Voyage
Album cover art, showing a solar eclipse
Studio album by
Released5 November 2021 (2021-11-05)
Recorded1978, 2017[1]–2021[2]
StudioRiksmixningsverket, Stockholm[3]
Genre
Length37:03
Label
ProducerBenny Andersson
ABBA chronology
Live at Wembley Arena
(2014)
Voyage
(2021)
Singles from Voyage
  1. "I Still Have Faith in You" / "Don't Shut Me Down"
    Released: 2 September 2021
  2. "Just a Notion"
    Released: 22 October 2021[6]
  3. "Little Things"
    Released: 3 December 2021[7]
  4. "No Doubt About It"
    Released: 11 February 2022[8]

Voyage is the ninth studio album by the Swedish pop group ABBA. It was released on 5 November 2021.[9] It is the group's first album of new material in 40 years following The Visitors (1981),[10] and it contains 10 songs all written by ABBA's songwriters, Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

The album was supported by the dual single release of "I Still Have Faith in You" and "Don't Shut Me Down", released alongside the album announcement on 2 September 2021. "Just a Notion" was issued as the second single on 22 October 2021, followed by the third single "Little Things" on 3 December. A digital concert residency also called ABBA Voyage will take place in London, beginning on 27 May 2022.[11]

Voyage debuted atop the charts of Australia, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. It also became the group's highest-charting studio album ever in Canada and the United States, debuting at number two on the charts in both countries. "I Still Have Faith In You" was nominated for Record of the Year at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, the first nomination for the group.

Background

ABBA informally split up in 1983, following the release of their retrospective greatest hits album The Singles: The First Ten Years in late 1982. Renewed interest in the band grew from the 1990s onwards following the worldwide success of their greatest hits album ABBA Gold, the ABBA-based musical Mamma Mia! and the subsequent film of the same name, and the use of their songs in some other film soundtracks such as The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Muriel's Wedding.

However, the members steadfastly refused to reunite. In 2000, they reportedly turned down an offer of $1 billion to perform again.[12] In July 2008, Björn Ulvaeus categorically stated to The Sunday Telegraph, "We will never appear on stage again. There is simply no motivation to re-group."[13] Ulvaeus reiterated this in a 2014 interview while promoting the publication of ABBA: The Official Photo Book.[14]

On 6 June 2016, however, ABBA did informally reunite at a private party in Stockholm.[15] This led to a more formal reunion. Two years later, in April 2018, they announced they had recorded two new songs,[16] "I Still Have Faith in You"[17] and "Don't Shut Me Down".[18]

The new songs initially were intended to support both a TV special produced by NBC and the BBC[19] and the ABBA Voyage tour which the TV special itself supported. However, this project was later cancelled in favour of the "ABBAtar" tour announced months prior.

One of the album's tracks, "Just a Notion", was previously partially included in a demo version as part of the medley "ABBA Undeleted" from the 1994 Thank You for the Music box set.[20] The reworked song was released as a single two weeks before the album, on 22 October 2021.[6] Whilst the vocals date from 1978, its instrumentation was mostly re-recorded.[21]

Promotion and announcement

Promotion for Voyage began with the website, abbavoyage.com, going live on 26 August 2021.[22] Billboards were erected in London,[23] and social media accounts titled "ABBA Voyage" were also set up.[24] The band announced during a 2 September 2021 YouTube live stream that Voyage would be released on 5 November 2021. The two songs first announced in 2018, "I Still Have Faith in You" and "Don't Shut Me Down", were confirmed as the double-sided lead single from Voyage during the September 2021 live stream.[11]

Tour

During the album announcement live stream, ABBA also announced that a concert residency, known as ABBA Voyage, is scheduled to begin on 27 May 2022 and last until December 2022 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.[9][10]

ABBA first announced they were preparing digital avatars in September 2017. Dubbed the "ABBAtars", they will appear during the ABBA Voyage concerts in place of the four actual band members. To animate the avatars, the ABBA band members wore motion capture suits and were filmed using 160 cameras, with graphics later added by Industrial Light & Magic,[9][25] a visual effects company.

The ABBAtar tour was originally set for 2019,[26] but was delayed due to technical issues. The COVID-19 pandemic then forced the band to push the tour back to 2022, it now turning into a seven-month residency in London.[27][28] As of May 2022 no further tour locations have been announced.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.1/10[29]
Metacritic72/100[30]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[31]
The Guardian[32]
[33]
The Independent[34]
The Line of Best Fit6/10[35]
Mojo[36]
NME[37]
Pitchfork7.4/10[38]
Rolling Stone[39]
The Telegraph[40]
The Times[41]

Voyage was met with positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from professional publications, the album received an average score of 72 based on 16 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[30] Aggregator AnyDecentMusic? gave it 7.1 out of 10, based on their assessment of the critical consensus.[29]

Commercial performance

Voyage sold more than 1 million units worldwide in its first week of release.[42] The album recorded 40,000 UK pre-orders in the first 24 hours following the announcement of its release.[43] Three days after the album was announced, it had received over 80,000 pre-orders in the UK alone. This broke the record for the biggest pre-ordered album for Universal Music UK, previously held by Progress (2010) by Take That.[44] By October 2021, the album had recorded 111,000 pre-orders.[45] Advance orders in the Netherlands totalled 40,000 copies.[46]

The album entered the UK Albums Chart at number one, with 204,000 chart sales, 90% (180,000) of which were physical sales. It was the biggest opening week for an album in the UK since Ed Sheeran's ÷ (2017), and became the fastest-selling album of 2021 as well as the fastest-selling vinyl LP of the 21st century, with 29,900 vinyl copies sold. It is ABBA's first number-one album since ABBA Gold, which topped the chart in 1992, 1999 and 2008.[47] It became the 3rd biggest album of 2021 in the UK with 400,000 units and the 2nd best-selling album with 387,000 pure sales.[48]

In Germany, the album also entered at number one on the albums chart with over 200,000 chart sales. In its first week, it sold more copies than the rest of the albums chart combined and also reached the top of the year-end albums chart for the time being.[49] In Italy the album debuted at number six on the albums chart.[50]

Voyage became ABBA's highest-charting album in the United States, entering the Billboard 200 at number two on 20 November 2021, beating their previous high of number 14 with ABBA: The Album in 1978. It opened with 82,000 album-equivalent units, including 78,000 album sales (60,500 of which were physical), making it the highest-selling album of the week.[51]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus.

Voyage track listing
No.TitleLength
1."I Still Have Faith in You"5:09
2."When You Danced with Me"2:50
3."Little Things"3:08
4."Don't Shut Me Down"3:56
5."Just a Notion"3:31
6."I Can Be That Woman"4:01
7."Keep an Eye on Dan"4:05
8."Bumblebee"3:57
9."No Doubt About It"2:56
10."Ode to Freedom"3:32
Total length:37:03

Personnel

ABBA

Other vocalists

Other musicians

Production and design

Charts

Certifications and sales

Certifications and sales for Voyage
Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[99] Gold 35,000double-dagger
Austria (IFPI Austria)[100] Platinum 15,000double-dagger
Denmark (IFPI Danmark)[101] Platinum 20,000double-dagger
France (SNEP)[102] Platinum 100,000double-dagger
Germany (BVMI)[104] 2× Platinum 400,000[103]
Japan 25,839[105][106][107][108][109][110][111][112]
Netherlands 40,000[46]
Poland (ZPAV)[113] Gold 10,000double-dagger
Sweden (GLF)[114] 2× Platinum 60,000double-dagger
United Kingdom (BPI)[116] Platinum 387,000[115]
United States 78,000[51]
Summaries
Worldwide 2,050,000[117]

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history

Release dates and formats for Voyage
Region Date Format(s) Edition(s) Label Ref.
Various 5 November 2021 Standard
Japan 2×CD Standard + ABBA Gold Universal [118]
CD + DVD Standard + The Essential Collection [119]
CD + 2 DVDs Standard + ABBA in Japan [120]

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