ABBA Plans to Record Songs, Reunite for a Hologram Tour

  • FILE - In this Feb. 9, 1974 file photo Swedish pop group Abba, from left: Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus posing after winning the Swedish branch of the Eurovision Song Contest with their song "Waterloo". The members of ABBA announced Friday April 27, 2018 that they have recorded new material for the first time in 35 years. (Olle Lindeborg/TT NEWS AGENCY via AP)

Friday, April 27, 2018

ABBA is trying to prove disco, or at least its era, 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 onstage by digital avatars of their former selves.

Hologram-style re-creations 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 account. “We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio.”

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 and went on to record hit songs Dancing Queen, Take A Chance on Me and Mamma Mia. Andersson and Ulvaeus composed a musical called Mamma Mia! that was later adapted into a couple of movies.