Abba has just released two new songs for the first time in forty years! The Swedish pop group has reunited to put out a new album on November 5, 2021, and we can’t contain our excitement! To celebrate, we have compiled a list of ten fascinating facts about Abba that are essential to know before their new album debuts.
1. Their origin story begins in Cyprus
The band Abba originated almost on a whim. In 1970, two couples (Agnetha Fältskog with Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson with Anni-Frid Lyngstad) went on a vacation to Cyprus. The group’s members were all musically inclined but had never performed together. This all changed on their holiday when they started singing at the beach and then ended up performing in front of United Nations soldiers stationed in Cyprus.
2. Abba wasn’t the band’s original name
The group eventually settled on the name Abba as it was an anagram for the first letters of the names of the four band members. However, before they came up with Abba, the group initially called themselves Festfolket, which means “party people,” in 1970.
Their first song, which came out in 1972 and was called “People Need Love,” was actually credited to “Björn & Benny, Agnetha & Anni-Frid.” In 1973, their manager advised them to get an easier name, resulting in a competition being held in a Swedish newspaper to help find a new moniker for the band. Before landing on Abba, the group considered the names Alibaba, Baba, and Fabb.
3. Abba was the name of a Swedish seafood company
Once they had landed on Abba for their band name, there were additional hoops they had to jump through to obtain this name legally. Abba was originally the name of the Abba Seafood company, which specializing in canned herring and other products. The company decided to let the group use the name in 1974, as long as the band didn’t make the company “ashamed for what you’re doing.”
4. What’s with the outrageous outfits?
If Abba isn’t known for their (outstanding) music, they’re remembered for the wild outfits they wore on stage while performing. Most people assume the way they dress is a nod to disco fashion in the seventies, but in reality, the group chose to dress this way because of Swedish tax laws. If clothing could not be categorized as “daywear,” it could be written off for tax purposes. Although their costumes were legendary, they certainly did not fall into the category of casual, everyday dress.
5. More popular than the moon landing
Although Abba was widely successful all over the world, they were extremely popular in Australia. A 1976 TV Special, “The Best of Abba,” made specifically for the Australian market, got more views than the 1969 moon landing.
6. They were paid in oil commodities
According to the Swedish people, Abba was second only to Volvo in their contribution to Swedish exports in the 1970s. The band was very popular in the Soviet Union, especially, but because this was during the Cold War, all currencies from behind the Iron Curtain were embargoed. As Abba could not accept rubles, they received royalty payments from the Soviet Union in oil commodities.
7. The most iconic Eurovision win of all time?
Abba famously won the 1974 Eurovision competition with their hit song “Waterloo.” In fact, in May 2020, “Waterloo” was even voted the best ever song to be performed at the European contest. However, during the 1974 competition, the United Kingdom awarded Abba zero points – or “nul points” – for their performance. Perhaps the UK didn’t award any points to Abba because they posed the biggest threat to their entry that year, Olivia Newton-John. However, Abba went on to win the 1974 competition even with no points from the UK, making this win even more iconic for the group!
8. They hung out with Led Zeppelin
Although Led Zeppelin and Abba were two of the most popular bands of the 1970s, one wouldn’t typically think they’d often hang out together. But in 1978, Led Zeppelin recorded an album at Abba’s studio, Polar Studios. Led Zeppelin member Jimmy Page stated that Led Zeppelin went out to a club with Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson one night when the two bands were working at Polar Studios.
9. Millions of people tried to get tickets for their London concert
Abba announced they would embark on a brief tour of Europe and Australia during the summer of 1977. After announcing this tour, nearly 3.5 million people applied for tickets for Abba’s London show at Royal Albert Hall. This venue could hold 5,272 people, meaning that Abba could have sold out this venue hundreds and hundreds of times.
10. It wasn’t until 2008 that Abba scored a number one album in America
Despite being one of the most popular bands of the 1970s, Abba never saw major chart success in America – until 2008, at least.
Their highest-charting album initially was Abba: The Album, which peaked only at number 14. Only four out of the band’s eight studio albums managed to crack the top 20. However, in 2008, correlating with the release of Mamma Mia! Abba’s Gold album finally hit the number one spot in the United States.