STOCKHOLM — ABBA is trying to prove disco will never die.
The Swedish pop group announced Friday it has reunited after a 35-year hiatus to record a new album and tour the world — but with a 21st century twist. The quartet will be replaced on stage by digital avatars of their former selves.
Hologram-style recreations of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad will perform a couple new songs in a TV special later this year in the build-up to the tour. Simon Fuller, the creator of American Idol, is organizing the concert series using a mix of virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
“The decision to go ahead with the exciting ABBA avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence,” the band wrote on its Instagram. “We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio.
“And it was like time had stood still and that we only had been away on a short holiday. An extremely joyful experience!”
ABBA have recorded two new songs and one of them,“I Still Have Faith in You,” will be performed by digital avatars in a TV special set for broadcast in December.
Bands can make hundreds of millions of dollars from reuniting for a global tour. The Guns N’ Roses reunion grossed $292.5 million in 2017, making it the biggest tour of the year after U2.
The potential windfall from a hologram tour is less clear. Promoters and artists have used holograms for stunts, including a performance at the Coachella Music Festival by deceased rapper Tupac Shakur. But ABBA is perhaps the first major music group to tour the world in a digital form.
ABBA rose to fame after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with “Waterloo,” and went on to record hit songs “Dancing Queen,’’ “Take A Chance on Me’’ and “Mamma Mia.’’
ABBA is one of the most commercially successful music groups in history with more than 375 million albums and singles sold. They released nine studio albums between 1973 and their breakup in 1982.
Andersson and Ulvaeus composed a musical called Mamma Mia! that was later adapted into a couple movies.
The group’s members are now in their 60s and 70s. In the past, they have rejected calls to reform and have appeared only rarely together in public.
The success led strains within the group and the couples that formed the band, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog, and Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad eventually divorced. —Bloomberg/Reuters