For ABBA, the firsts have come in threes this year. In November, they landed their first top 10 album on the Billboard 200. Later that month, they received their first Grammy nomination. Now, they are releasing their first Christmas single, “Little Things.”
The simple song is a gentle reflection on the joy of Christmas morning and family time around the holidays. The ballad has specific holiday references, including “As a brand-new day is dawning/ It’s a lovely Christmas morning.” And “Oh, what joy Santa brings/ Thanks old friend for packing Christmas stockings full of nice little things.”
“Little Things” is the third single from Voyage, following “I Still Have Faith in You” (which received a Grammy nomination for record of the year) and “Just a Notion.”
Proceeds from the sale of “Little Things” will go to UNICEF to support the Global Child Protection Fund. The members of ABBA — Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Andersson and Ulvaeus — said in a statement, “We think it is impossible to eradicate poverty without the empowerment of women. That’s why we support UNICEF in protecting girls from sexual violence and empowering them through the Global Child Protection Fund. We have done so for many years with our song ‘Chiquitita’ and now we have decided to give UNICEF a Christmas gift in the form of a second song.”
Sophie Muller, a top video director who is described in a press release as a “longtime ABBA fan,” directed the “Little Things” video. Muller was just beginning her career as a video director in 1982 when ABBA retired. Muller won a BRIT Award for British video of the year for Shakespear’s Sister’s “Stay” in February 1993. Eight days later, she won a Grammy for best music video, long-form for Annie Lennox’s Diva. Muller has also worked with such artists as No Doubt, Gwen Stefani, Sade, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Radiohead and Björk.
The “Little Things” video is a take on the production behind ABBA Voyage, the series of concerts featuring digital versions of ABBA that will open in London next year. Centered around a group of school-age children, many of whom are close to (or related to) the creative team behind the concerts, the kids are inspired to create an ABBA Voyage Christmas Special. They embark on the enterprise of motion capture, choreography, costume design, stage lighting and band rehearsals, culminating with the arrival of parents and family members to watch a performance by the re-imagined ABBA.
Voyage entered the Billboard 200 at No. 2 on the chart dated Nov. 20, beating the quartet’s previous high of No. 14, set with The Album in 1978. Voyage opened with 82,000 album-equivalent units, including 78,000 in album sales, which made it the top-selling album of the week.
Voyage reached the No. 1 spot in 18 countries, including the U.K., Germany, Australia and Sweden.
Next year will see the opening of ABBA Voyage, which will see the group’s members as digital avatars at their own especially built ABBA Arena at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. They will perform a set of ABBA’s greatest hits along with two songs from Voyage, “I Still Have Faith in You” and “Don’t Shut Me Down,” alongside a 10-piece live band.
ABBA Voyage is directed by Baillie Walsh, and produced by Svana Gisla and Ludvig Andersson.