Rina Sawayama is gearing up to release her sophomore album Hold the Girl on September 16, and single “This Hell” features a recognizable guitar riff from ABBA‘s “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).”
In a new interview with BBC, the singer revealed that she got ABBA’s stamp of approval for the track. When she realized the guitar riffs were similar, she said she “freaked out” and called her publishers. “They were like, ‘ABBA are absolutely going to say no to this, and you have to change it,'” she recalled.
In a panic, Sawayama re-recorded the song with a different guitar hook. “But then I was like, ‘You know what? This is crazy. I’m sure I can figure this out,” she said. “So I called up Elton John and I said, ‘Elton, do you know Benny or Bjorn from Abba?'”
John had a contact at Universal Music, and sent “This Hell” to Sweden along with a handwritten note from Sawayama. “I said: ‘Look, I love your music. I’m happy to split the publishing. I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean this to happen,'” she explained, before received a reply from ABBA’s Benny Andersson with the stamp of approval. “No problem. Absolutely fine. All the best,” she said.
“So that song,” Sawayama concluded, “has the blessing of ABBA!”
Sawayama announced her upcoming North American tour in July. Kicking off on Nov. 1 in Brooklyn, NY at Avant Gardner, the 13-date run will see the star cross the U.S through Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and Arizona, before closing out with a show at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles.
Listen to “This Hell” below.