Doesn’t November 5th seem like a long time ago?
It must to the people behind ABBA, the Swedish pop group. Until then, ABBA hadn’t released a new album since 1982. Their hits from the 70s and early 80s were wildly popular, the basis for a Broadway musical and two movies.
So the idea of releasing a new album, and putting together a stage show full of avatars — not the singers in person — must have seemed like a good one. When they announced it, ABBA made it seem like the pope was not only coming to town but raffling off dinner in people’s homes.
Dreams die hard, however. This week, six weeks after “Voyage” debuted, it’s not anywhere to be found on the iTunes Top 200 albums. On Amazon, the “Voyage” CD is number 14. But the total sales are just about 100,000 copies. The album, featuring mediocre songs, is a dud. There are no hit singles. According to Spotify only two of the songs have streaming action. But the numbers are low. “Don’t Shut Me Down” has just over 39 million streams. “I Still Have Faith in You” has 24 million. The others average 3.5 million streams.
Over at theater built for the avatar show in London, tickets are moving slowly. “Voyage” opens at the end of May 2022. For the first month are so, tickets are sold for seats but there are plenty of standing room only opportunities on the “dance floor.” By mid July seats begin to open up and by August and September, if you want to sit in a theater with fake video versions of the Benny, Bjorn and the women, you’ve got plenty of choices.
How did things go so wrong? First of all, the show looks dreadful. The real ABBA isn’t there. Who wants to sit and watch ciphers sing those songs? Then there’s the album. Without a breakout hit, there’s little to no interest. And honestly, those songs are painful compared to “Waterloo” or “SOS.” They’re laborious, lacking hooks or freshness. They sound like ABBA knock offs.
The ABBA well may have run dry at last. Maybe there’s a third “Mamma Mia” they can put together. But “Voyage” is sunk.