“You can dance… You can jive… Having the time of your life…”
Virtually, that is.
Anyone who loves 70s Swedish pop quartets or Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried singing their hearts out on the big screen, knows of ABBA. They would also know that ABBA announced a reunion album on September 2nd, forty years after their band's breakup. This reunion album, titled "Voyage," is to be released November 5th of this year, which will surely mend the hearts of those crushed by the tragic breakup in 1982. But, that’s not all. ABBA also announced a 2022 concert, kicking off on May 27th. The ABBA Voyage Official Website writes, “See ABBA’s avatars accompanied by a 10-piece live band, in a custom-built arena at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.”
You read that correctly: avatars. Fans who buy tickets to this concert will be witnessing a virtual ABBA experience, where the members are using technology to configure their images onstage, but not really on stage. With the constant trials and tribulations that the spread of COVID-19 has riddled on the world, ABBA has decided to take extra precautions while trying to bring a wonderfully made concert to the table for their fans. In order to create these avatars, ABBA is collaborating with image technology, like those used in Star Wars movies, to replicate themselves as they perform. This concept may be strange since most of us remember concerts as screaming until our voices are gone. However, because of the pandemic, this virtual-concert route is becoming more common among musicians.
Most artists follow a structured cycle in making their music: album release, followed by a tour. These tours offer both a profit for the artist and a connection with their fans, but packing hundreds of thousands of people in a stadium doesn’t exactly bode well for a global pandemic. Despite this, some artists have decided that continuing their concerts through a screen was the next best thing in (you guessed it) these unprecedented times.
Both big and small artists alike have utilized virtual entertainment throughout the pandemic. BTS held their Map of the Soul ON:E concert virtually in October of 2020, Adam Lambert hosted a virtual event for this past Pride Month, Ariana Grande collaborated with Fortnite for her Rift Tour in August, and Justin Bieber is pairing up with T-Mobile this coming December for his New Year Livestream. And now, we have ABBA.
Though some fans may be a bit bummed that after forty long years they only have the opportunity to see their favorite quartet reunite via avatars, it doesn’t seem like it will always be this way. The future of attending concerts is still up in the air in some ways, seeing as some musicians are going back to full concerts at the inclusion of vaccination proof, while others are continuing their virtual route. Doja Cat and Harry Styles have already gotten back to performing in-person, and will most likely soon be followed by others as the pandemic clears up slowly but surely.
So, ABBA fans out there, make sure your earbuds are in, your computer is charged, and your spirit is up for their virtual performance!