The world began to fall in love with ABBA in 1974, when the Swedish pop group, which began singing together on a beach vacation in Cyprus four years earlier, won the Eurovision Song Contest with its oh-so-catchy “Waterloo.”
The ebullient tune soon became the act’s first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 6 in August. ABBA’s two 20-something couples – Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus, and Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad – later saw the Waterloo album, their first American release, peak at No. 145 on the Billboard 200 dated Sept. 21, 1974.
Massively greater success would follow, including five top 40 albums and 14 top 40 Hot 100 singles. Powered by its immaculate harmonies and pristine pop hooks, ABBA has sold over 380 million albums worldwide, according to the band’s management.
Though the foursome hasn’t released a studio album since 1981, ABBA lives on through its enduring music, thanks especially to the lucrative Mamma Mia! stage show. The jukebox musical, based on the act’s songs, opened in 1999 in London and later became the ninth-longest-running show in Broadway history. In 2008, the musical was adapted into a hit movie starring Meryl Streep and yielded its own No. 1 soundtrack. A decade later, the film spawned a sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and another top three-charting soundtrack.
On Sept. 2, 2021, the group announced a forthcoming studio album – Voyage, its first in 40 years, due Nov. 5 – and a series of concerts in 2022.
“We took a break in the spring of 1982 and now we’ve decided it’s time to end it,” ABBA said in a statement released Sept. 2. The group will return to live performances with its residency, ABBA Voyage, set to begin May 27, 2022, in London, in which the act’s members will be depicted as avatars (aka, “ABBAtars”), circa 1979.