“You asked me not to leave, well here I am again”

If there’s one thing worth bringing Popjustice out of semi-hiatus for it’s the long-awaited return of an iconic, platinum-selling four-piece pop jug­ger­naut whose acronymised name alone can reduce grown adults to tears. But enough about JLS, whose new single is out today, and let’s talk ABBA.

Specifically, let’s say:

  • Of the two new songs, Don’t Shut Me Down is THE ONE.
  • The best pop songs are often about one thing (eg a rela­tion­ship) and another thing (eg a band making a comeback). Don’t Shut Me Down is about that one thing and that other thing, but it’s also about a third thing: a popstar returning as a spooky infinite digital pop entity.
  • There was a moment at the end of the launch event last night when Don’t Shut Me Down had just started playing and Benny and Bjorn were making their way from the stage to the back of the room. Benny stopped for a moment and when the beat dropped (do beats drop in ABBA songs? Let’s go with it) Benny turned to the room and mimed the piano swoop. As he did that he smiled, and as he smiled, he and I made eye contact. I’m still computing it all to be honest but right now it feels like the most mean­ing­ful moment I’ve exper­i­enced in 25 years of loitering around popstars.
  • Shortly after that I was intro­duced to Ludvig Andersson, the producer of the new show (among other things), and I asked him if once the digital ABBAtar things had been created, it would be possible to amend them for special occasions, for instance chucking Santa hats on the band for Christmas shows. “In theory yes,” he said, “but…” “But basically no,” I offered. “No,” he agreed. And that was that.
  • Interesting to note following my recent tweet about whether Voyage is pro­nounced ‘voyage’ or ‘voyage’, it’s actually pro­nounced ‘voyage’.
  • A few years back, before any of this current stuff was announced, I was thinking of doing a website called JUST ONE SONG: a petition, of sorts, request­ing just one more ABBA song, and laying out the reasons this should happen, and could happen with minimum rigmarole for the band’s members. It would have included a reas­sur­ance that the band wouldn’t need to do any press, or touring, or media stuff. Perhaps B and B have made a similar reas­sur­ance to A and A. Either way, ten new songs is abso­lutely ideal.
  • Ten new songs!
  • TEN!
  • Maybe I lack ima­gin­a­tion but when I was con­sid­er­ing what the band’s first press shot might look like — and there’s been plenty of time to consider it, given that new music was first announced a few years ago — one look I didn’t consider was Tron: The Gameshow. Yet here we are. What a time to be alive.
  • What a time to be alive’ is quite a powerful expres­sion in this context isn’t it? A lot has happened in forty years and I can’t be the only one today thinking of all the people who loved this band and aren’t around today to hear these new songs. How lucky we all are, in so many different ways, to hear this music.
  • Nobody’s making much of the fact that one of the ten new songs is called Keep An Eye On Dan. Who is Dan? What’s he playing at? Why can he not be trusted? If you think you might be Dan, please step forward.

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