the song’s structure, arrangement and the vocal performance are all of a very high quality. ‘Little Things’ is not crass, it’s gentle, and even when the children’s choir come in at the end, it’s far from overblown and actually introduces some new Christmas Carol-style melody lines. This song is certainly high up the running order of Voyage , but shoving it towards the end of the record would have spoiled the ‘Ode To Freedom’ finale. ‘Little Things’ is one of the most accomplished tracks on the record. 4.5/5

Just A Notion

‘Just A Notion’ sees ABBA revive an outtake from 1978’s Voulez Vous . The original remains unreleased, aside from a snippet being included in 1994’s Thank You For The Music four-CD set by way of the ‘ ABBA Undeleted ‘ medley. The version on Voyage uses the original vocals but apparently replaces most of the instrumentation. There’s a good time, Chas & Dave charm to this mid-paced track, although ironically, sometimes the old vocals feel somewhat buried in the slightly muddy mix and you wonder why they didn’t just alter the key (if necessary) and re-record the whole thing. Still, by definition this is the most like ABBA from ‘the old days’ because it mostly is ABBA from the old days. 3.5/5

Don’t Shut Me Down

This Agnetha-led first person narrative starts beautifully with some wonderful words describing our protagonist hanging around in the park waiting to go and confront her man. There are rich strings, a harp, some ‘ooh, oohs’ and just before you start to wonder if this heading towards ‘ballad land’, a Benny piano glissando and some vaudeville-style saxophone transform ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ into a wonderful perky, mid-paced pop song which has the bounce of  The Visitors ‘ ‘Head Over Heels’ and the knowing lyric of ‘The Day Before You Came’.

‘Don’t Shut Me Down’ is brilliant and doesn’t put a foot wrong, most noticeably in the extremely catchy chorus which combines words and melody beautifully. It’s a great idea to put the women in the position to challenge and confront the man, even if she’s acknowledging she was a bit of a pain before. She goes to his flat and says “ And now you see another me, I’ve been reloaded, yeah / I’m fired up, don’t shut me down “. The next line rather suggests Björn was a fan of Christopher Nolan’s 2010 film  Inception : “ I’m like a dream within a dream that’s been decoded “.

The song flows effortlessly from that preface in the park, to the verses as the narrator confronts who we presume is her ex, to the defiant choruses. There’s a skilful post-chorus section which brings things down and eases us gently back to the verses via that swaggering sax and some strings.

The whole thing is classic ABBA and I’m convinced if this was a single from  Super Trouper  or  The Visitors  it would have been a major hit. And let’s be clear, it sounds a lot like ABBA from 1980/81, which in itself is a remarkable achievement. 5/5

I Can Be That Woman

A slow-paced ballad with Agnetha on lead vocals, ‘I Can Be That Woman’ disconcertingly spends much of the first verse focused on the family dog, ‘Tammy’. The poor thing is stuck in the middle of a relationship crisis and god knows what her fella has trained the mutt to do (“she jerks every time you swear”).

I know ABBA came first, but this song sounds quite Roxette -esque when Agnetha sings “And then you wake up and you’re bleary-eyed / I say I’m sorry, I can see you’ve cried”. In truth, the verse melody is a little bit pedestrian and doesn’t even scan well in places (“Then you curse and kick a chair”) which feels a bit lazy. The chorus is better, although rather like ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’, the lyric is arguably a little bit ‘old-fashioned’ in places (if you are being generous) or sexist (if you’re not) with the woman taking much of the blame and being prepared to change (although, to be fair, she does sing “You’re not the man you should have been” as well).

One of the weaker tracks on the album, this awkward, family drama lyric could have been saved by some pace and a decent tune, but sadly not. 3/5

Keep An Eye On Dan

‘Keep An Eye On Dan’ depicts another family in crisis. This time it’s not Tammy, but ‘Dan’ who is stuck-the-middle-with-you. I’m making the assumption that Dan is a human and not a canine. This song is basically about a joint custody arrangement (“I’ll be back at on Sunday to get him”) with the woman asking her estranged partner to keep an eye on their son – i.e. don’t go to the pub and leave him on his own, you stupid bastard!

Lyrically, it’s almost as weird as ‘I Can Be That Woman’, but this song is MUCH more fun, thanks to some pace, some great synths and a strong melody and arrangement. Bonus points for Benny and Björn evoking ABBA of old with the melody of the line “He throws me his ‘go-mummy’ kiss” and at the end, with a piano motif that references ‘S.O.S.’. 4/5

‘Bumblebee’ imagines a world without, er, Bumblebees, and is pure ‘Fernando’ at the beginning , with recorders and flutes set to acoustic guitars and warm synth pads. It’s a simple little song that reminds us of the pleasures and importance of the Bumblebee and then moves on to consider it “quite absurd” that the pace of change in the world might be “too fast” for this social insect to adapt. ‘Bumblebee’ is sweet and innocent and raises serious global concerns in an almost childlike manner. Frida sings wonderfully and the arrangement is perfect with military drum rolls, acoustic guitar figures, orchestral flourishes and the odd dramatic timpani. Very ABBA. 3.5/5

No Doubt About It

Good though ‘Bumblebee’ is, ‘No Doubt About It’ is some welcome biscuits and cheese after the sweetness of the song it follows. This is a rollicking, fast-paced number with handclaps, pumping bass and a strident vocal delivery and melody. ‘No Doubt About It’ is very hooky and starts with the strong and memorable chorus line (“I messed it up, alright / And there’s no doubt about it”) before going into the equally good verse and brilliant pre-chorus break (“Well, then why, do I let it upset me..”). ‘No Doubt About It’ doesn’t put a foot wrong although it’s hard not to notice that the woman is taking the blame again (“Björn, take a seat on the psychologist’s couch…”). No matter, a brilliant pop song. 4/5

Ode To Freedom

The last ABBA song on probably the last ABBA album, ‘Ode to Freedom’ is a waltz that owes a fair debt to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake . There’s a stately grandeur to this orchestral closing statement, that’s very moving if you are a big ABBA fan. Agnetha and Frida’s voices blend beautifully, both with each other, and with the music. Björn’s thoughtful lyric is also very good, because within it the narrator expresses doubt and ponders what his/her ‘Ode to Freedom’ might be like, should they ever write it. It would be “simple… not pretentious, but with dignity”. In many ways it’s a line that encapsulates how ABBA went about their business in the 1970s and describes the pop music they have given the world. Almost as good an ending to an ABBA album as ‘Like An Angel Passing Through My Room’, but not quite. 4.5/5

Let’s be clear (as politicians like to say), Voyage isn’t the album ABBA would have made after The Visitors if they hadn’t called it a day. The band were finessing their sound in the late Seventies and altering their approach to arrangements and songwriting, album-by-album. This ultimately ended up with the synth-laden masterpiece that was the 1981 studio album, and the standalone single ‘Under Attack’, with its notable use of a vocoder. Look to something like Murray Head’s ‘One Night in Bangkok’ from the Chess musical (co-written and co-produced by Benny and Björn with Tim Rice), if you want to imagine how ABBA might have sounded in 1983 or 1984.

What the band have chosen to do in 2021 is release an album of mostly new songs that together sound like an ABBA ‘greatest hits’, not in terms of the quality of the tracks (although they are largely pretty good), but in terms of the style, sounds and arrangements that go a long way to defining ABBA. If the band told you that these were ALL outtakes from various albums from the 1970s, you would believe them, and that is the key to the success of ABBA’s Voyage . It has the group’s DNA running through all aspects of the record. It does not contain ten songs of the quality of ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’, but that’s okay because Super Trouper didn’t have ten songs of the quality of ‘The Winner Takes It All’, either.

Voyage ‘s weaknesses are its strengths, because while ABBA were unstoppable and unrelenting when it came to near-perfect hit singles, their albums never quite reached the same heights and more often than not had the odd dodgy song, weird lyric, or ill-advised digression. Even The Visitors had ‘Two For The Price Of One’ (although I actually like that song). And so it is with Voyage . Björn’s much publicised comment that the album was recorded “trend-blind” is the secret to the album’s success. Voyage ‘s musical reference points end in 1981 and rather than move on from The Visitors , arguably they’ve stepped back a bit. It’s as if Benny and Björn wrote the name of every ABBA song they’d ever written on pieces of paper, put them all into a hat and picked nine of them out at random; on each occasion declaring: “we will write a song for Voyage that sounds like this !”.

Voyage is more than an ABBA-badged record. It feels like ABBA, sounds like ABBA, and – at the risk of stating the obvious – is ABBA. The band left us in our own ‘Kilkenny’ in the early eighties and we always hoped they’d return “next year” but they never did. Now they’re back. Will you dance with me? Voyage album rating: 4/5

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ABBA Voyage

By Ben Cardew


November 5, 2021

Rarely has a reunion seemed as superfluous as ABBA ’s. In Europe and Australasia, 40 years after they first broke up, ABBA remain omnipotent, an ever-present part of the pop landscape, like guitar solos and interminable Coldplay album rollouts. The band’s legacy may have dimmed slightly in the 1980s, after their split at the start of the decade. But since the early 1990s—and particularly following the release of ABBA Gold in 1992—ABBA’s traces can be found in every nook and cranny of cultural life, from musicals to movies, Madonna to museums .

That means the stakes for the band’s comeback, with Voyage , are both impossibly high and curiously low. (As ABBA co-songwriter Benny Andersson recently told The New York Times , “What is there to prove? They’ll still play ‘Dancing Queen’ next year.”) ABBA could return with a song as irrationally perfect as 1975 hit “S.O.S.” and it still wouldn't resonate with the same lived-in emotional significance as the 19 songs on ABBA Gold . At the same time, as long as ABBA 2021 sound vaguely in line with the classically inspired, slightly nerdy Swedish pop overlords of popular memory, their recorded return will be loaves and fishes to their fans, who have already forked out in their thousands to watch digital avatars of Agnetha, Benny, Björn, and Anni-Frid prance around a London stage.

Much like the forthcoming digital residency, the band’s new album falls somewhere between the lure of nostalgia and the pull of the present day. Voyage is a mixture of songs, old and (mostly) new, that have all the glam boogie, scandi-disco bounce, and epic pop construction of the band’s revered catalog, with some tentative nods to the passing of time. They may have kept the music on Voyage “ absolutely trend-blind ” to modern pop production, but Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad's vocals have a slightly world-weary, aged tone to them, their vocal range a touch lower than in their pomp, while the album’s lyrics frequently speak of old times, faithful friends, and the demands of parenthood.

It feels almost rude to ask for anything more. Voyage is as richly harmonic, smartly constructed, and satisfying as you might expect of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, two of the most talented songwriters in the history of pop music. “Keep an Eye on Dan,” “No Doubt About It,” and “Don’t Shut Me Down” are home to some of the best pop melodies of the year—vaguely unpredictable yet glaringly obvious once heard. They’re also fantastically arranged, with hooks piled on top of hooks, gently arranged on a bed of unusual musical choices, like the suggestion of reggae on “Don’t Shut Me Down” or the gnarled-around-the-edges electronics and irregular cowbell on “Keep an Eye on Dan.” The musical winks to the band’s past are a nice touch, too: “Keep an Eye on Dan” closes with the same piano melody that opens “S.O.S.,” while the soaring flute opening of “Bumble Bee” is surely a nod to “Fernando.”

But, as Benny and Björn’s very successful if never entirely satisfying post-ABBA musical Chess demonstrated, without the vocals of Agnetha and Anni-Frid—perhaps pop music’s most durable lead vocal combination—ABBA are just BB. Their voices are what make the group, and they’re still capable—both solo and in duet—of expressing melancholy and ecstasy within the same breath. On “I Still Have Faith in You” when Anni-Frid declares her enduring faith after all these years, as if through gritted teeth, you can feel the maculate defiance, her voice strong but still haunted by the passing of time. And Agnetha’s delivery of "Don't Shut Me Down”’s opening lines—“A while ago, I heard the sound of children's laughter/Now it's quiet, so I guess they left the park”—is nothing short of devastating.

ABBA understand, perhaps better than any other band, the epic importance of pop music against the humdrum rumble of everyday life. Pop matters to ABBA because people and feelings matter. But ABBA know that pop can also be ridiculous, and it is a relief to find that the band haven’t jettisoned the outlandishness that marked some of their best material, even as they reflect on the passing of the years. “When You Danced With Me,” the very second track here, is a crossover between pop and Celtic jig that even Ed Sheeran ’s “Galway Girl” might consider just a bit too much . “Little Things,” which follows, is a Christmas song that ends with a children’s choir singing about “tiny elves with wings.” Maturity might bring wisdom, but Voyage proves you don’t have to be boring with it.

And yet, by ABBA’s own imperial standards, this is more ABBA Silver than ABBA Gold. “Just a Notion,” the album’s third single, was originally rejected for the band’s 1979 album Voulez-Vous (the Voyage version puts the original vocals over a new backing); winningly chirpy as the results are, that kind of knock back would never have happened to “I Have a Dream,” which places “Just a Notion” squarely in the second tier of ABBA recordings. “I Still Have Faith in You,” meanwhile, is two thirds of a brilliant song, let down by the rather earthbound melody in the song’s verse (if, indeed, it is a verse—these things can be hard to define with a band as hook-laden as ABBA), where Anni-Frid sings “Do I have it in me?/I believe it is in there.” “I Still Have Faith in You” is doubtlessly a great song. But you suspect it would not have passed the band’s titanium quality control in the 1970s, given the strength of some of their unreleased material. In ABBA’s best songs, every second is golden.

Still, a second-string ABBA record is far better than most pop groups can muster, and Voyage is the rare post-reformation album to build upon the band’s legacy without abandoning what we loved about their classic records in the first place. That makes Voyage a surprisingly necessary trip into the present from a band who could have coasted on the warm fumes of adulation ad infinitum.

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voyage by abba lyrics

ABBA Voyage

It’s been a while since we made music together. Almost 40 years, actually. We took a break in the spring of 1982 and now we’ve decided it’s time to end it. They say it’s foolhardy to wait more than 40 years between albums, so we’ve recorded a follow-up to “The Visitors”. To tell the truth, the main inspiration to record again comes from our involvement in creating the strangest and most spectacular concert you could ever dream of. We’re going to be able to sit back in an audience and watch our digital selves perform our songs on a stage in a custom-built arena in London next spring. Weird and wonderful!

To all of you who patiently have followed us in some way or another these past decades:

Thank you for waiting – it’s time for a new journey to begin.

“We simply call it “Voyage” and we’re truly sailing in uncharted waters. With the help of our younger selves, we travel into the future. It’s not easy to explain but then it hasn’t been done before.”

“It’s hard to say what’s been the most joyful thing for me ( Benny ) with this project. If it’s the involvement in creating the concert together with everyone or being back in the studio together again after 40 years. I think hearing Frida and Agnetha singing again is hard to beat. When you come to the arena you will have the four of us together with an absolutely glorious 10-piece band. And even if not in the flesh, we will be right there, thanks to the work of the creative team and ILM.”

“Those first sessions back in 2018 were such fun and when Benny called and asked if I’d ( Anni-Frid ) consider singing some more I jumped at it! And what songs!! My respect and love go out to these exceptionally talented, truly genius songwriters! Such joy it was to work with the group again. I am so happy with what we have made, and I dearly hope our fans feel the same.”

“When we got back together in the studio I ( Agnetha) had no idea what to expect…But Benny’s recording studio is such a friendly and safe environment, and before I knew it I was really enjoying myself! I can hardly believe that finally, the moment has come to share this with the world!”

“They’re such amazing singers those two, I ( Björn) was completely floored by the way they delivered those songs. They’re true musicians; totally unimpressed by pop star glamour but still having a great time being creative in a recording studio. The “Voyage” project has injected new life into us in more ways than one.”

“So, again, thanks for waiting! We hope to see you in the “ABBA Arena” and yes – see – because we have infused a good deal of our souls into those avatars. It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’re back.”

Agnetha, Björn, Benny, Anni-Frid

Stockholm, Sweden, 2nd September 2021

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“I don’t know of anybody who’s done it,” ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus tells Apple Music. “Is there anybody?” He could be talking about the improbability of a Swedish pop group comprising two formerly married couples selling nearly 400 million albums worldwide and counting. He could also mean their impending residency at a purpose-built arena in London in which all four members will perform as ABBAtars—painstakingly motion-captured renderings of their circa-1978 selves—with a live band, potentially until, or beyond, the collapse of civilization. But he’s actually referring to the fact that ABBA is releasing their first album of new music in 40 years, an event that bears little historical precedent. “I constantly have those moments when I think, ‘How the hell did this all happen? Why is it that suddenly on TikTok two million people are following what we are doing?’ It's weird. It's all weird.” This unlikely occurrence started becoming more likely around 2018 when Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson wrote two songs, the cheekily self-referential “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down,” for possible inclusion in the show, and approached their former partners, singers Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. “We asked the ladies and they were absolutely enthusiastic about going into the studio and trying their voices again,” Ulvaeus says. “And then after a while we thought, why not record a couple more? And there was absolutely nobody breathing down our necks.” The result is Voyage—nine new songs and one resurrected from their original incarnation, fitting for a project that renders the very notion of the passage of time meaningless. While ABBA's legacy is long since assured, their ABBAtars could revolutionize the prospects for artists looking to secure career options beyond this mortal coil. “The reason why it works is that we are still alive,” Ulvaeus says. “The cranium does not change over time. The rest of your body falls apart, but the cranium, they could take exact measurements, which they cannot with a video of Elvis. I bet you there are a lot of singers who will have these in a couple years. Everyone should have an ABBAtar.” Take a chance on these stories behind the songs on Voyage from Ulvaeus himself. "I Still Have Faith in You" “When Benny played it to me, I thought, ‘This is really epic.’ It's about us and the bonds we have, about the loyalty we have to each other, and celebrating the fantastic career that we've gone through. Or haven't gone through—there's a lot left of it, as it seems—but there are more layers than that today in that lyric, but that I want the listener to find out by himself.” "When You Danced With Me" “It's a bit Nordic, but maybe more Scottish and Irish. I lived in England for six years, between '84 and ’90, and I used to see these fairs that they had in the villages for the children. And that's what I saw before me when I heard the melody: a village fair, but somewhere in Ireland. It's about leavers and remainers. I grew up in a small town and I left it when I was 20. But somehow I'd come back to that little town and feel I have roots there.” "Little Things" “Benny tells me he didn't think of it as a Christmas song, but I, the minute I heard it, I said it cannot be anything else. It is early, early Christmas morning. The stockings are hanging right there and then this couple wakes up. This could be played for Christmases to come. And that would be great, because we want to own Christmas and New Year's Eve, like with [1980’s] 'Happy New Year.'” "Don't Shut Me Down" “At that time we were kind of getting the hang of what the ABBAtars would be. This is about a woman who has broken up and regrets breaking up. And she is going to come back and see if the guy will take her back. So she sits on a bench in a park and it gets dark. And finally she gets the courage up to go and knock on the door. That's it at face value, but I see it as us, as ABBAtars, knocking on the doors of the fans: Please take us as we are now and don't shut us down. It's a little flirt with the disco of the '70s, but other than that, I don't think that any of the old songs have had any impact on the new songs.” "Just a Notion" “It's from '78 and it's never been released in its entirety before. There's been snippets on YouTube, but we thought it's a great song and it has very good vocals on it. Benny did a new backing track, so the band is new but the voices are old. And it illustrates in a way what we are doing in the ABBAtar concert in London, because we will have a live band but the original vocals.” "I Can Be That Woman" “It's a country song, in essence. And a little gesture to the queen of country, as far as I'm concerned: Tammy Wynette. The good dog is called Tammy. There's a lot of stuff going into that song, but it's basically about someone who has come down from an addiction and finally come down into real life and is sorry about all the wasted years. But there's hope at the end of the tunnel: I can be that woman now. Only we know what is fact and what is fiction about our life experiences together. It's a kind of freedom that you get. With 70, you get that freedom.” "Keep an Eye on Dan" “Dan is the little child; his two parents are divorced and he is being left with one parent. All of us who have been divorced know what it's like to leave that little kid and seeing how absorbed that little kid is with the other parent. And he waves, or she, and you stand there and you feel, 'Argh.' I find it interesting to explore things that happen in relationships that haven't been explored before. I don't think that this has.” "Bumblebee" “I've always found bumblebees or squids as powerful symbols for what we might lose with climate change. It's a symbol of the loneliness we will feel when these creatures perhaps vanish because they cannot adapt.” "No Doubt About It" “I've known a few people who kind of flare up and can't help it, but then very quickly sort of get calm again and say, 'Sorry, sorry, I shouldn't have done that. I shouldn't have said that.' So it is this woman, in that situation she is incensed with her husband, who is very calm. He knows, he just waits for it. And in the end it comes.” "Ode to Freedom" “The concept of freedom is so intriguing and it's so different for different kinds of people. This song is so majestic. I could never say what my freedom is, because that would be received as, 'Oh, you can say that you are rich, you're famous. Da, da.' This is not my ode to freedom; it's about how if I ever wrote one, it would be simple. I don't know what it would be about, but I wish someone would write one.”

November 5, 2021 10 Songs, 37 minutes A Universal Music Group Company; ℗ 2021 1221 AB, under exclusive license to Polar Music International AB

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Audio extras.

Director Johan Renck and Björn discuss the ABBA Voyage concerts.

More of Björn's conversation with the Mamma Mia! playwright.

Björn is joined by the writer of Mamma Mia! the musical.

Nile joins Björn to discuss ABBA's ongoing success.

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Abba voyage: abba’s dignified and emotional new album, and the genius behind the music, by jorge köng, november 8, 2021.

voyage by abba lyrics

Its been a few days already since Voyage was released, and here is our review with a difference! Not only are we delving into the album track by track, but we are also looking at the genius behind the music - one of the B's - Benny Andersson!

There is something constant underneath the tenderness, bitterness, sweetness, joy, sorrow, introspection, and overall emotional rollercoaster that one experiences listening to Voyage , ABBA’s first new studio album in 40 years.  That constant happens to be Benny Andersson , who unarguably is one of the most prolific songwriters of the last century and who also happens to be one of the four members of ABBA.

voyage by abba lyrics

At six years of age, Benny was given his own accordion by family members.  At ten, he taught himself to play the piano.  At the age of 18, Benny had already become the musical driving force behind the most successful pop-rock band in Sweden at the time, The Hep Stars .  The band had seven number one hits in Sweden, three of which were written solely by Benny.

The music for every ABBA song included on ABBA’s nine studio albums was written by Benny alone or by Benny and Björn Ulvaeus. Of course, that includes Waterloo , the 1974 Eurovision song winner which introduced ABBA to the world. 

Abba new music to be released soon

ABBA unofficially disbanded in 1982.  By 1984 Benny and Björn had already written the music for the musical Chess .  With lyrics by Tim Rice, Chess is considered by many Broadway and West End connoisseurs as one of the most impressive musical scores ever written. It also yielded some massive hits like I Know Him So Well and One Night in Bangkok .  Between 1984 and 1994, Benny and Björn wrote songs for various Scandinavian artists and films, some songs so great that if they had been released in Europe and the United States by well-known artists, we would all be singing along to them.  In 1994 Benny completed the music for Kristina från Duvemåla , an extraordinary musical many consider a symphony and Benny’s greatest masterpiece to date.  Time magazine called it “one of the most ambitious swatches of musical theater since Gershwin’s 1935 “Porgy and Bess.”   In the early 2000s the show was translated into English by Björn Ulvaeus and Les Misérables English lyricist Herbert Kretzmer but Kristina is yet to see the light of day on Broadway and West End.  In the early 2000s, Benny also started his Swedish folk band Benny Andersson Orkester (BAO) , a band formed by Benny simply to allow himself to enjoy his love for folk music, but whose music ended up yielding five number ones in Sweden and four Swedish Grammys. 

Fast forward to 2013, Benny , Avicii , and Björn Ulvaeus compose the anthem for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest, We Write the Story . 

Benny’s natural music genius and his rich and varied musical experiences are palpable  in every song on Voyage .

Scroll down for our track by track review, and listen to the album below!

voyage by abba lyrics

1. I Still Have Faith In You

What an opening!  The album opens with this timeless epic ballad full of emotion and nostalgia — thematically an ode to the bond and friendship the four ABBA members still share.  Benny’s beautiful notes combine perfectly with Björn’s personal and intimate lyrics, Frida’s velvety, tender and heartfelt yet powerful voice, and the anthemic chorus where we can finally, after 40 years, hear the voices of Agnetha and Frida sing together again.  The song feels like the theme of an iconic musical or film soundtrack, in this case and appropriately, the soundtrack of the four members of ABBA’s lives. Very touching is an understatement.

2. When You Danced With Me

A bright and deliciously joyful banger that unavoidably creates an earworm after just one play, When You Danced With Me is classic, catchy ABBA but with a folk melody and sound.  You might ask, but when did Benny express his love for folk in an ABBA song before?  You need only listen to The Piper and The Way Old Friends Do off the Super Trouper album and Arrival off the album by the same name to get the answer.  When You Danced With Me’s melody could be straight out of Benny’s folk band BOA, but it comes perfectly upholstered with instrumentation and production that make the song v.e.r.y. ABBA.

3. Little Things

At face value, this song may seem indulgent and simply the result of four very accomplished musicians expressing some of their personal joys as grandparents.  But we must remember that Bjorn is the sole lyric writer on this album, and Benny is the sole music writer.  That fact knocks out that theory.  To me, Little Things is more Bjorn’s inner child coming out at 76 years of age through his innocent lyrics, combined beautifully with Benny’s immaculate knack for classical melody, in this case with precious and perfectly written notes reminiscent of Bach — all packed in one sweet little gift box.  How can anyone with feelings not surrender to this delicate and heartwarming lullaby? 

4. Don't Shut Me Down

This song is what pop dreams are made of and the song on this album where ABBA earns giving all critics (now and forever) the finger.  It is as perfect as anything anyone has ever written in pop history, perhaps except for Dancing Queen.  Oh….wait…who wrote that?  Agnetha’s unique and expressive voice just slightly lower than 40 years ago, the perfectly layered harmonies on the chorus, and a perfectionist production sprinkled over a glorious melody that showcases Benny’s musical sophistication and knack for songwriting, make this song one of the standouts of the standouts of Voyage.  Notice that the word “perfect” was used sparingly.

5. Just A Notion

If you strip this song to the core and play it slowly on a piano, you are left with its essence.  You then realize that beneath a very happy song there is a lot of melancholy, and that is one of the things that make many ABBA songs extraordinary.  By adding an extreme wall of sound with a lot of attention to detail, Benny’s simple, tender, and yearning melody is transformed into an absolutely buoyant, catchy, joyful rockin’ song that can easily be mistaken for bubblegum.  Listen to it a couple of times and you will have no choice but to happily surrender to its pleasure-infusing, serotonin extracting magic.  This song undoubtedly would have also won Eurovision for ABBA in 1974, had it been written and released then instead of Waterloo.    

6. I Can Be That Woman

This song is so emotional and raw it may be difficult for some to contain the tears when listening.  Except for beautifully giving it an elegant acoustic and orchestral outfit, Benny and Björn make no effort in disguising Benny’s sad melody.  Agnetha’s expressive delivery and the song’s serious topic is a new high for ABBA when it comes to their Nordic expression of despair.  We are talking alcoholism and codependence here.  Interestingly, the structure of the melody of the song is very current.  With “mass-appeal” lyrics, an interpreter like Adele could easily take this song to the top of the charts.      

7. Keep An Eye On Dan

This is a brilliant, tense, and unique song only a group like ABBA can properly present to the world. Those familiar with ABBA’s repertoire will instantly detect the similarity of Keep an Eye On Dan’s superb use of synthesizers to that of Under Attack, their last single of the ‘80s.  They will also realize that throughout Keep an Eye on Dan, especially in its verses, a few notes are reminiscent of another ABBA song which happens to be S.O.S.  Benny cleverly used S.O.S. notes here and there, and verbatim at the end of Keep an Eye on Dan, a choice which works extremely well, adding more angst to an already tense and bitter-tinged melody. 

Is it coincidence that Benny references two songs (Under Attack and S.O.S.) that ask or insinuate asking for help, in a new song that is permeated with the worry and anxiety someone can feel sharing custody of a child, or is it just genius?  Are Björn’s lyrics deep to the point of double entendres?  One can’t help but imagine that Dan is sometimes the ex-partner and not the child. 

8. Bumblebee

Perhaps the lowest part of the album, the best part of Bumblebee is we get an angelic vocal performance by Frida, in a simple song that may go unnoticed sitting among other grander songs.  Bumblebee’s lyrics mildly touch on climate change and may seem indulgent, but if you were Björn, lyricist of “the greatest pop group that ever was” in the words of Bono, wouldn’t you allow yourself to indulge a bit?  Benny’s folk melody, in this case, sounds more Pacific Islander but the song’s instrumentation and production make it uniquely ABBA. 

9. No Doubt About It

For many, this one could be the love or hate song of the album.  One either visualizes women in their 70s singing an annoyingly perky and raucous song that sounds like Molly Ringwald should be belching it in a 1985 teenage film, or one hears a fun and playful song with a powerhouse vocal performance irrespective of the age of the performer, in this case Frida.  The song is structurally complex and melodically sophisticated despite its Grease-musical style wrapping, again, showcasing Benny’s gifted and diverse songwriting.     

10. Ode To Freedom

What a closing! As epic and gorgeous as anything the classical greats like Verdi ever composed, this majestic song (that might be a tribute to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake) wrapped in waltz-style could have easily fit in Benny’s musical masterpiece Kristina Från Duvemåla.  It is a perfect ending to an album full of integrity……one that showcases Benny Andersson’s musical genius, Bjorn Ulvaeus simple yet seasoned and introspective lyrics, and the well preserved and highly expressive beautiful voices of Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Fältskog, all of which have created, once again, the magic that is ABBA.

What are your favourite songs from the album? Scroll down to vote in our poll!

Was it worth the wait?

After listening to Voyage and realizing that ABBA sound just like they always did, one might ask why ABBA decided to ignore current music trends.  The answer is integrity.  Artists like Elton John have ended up redoing and mutilating their classic songs with the most popular artists of today, in an effort to remain current; and artists like Madonna sometimes have ended up emulating others or on a creative overboard space, reaping dull and forgettable music.  ABBA, on the other hand, (aware that all of its four members’ talents are still intact, especially those of Benny, ABBA’s musical genius), chose to remain true to themselves, and so delivering a pop album that is simply and beautifully ABBA.  No need to emulate or change anything.  What could you emulate when almost everything out there considered pop music was, in one way or another, influenced by you?

Read more of our ABBA articles by clicking here...

Poll: what is your favourite song on the voyage album.

What did you think of the album? Let us know in the comments below, or shout out to us on social media!

7 Responses

It’s a stunning album – a masterpiece. It has something for everyone IMO. Beautifully played, beautifully sung and full of wonderful, wonderful music. Thank you ABBA for one final album. I will miss you.

We will miss them too…but at least we will have the Voyage show running for years to come hopefully!

I love all the songs, the blend of melancholy and uplifting genius.

Great music as usual reminder of those golden times past. Their music is a stimulation for a new day. Unique songs for sure as usual by ABBA.

Wondered music. Just love listening to it over and over. Simple heartfelt lyrics that stay in your heart and mind. Emotional. Heartfelt. Wonderful, brilliant are words that come to mind easily. I’m their vintage and am in awe

Stunning album 😍😍😍😍ty.Abba.For all the music .

I sometimes wonder if heaven will be like this with endless creativity and variety, thrilling and enthralling us with odes to the one who created us.

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ABBA's new (and final) album is finally here: Is 'Voyage' any good?

voyage by abba lyrics

They’ve been gone for 40 years , but…not really.

ABBA hasn’t been absent from anyone’s lives given the ubiquity of worldwide touring musical phenomenon “Mamma Mia!,” two movies (“Mamma Mia!” and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” ) and songs such as “Dancing Queen” (their only U.S. No. 1, which is simply criminal) and “Waterloo” popping up at many a celebratory event.

Those outliers with no appetite for the Swedish quartet’s slick disco-pop can’t deny the songcraft of Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the wizards behind the ABBA sound. These guys know their way around a melody and deserve respect even from those too hip to cop to appreciating ABBA.

The other half of the group, singers Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, is a special pairing, still never to be duplicated.

ABBA sighting: Group makes rare appearance in Stockholm

So here we are with ABBA’s ninth and final album, “Voyage,” four decades to the month since the release of “The Visitors.” That album bore the hit, “One of Us,” a wrenching ballad about a relationship in shambles, and it reflected on the group as well. Recall that, in a Fleetwood Mac-esque twist, Ulvaeus and Fältskog were married (they divorced in 1979, during “The Winner Takes it All” period), while also-married couple Andersson and Lyngstad split in 1981.

But reunions are a lucrative business, and even though ABBA, whose members are in their early-to-mid-70s, won’t attempt a farewell tour, the quartet is holding a “hologram show” in London in May  with plans for a virtual tour.

Appetite for the group is still insatiable – they’ve sold nearly 400 million albums worldwide and their songs stream at a rate of 16 million per week – so why not give the people what they want?

At least some of the 10 tracks on “Voyage” – all written by Ulvaeus and Andersson – will quench that desire.

The vocals of Fältskog and Lyngstad still shimmer as if it’s 1976 and The Stockholm Concert Orchestra is prominent on most songs, which means much swooping and plushness.

Here’s a look at this “Voyage”:

“I Still Have Faith in You”: An instant return to the formula of a rich vocal building into a bustling chorus. Cymbals crash, snare drums roll, lyrics are delivered dramatically. It’s a collision of instrumentation in all of its ABBA grandness.

“When You Danced With Me”: A sweetly nostalgic lyric paired with a chugging backbeat, the song is also awash in Celtic overtones.

“Little Things”: The angelic twin vocals of Fältskog and Lyngstad paired with a lilting flute conjures the image of an innocent Disney creature frolicking in the woods. The lyrics lean toward holiday cheer, so there’s a reason for this sap. But the children’s choir that arrives at the song’s end is a bit cloying even for the most forgiving fan.

“Don’t Shut Me Down”: A worthy throwback to what people love most about ABBA: silky grooves and melodies in overdrive that sound like ELO mated with Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The song begins with a cinematic sweep from the orchestra before bursting into ’70s-flavored disco. A chef’s kiss to this one.

“Just a Notion”: A hint of ’50s-styled doo-wop, boogie-woogie piano and a creeping bass line. Call it ABBA goes to the sock hop.

“I Can Be That Woman”: It takes a few lines to realize that, despite the title, the lyrics actually refer to a dog that has sniffed out the fact that a relationship has soured. Well, that’s a new approach. But at least we get this clarification: “You’re not the man you should’ve been/I let you down somehow/I’m not the woman I could’ve been/But I can be that woman now.”

“Keep An Eye on Dan”: It’s one of those ABBA songs that fools you with its mirror ball synths, a classic disco rhythm on the high hat and lush harmonizing. But no, this is not “Dancing Queen” redux. It’s about a child of divorce being dropped off at his dad’s for the weekend. The best part is the final notes, a seeming nod to ABBA’s classic “S.O.S.”

“Bumblebee”: A paean to climate change cloaked in synthesizers and flute to tell the tale of well, yes, a bumblebee. To wit: “It’s quite absurd this summer morning/To think we could be trapped/Inside a world where all is changing too fast for bumblebees to adapt/From thyme to bluebell/From hyacinth to lily rose/Oh, how I do adore the sight/Of his rather clumsy, erratic flight.”

“No Doubt About It”: Electric guitar and spunky percussion propel the song, a carefree romp with one glorious chorus.

“Ode to Freedom”: A dozen violins soar and the cinematic veneer is undeniable. But despite its uplift in sound, the message is a bit more dour with its imploring lyrics: “It’s elusive and it’s hard to hold/ It’s a fleeting thing/That’s why there is no ode to freedom truly worth remembering.”

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ABBA’s ‘Voyage’ Review: A More Mature, More Varied, Less Catchy Comeback

Album cover for ABBA's "Voyage."

The ubiquity of classics like “Dancing Queen” or “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” makes it easy to forget 39 years have passed since ABBA broke up. And yet, their music remains just as inescapable; the trademark catchiness of the group’s songs has made them a party favorite and ensured their continued popularity. It’s difficult to add a new album on top of an intimately familiar canon of discography that, to generations of fans, appears untouchable. But that’s what the group did on Nov. 5 with the release of “Voyage.” The title might evoke “Arrival,” but unlike the 1976 cult classic, the new album doesn’t offer the same energetic, captivating melodies. “Voyage” seems like a natural progression of the 1981 “The Visitors” — a more mature, stylistically diverse album, but one without the disco appeal of ABBA’s greatest hits.

Variety is the defining feature of “Voyage,” apparent from the get-go, best exemplified by “I Still Have Faith In You.” The album’s opening track, released as a single back in September, is already a sharp break from ABBA’s usual genre-mixing repertoire. At the beginning, the song is a slow-paced, nostalgic ballad with a dreamlike quality, reminiscent of Madonna’s version of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.” But as the lyrics refocus from the bittersweet past and doubts toward optimism for the present, the track turns into an energetic celebration of victory with synthesizer and electric guitar. The energy and the instruments carry on to “Keep an Eye on Dan,” an engrossing, almost-rock piece with a strong rhythm.

The album ends on a similarly high note. “Ode to Freedom” is as unusual for ABBA as it is fitting. The magnificent, orchestral closing piece — perhaps a bit too closely copying Tchaikovsky’s waltz from “Swan Lake” — is an inspired reflection on the artists’ relationship with their past work. The last song not only closes the album but also forces a reflection on ABBA’s career. The voices, older and mature but still full of passion, further reinforce that theme.

Unfortunately, the album’s stylistic diversity doesn’t always pay off. “I Can Be That Woman,” a slow ballad, feels like a ABBA rendition of a Dolly Parton song — but with none of the country singer’s appeal. Already suffering from an uninspired tune, the track suffers odd pacing that only makes things worse. Added to that, the lyrics not only fit the meter poorly, but — perhaps fittingly for a Swedish band — seem to be a textbook example of Stockholm syndrome, as the protagonist blames herself for her breakup and vows to change. Strangely, this ballad can’t even hold the title for the album’s most bizarre addition. That dubious distinction belongs to “Little Things,” an unabashed Christmas song with pronounced piano instrumentation that manages to be simultaneously completely out of character for ABBA and present little but blandness.

Granted, some of the more “traditional” songs, such as “Bumblebee” and “When You Danced With Me,” prove duller than their modern counterparts. But ABBA of 2021 is still more than capable of delivering the good old tunes that fans are used to. “Voyage” offers songs that are simply, unmistakably ABBA, with catchy choruses, disco tunes, and the marked contrast between joyous melodies and more somber lyrics.

“Don’t Shut Me Down” is the perfect example. It feels as if it belonged on “Voulez-vous” or “The Visitors,” recorded four decades ago by an ABBA in their prime, and should have been played alongside classics such as “Super Trouper” for years. The lyrics, telling the story of a woman confronting her partner, are acting in unison with the music, highlighting all the accusatory moments and bursting with joyful energy as the protagonist asserts her strength and resilience. The chorus is extremely catchy, the melody forceful and upbeat. And perhaps most importantly for a group famous for disco music: It seems made for dancing.

“Voyage” cannot be snuck between “Super Trouper” and “The Visitors” without anyone noticing. The influence of the four-decade long hiatus is clear. It’s not just more of the same catchy music that fits one mould. With more mature voices and a willingness to break with the familiar, ABBA manages to deliver an album that doesn’t simply capitalize on nostalgia, but rather boldly showcases the group’s skills while remaining true to self.

— Staff writer Zachary J. Lech can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @zacharylech.

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ABBA Voyage setlist: Full list of songs performed at ABBA's hologram show


ABBA 's music undeniably transcends decades; its universal appeal bringing cross-generational joy the world over. And now, after announcing their ground-breaking ABBA Voyage show at its purpose-built ABBA Voyage Arena in London's Pudding Mill Lane last year, the spectacle is finally open to fans.

Featuring Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus,  Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad's classic back catalogue, plus tracks from the group's chart-topping 2021 record Voyage , the show uses digital 'ABBAtars' and invites fans to immerse themselves in a 360-degree experience.

The band saw significant uplift on the Official Albums Chart as the show garnered rave reviews, too. Their Gold - Greatest Hits collection recently returned to the Top 10, with Voulez-Vous also proving particularly popular .

If you're going along to one of the shows and want to know what you can expect, we reveal the entire setlist below. Oh, and there's a very exciting update from director Ludvig Andersson, too.

voyage by abba lyrics

MORE: ABBA's Official Top 20 biggest songs in the UK revealed

Abba voyage setlist in full 2022: what songs are performed, the visitors, hole in your soul, knowing me, knowing you, does your mother know, lay all your love on me, summer night city, gimme gimme gimme (a man after midnight), voulez-vous, when all is said and done, don't shut me down, i still have faith in you, thank you for the music, dancing queen, the winner takes it all, where is abba's abba voyage arena.

ABBA's bespoke, 3000-capacity ABBA Voyage Arena venue is location in London's Pudding Mill Lane, right next to the DLR station.

How do I get tickets for ABBA Voyage in London?

Tickets for ABBA Voyage are available through the show's official website .

WATCH: ABBA reunite for the opening night of ABBA Voyage in London

Will ABBA add more songs to their ABBA Voyage show?

There have been whisperings among the fandom that the group may have recorded visuals for additional songs not featured in the show's current setlist, which have now been confirmed by Benny's son and show director Ludvig Andersson.

What has director Ludvig Andersson said about the ABBA Voyage setlist shake-up?

Speaking to Retro Pop Magazine, he teased: "We did more songs than we knew we were going to use. So there is more material.

"If this keeps running and people keep wanting to come and see it, we are intending to change a song out or update the show, because that’s also fun to do."

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Abba pictured in their motion capture suits for the filming of Voyage. L-R: Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson.

Abba reunite for Voyage, first new album in 40 years

Swedish hitmakers to release album of brand new material in November, and digital avatars will appear in London concert residency in 2022

One of the most anticipated comebacks in pop culture has finally come to pass: the return of Abba .

Forty years after the bitter songs written in the wake of two band divorces for their last album, 1981’s The Visitors, the Swedish pop quartet has reunited for Voyage, an album of brand new songs that will be released on 5 November – including, they say, a Christmas song. Two tracks from it, the stately and epic ballad I Still Have Faith in You and the shimmying Don’t Shut Me Down, are out now.

The group – Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Björn Ulvaeus – have also announced a new concert experience in London, also called Voyage, beginning in May 2022. Digital versions of themselves (not holograms, their team asserted) will appear nightly alongside a 10-piece live band at a new 3,000-capacity venue in the city’s Olympic park, called the Abba Arena. Tickets go on general sale on Tuesday 7 September.

Lyngstad said of their reunion: “Such joy it was to work with the group again – I am so happy with what we have made,” and called Andersson and Ulvaeus “exceptionally talented, truly genius songwriters”.

Ulvaeus said of Fältskog and Lyngstad: “I was completely floored by the way they delivered those songs,” with Andersson saying: “I think hearing Frida and Agnetha singing again is hard to beat.”

Andersson added: “We’re truly sailing in uncharted waters. With the help of our younger selves, we travel into the future.”

Abba’s digital avatars were created using motion capture technology, similar to that used by Andy Serkis and others to portray CGI beasts in Hollywood movies: the group was filmed in skintight suits for the lifelike recreations. Wayne McGregor , resident artist at London’s Royal Ballet, choreographed the band’s performance, and an 850-strong team from George Lucas-founded effects company Industrial Light & Magic designed and animated the de-aged avatars from the footage.

McGregor said: “Imagine: growing up in the north of England in the 70s and learning to ballroom, Latin and disco dance to the incredible songs of Abba. I was eight and I was totally transported. Fast forward to 2020, being in Sweden and dancing with Abba – in real life! I was about to be 50 and I was totally transported again. That is the magic of Abba.” He promised “technological wizardry, state of the art immersion and entertainment innovation. And still at its searing heart we simply have new songs, new moves, classic songs, classic moves.”

The footage is directed by film-maker Baillie Walsh, and produced by Johan Renck – best known as the Emmy-winning director of TV miniseries Chernobyl – and Svana Gisla, who worked with Renck on videos for David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar. Also on the creative team is Benny Andersson’s film producer son, Ludwig.

Both the concert and album have been mooted for some time. The avatar concept – or “Abbatars” as Ulvaeus has called them – was announced in 2016 by music manager Simon Fuller (who is not involved with the 2022 iteration). In 2017, Andersson elaborated on the project, saying: “It will take a bit of time, it takes time to digitalise a face. It’s fun that it’s so technologically advanced.” In 2018, a TV show featuring the avatars was announced, co-produced by the BBC and NBC, which has not yet been aired.

The group also announced that meeting up for the project had “an unexpected consequence. We all felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio. So we did. And it was like time had stood still and we had only been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!”

Two songs were initially written and recorded, including I Still Have Faith in You, but their release was pushed back to early 2019, then late 2019, but never emerged. Since then the group have continued writing and recording, eventually ending up with a full album of material.

Digitally de-aged avatars of Abba, that will feature in Voyage.

In the interim, their pop cultural heft has continued to grow. The stage musical Mamma Mia! , debuted in 1999, and recently reopened in London’s West End, reintroduced the group’s hits to new generations. A 2008 film version made more than £440m in global box office takings and is an enduring family favourite: it is the UK’s biggest-selling DVD ever. A 2018 sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, made £285m globally.

Their ongoing popularity has meant that their 1992 greatest hits collection, Abba Gold, is the longest-running album in the UK album chart. In July, it became the first to surpass 1,000 weeks there, and is currently sitting at No 14.

Long before the musical and movies, however, their song catalogue was already one of the most successful – and brilliant – in all pop music. Having formed in 1972, at the height of their fame in the mid-1970s six out of seven singles in a row reached No 1 in the UK: Fernando, Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Knowing Me Knowing You, Name of the Game and Take a Chance on Me. They had three further No 1s and a total of 19 Top 10 hits.

The reunion also brings two pairs of once-married couples back together. Lyngstad and Andersson were engaged in 1971, the same year that Fältskog and Ulvaeus married, but by 1981, both couples had divorced within a year of each other. Their romantic strife was explored with great candour in songs such as The Winner Takes It All, and in the psychodramas of their final album in 1981.

The group fizzled out in 1983 without an official breakup announcement. In the years since, Fältskog released 12 solo albums, most recently A in 2013; Lyngstad released three albums and made occasional one-off recordings.

Andersson and Ulvaeus co-wrote numerous musicals, including Chess with Tim Rice, and in 2013 they worked with EDM producer Avicii to compose the theme for the Eurovision Song Contest , which they had won with Waterloo in 1974.

The group have long denied they would ever perform live again. In 2014, Lyngstad said: “We only have one answer and that is no … No amount of money would change our minds. Maybe we sometimes say it would be good to do a song together again, just a recording and nothing else.”

In 2016, they did perform one song together at a party to celebrate 50 years of the Andersson-Ulvaeus songwriting partnership: The Way Old Friends Do.

Speaking at a London launch event for Voyage, Ulvaeus said the band was as close as they ever were. “It is incredible to be where we are, no imagination could dream up that. To release a new album after 40 years and to still be the best of friends … to still have a total loyalty. Who has experienced that? Nobody … It is such fun and we have been longing for this for such a long time.”

Why do the project now? “We wanted to do it before we were dead,” he said.

Andersson, also appearing, said the worst of the filming was when they had to shave their beards. “I’ve had mine 50 years.”

Ulvaeus said they chose London to host their live show because “London is the best city to be in when it comes to entertainment, theatre, musicals … We have always felt that the Brits see us as their own.”

Asked what the best thing about being in Abba is, Andersson replied, with refreshing candour: “Not having to worry about the money. You are free to do anything, to keep on writing the music.”

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Discover the classic ABBA songs in ‘ABBA Voyage’

Find out more about a selection of the classic ABBA hits that feature in the innovative concert experience ABBA Voyage .

Kate Riley

Calling all dancing queens to the dance floor!

ABBA Voyage is a spectacular concert experience that brings the beloved music of ABBA back to life on stage. Using cutting-edge digital technology and impressive lighting, the show features holographic avatars of the original ABBA members — Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad — performing twenty of their greatest hits.

Audiences go on a journey through the band's iconic discography, experiencing the magic of ABBA's music in a whole new dimension. The show celebrates the enduring legacy of the band, captivating fans of all ages with its blend of nostalgia and innovative technology.

The legendary Swedish pop group left a lasting mark on the music world with their infectious melodies and unforgettable harmonies. With a string of chart-topping hits, ABBA remains one of the most beloved and influential bands of all time. Embark upon a musical voyage and explore some of ABBA's most famous songs and the stories behind them.

Find out more about the songs in ABBA Voyage below, and book tickets to ABBA Voyage in London.

Book Tickets CTA - LT/NYTG


This is the song that started it all when ABBA won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo.” With its upbeat tempo, catchy chorus, and historical references, the song tells the tale of a love as powerful as Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. The tune catapulted ABBA to international fame and became the band’s first global chart-topper.

"Dancing Queen"

This one needs no introduction. Released in 1976, this shimmering disco anthem became ABBA's signature song. “Dancing Queen”’s lively rhythm and empowering lyrics captured the hearts of millions worldwide, making it a classic at parties. The song is a celebration of freedom, love, and the joy of living life to the fullest. Prepare to dance when this song comes on.

"Mamma Mia"

Released in 1975, "Mamma Mia" has become a worldwide sensation. The song's irresistible energy and playful lyrics evoke the spirit of summer and the thrill of newfound love. With its inclusion in the hit musical and movie of the same name, "Mamma Mia" continues to be a fan favourite, getting audiences on their feet and dancing all night long.

"Knowing Me, Knowing You”

The bittersweet ballad "Knowing Me, Knowing You" delves into the complexities of a failing relationship. The heart-wrenching lyrics, coupled with haunting vocals, strike a chord with many.


"Chiquitita," which means ‘little girl’ in Spanish, is a heartwarming song of support and encouragement. Its gentle melody and uplifting lyrics offer solace to a friend in need, showcasing ABBA's ability to deliver messages of love and compassion through its music.

"Lay All Your Love On Me"

In 1980, ABBA unveiled "Lay All Your Love On Me," a testament to the band’s evolution into a more electronic sound. With its captivating beats and catchy hooks, this dance floor anthem continues to get people grooving even today.


An emotional masterpiece, "SOS" has heartfelt lyrics that poignantly convey the desperation of a love teetering on the edge of collapse. Recognised internationally as a distress signal in Morse code, Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson chose the title "SOS" to convey a cry for help.


ABBA's "Voulez-Vous," French for “do you want,” is an intoxicating blend of disco and pop, beckoning listeners to join the party with its catchy chorus and irresistible beats. This vibrant anthem sets the dance floor ablaze with infectious energy, making it an eternal hit that continues to captivate music lovers of all generations.


"Fernando" takes listeners on a captivating journey with its tender melody and nostalgic storytelling. In 2018, pop legend Cher breathed new life into the song with her rendition for the movie "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again." Cher's version skillfully honored the original's sentimentality while infusing her distinct vocal style.

"The Winner Takes It All"

ABBA gifted the world with "The Winner Takes It All," in 1980, a powerful ballad delving into the heartache of a breakup. Agnetha Fältskog's expressive vocals deepen the song's raw, honest lyrics of lost love and the resilience to forge ahead into new chapters of life.

"Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)"

Irresistibly energetic, this disco hit from ABBA reached number one in several different countries upon its release. The pulsating rhythm and soulful vocals make “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” a timeless dance floor favourite.

"When All Is Said And Done"

This poignant tune reflects on the complexities of relationships and the choices we make in our lives. "When All Is Said and Done" was one of the last singles released by ABBA before the group went on a hiatus and eventually disbanded. It marked the closing phase of their successful career.

Book ABBA Voyage tickets on London Theatre.

Photo credit: ABBA Voyage (Photo courtesy of ABBA Voyage)

Originally published on Aug 10, 2023 16:06

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voyage by abba lyrics

See ABBA on stage in a concert 40 years in the making

Blending cutting-edge technology, spectacular lighting, and some of the most beloved songs ever written, ABBA take to the stage in a whole new way. In a stunning, purpose-built arena, one of the most popular groups in history appear as digital avatars in a ‘ground-breaking’ (Metro) concert that really ‘needs to be seen to be believed’ (BBC).

voyage by abba lyrics

See ABBA on stage in a concert 40 years in the making

voyage by abba lyrics

Ticketing Tips


Looking for short term availability?

Join us for our Good Friday matinee performance


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Additional Matinee performances in March, April and May

“Jaw-dropping. A triumph”

The Guardian

“ This bears overstating: I literally could not believe my eyes .”

Evening Standard

“Fantastic. A mind-blowing spectacle”

“‘ground-breaking”, “quite simply awe inspiring”, “ground-breaking pop meets jaw-dropping spectacle, it has to be seen to be believed.”.

Rolling Stone

“Needs to be seen to be believed”

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The ABBA Arena has a wide variety of seated, standing & accessible tickets, take a look below for more information.

Dance Floor

Get closer to the action with our Dance Floor tickets. These tickets are for standing (or dancing) only, so you’ll be closer to the stage than anyone else and free to dance anywhere within the area.

Auditorium Seating

Choose from a wide variety of seats at a range of different prices. Pricing is based on the location of the seats, but in our purpose-built arena every seat is a good one. As with most concerts, please be aware that people around you may stand up and dance.

Dance Booths

We have eight Dance Booths in total, four for up to 10 people and four for up to 12 people. Each booth is named after people from the ABBA universe. These are flexible spaces, so you can book an individual ticket, or book one or more whole booths for your party. Each booth has seating, plus your very own dance floor.

Accessible Seats

The ABBA Arena has plenty of wheelchair spaces, ambulant seats and seats suitable for a wheelchair user to transfer into. All of these seats and spaces must be booked in advance and are clearly marked on our seating plan. 


ABBA Arena, Pudding Mill Lane, London E15 2PJ

ABBA’s breath-taking Arena delivers the perfect setting for ABBA Voyage, offering you a live music experience like no other. The nearest stations are well connected, with easy transport links to the rest of London, local regions and Europe.


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