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ABBA ‘VOYAGE’ OUT NOW —FIRST ALBUM IN NEARLY 40 YEARS – Essentially Pop

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The long-awaited studio album Voyage by ABBA, out now on Capitol Records. LISTEN HERE.

The ABBA Voyage concert opens May 27, 2022, at the ABBA arena, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.

ABBA, one of the most successful pop groups of all time, release their new studio album Voyage today, marking their first album in nearly 40 years. Listen here via Capitol Records.

Details of Voyage were announced early September, along with ABBA Voyage, the revolutionary new concert that will see Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid performing digitally with a live 10-piece band, in a purpose-built ‘ABBA arena’ at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London from May 27th 2022.

Following the announcement of the brand-new album, ABBA broke Universal’s record making it the fastest ever pre-order of all time in the UK in just three days with over 80K copies.

The band commented at the time:

“It’s been a while since we made music together. Almost 40 years, actually. We took a break in the spring of 1982 and now we’ve decided it’s time to end it. They say it’s foolhardy to wait more than 40 years between albums, so we’ve recorded a follow-up to “The Visitors”. To tell the truth, the main inspiration to record again comes from our involvement in creating the strangest and most spectacular concert you could ever dream of. We’re going to be able to sit back in an audience and watch our digital selves perform our songs on a stage in a custom-built arena in London next spring. Weird and wonderful!”

Voyage will be ABBA’s first studio album since The Visitors, which was released 30th November 1981, hitting the #1 spot in the UK, Sweden and five other countries. The album was one of the earliest albums in history to be pressed on CD format. Voyage also comes nearly five decades after the band’s debut album Ring Ring, released in 1973.

As with all previous ABBA studio albums, Voyage was written and produced by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, their arrangements and lyrics complemented through the unmistakable and timeless vocals of Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Much of the programming and mixing was undertaken by Benny, with the album also featuring the Stockholm Concert Orchestra.

The new album saw the four members of ABBA head back into Benny’s studio Riksmixningsverket in Stockholm over a four-year period to record the ten songs that feature on the album. These include ‘I Still Have Faith In You’, and ‘Don’t Shut Me Down’, the first two songs to be recorded in these new sessions, and that will both feature in the ABBA Voyage concert alongside a set-list of the band’s greatest hits.

About the album release, Benny Andersson says:

“We knew if there was a show, we would need a couple of new songs to go with it…When we got into the studio after 39 years it was like no time had passed…we had a great time. I speak to Frida and Agnetha, and know they’re extremely happy having done this.”

Anni-Frid Lyngstad continues:

“Those first sessions back in 2018 were such fun and when Benny called and asked if I’d consider singing some more, I jumped at it! And what songs!! My respect and love go out to these exceptionally talented, truly genius songwriters! Such joy it was to work with the group again. I am so happy with what we have made, and I dearly hope our fans feel the same.”

Agnetha Fältskog adds:

“When we got back together in the studio, I had no idea what to expect…But Benny’s recording studio is such a friendly and safe environment, and before I knew it I was really enjoying myself! I can hardly believe that finally, the moment has come to share this with the world!”

Björn Ulvaeus ends:

“…So now we have ten songs – a whole album, called Voyage – because it’s been a voyage, into uncharted territory…There must be something with the combination of Frida and Agnetha that makes that unique sound – when they started singing, it was ABBA.”

Voyage Tracklisting

  1. I Still Have Faith In You
  2. When You Danced With Me
  3. Little Things
  4. Don’t Shut Me Down
  5. Just A Notion
  6. I Can Be That Woman
  7. Keep An Eye on Dan
  8. Bumblebee
  9. No Doubt About It
  10. Ode to Freedom

The concert ABBA Voyage is directed by Baillie Walsh (Flashbacks of a Fool, Being James Bond, Springsteen and I), and produced by Svana Gisla (David Bowie Blackstar/Lazarus, Beyoncé and Jay Z for HBO, Springsteen and I) and Ludvig Andersson (And Then We Danced, Yung Lean – “In My Head”, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again).

Tickets for ABBA Voyage are on sale now from abbavoyage.com.



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Why Dance Music Is Popular During Recessions

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With “Break My Soul” and Honestly, Nevermind, global superstars Beyoncé and Drake are raising pandemic-belabored spirits and inspiring a return to the dance floor. Meanwhile, the Black Eyed Peas are gearing up to drop another album; they kick-started their comeback era by collaborating with Shakira and David Guetta.

Considering the needle is moving toward house and dance music again, some are starting to wonder if the musical climate in 2022 is alluding to an impending economic recession.

After all, high-octane bangers from the likes of BEP, Lady Gaga, Flo Rida and Beyoncé dominated the Billboard Hot 100 year-end chart when we were in the midst of the Great Recession in 2009.

Lil Wayne even explicitly referenced the economy taking a hit (“And honestly, I’m down like the economy…”) on his verse on Jay Sean’s inescapable club anthem “Down.” The track wound up closing out the Top 20 on the year-end chart.

Vox notes that escapism plays an important role in pop music. A popular song can distract us from what is going on in reality and transport us to a place where our worries fade away.

Guetta and Akon’s “Sexy Chick,” Cascada’s “Evacuate the Dancefloor” and Guetta and Kelly Rowland’s “When Love Takes Over” — all serotonin-boosting, carefree club songs that promote escapism — claimed the top spot on Billboard‘s Hot Dance Airplay chart at some point during the same year.

Eventually, songs such as Lorde’s “Royals” pointed out the inequalities that were heavily emphasized by the recession following economic resurgence. The icy track came out in 2013, marking a darker, more mellow sonic shift for pop in the process.

In the depths of the last recession, however, Afterglow notes that many artists released songs that spoke to a relatable struggle. However, pop’s brightest shining stars delivered the distractions.

Gaga demanded that we “Just Dance” the night away on her smash, music landscape-shifting debut. BEP dropped “I Gotta Feeling” and decreed that “tonight’s gonna be a good night.” Bey settled for nothing less than a diamond ring on “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” Jamie Foxx and T-Pain turned to Henny, Goose and ‘Tron on their booze-addled “Blame It.”

The times were tough, but the radio and the clubs suggested otherwise.

A similar trend occurred during the Great Depression nearly 100 years ago. Hollywood’s movie industry didn’t seem to take a hit. According to NPR, around 80 million people filled movie theater seats at least once a week during a time when budgets were tight.

Music provided similar opportunities for escape. Song titles such as “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries” would seem to be at odds with the times. Vox notes another popular song of the era was called “Pennies From Heaven.” A Spotify playlist that references the era contains “Tin Pan Alley ‘cheer up’ ditties” alongside “hard times blues.”

While the music wasn’t all about having fun, Living History Farm points out that dance floor-friendly genres such as jazz and swing music had a big moment during the late 1920s and 1930s. Years before the Great Recession of the aughts, people turned to dancing when they needed a break from reality.

Now in 2022, people are looking at the flailing economy and current musical releases that throw it back to the early aughts. They’re wondering if what’s popular on the radio is a sign to batten down the hatches and prepare for another recession.

The Washington Post reported on the risk of a recession in 2023 earlier this year. The New York Post noted an expert claimed the U.S. was already in a “soft recession,” while the Deccan Herald alluded to the possibility of avoiding a devastating financial crash.

Now, people on social media are looking to the hits of today for evidence of what to expect. The mood isn’t altogether bleak, though. Our finances might come crashing down around us, but at least the music will slap.

“House/dance music is always popular when the recession is BIG and NASTY,” someone posted earlier this month in a viral tweet that spoke to the masses. It was liked nearly 125,000 times. Meanwhile, a thread on Reddit warned of a recession thanks to the racing beats that are defining popular tracks.

That was the mentality one TikTok user displayed in a viral video they made soundtracked by Flo Rida and Guetta’s soaring 2010 anthem “Club Can’t Handle Me.”

“I know everyone’s worried about the recession or whatever but i personally am very excited for the return of this specific genre of club music,” they wrote over the clip. “The type of music that they only made when the economy was in absolute shambles. Nothing hits like the bangers that were produced when the market was tanking.”

So is Queen Bey’s house banger “Break My Soul” — which comfortably debuted within the Top 20 on the Hot 100, according to Billboard — “an anthem for the Great Resignation,” as CNN hints?

Or is it a warning sign for economic catastrophe looming just around the bend?

We can’t say for sure just yet — but at least the beats will be fat, even if our wallets aren’t.

Songs That Dominated the Billboard Charts





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DARK CABARET – New York’s London Plane Land Goth-Tinged Sophomore Album ‘Bright Black’

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Dark passions, personal grief and the rise of right-wing populism provide the fuel for Black Bright, the new release by goth/post-punk rockers London Plane.

The follow up to 2018’s New York Howl sees the six-piece traversing some very black territory, leavened by sardonic humour and sparkling musical arrangements.

Led by vocalist and guitarist David Mosey – a kind of amalgam of Iggy Pop, Lux Interior and The Psychedelic FursRichard Butler – this six-piece collective of Big Apple veterans certainly knows how to play.

For much of the album, Mosey’s guttural baritone underpins co-singer Jessica Cole‘s cut glass, soaring pipes – think Andrew Eldritch and Patricia Morrison in The Sisters of Mercy.

It’s a ploy that works well, adding an air of unease and tension, which contrasts with the slick musical arrangements.

The guitar-playing by Mosey and Kristofer Widholm is uniformly excellent – angular and spiky one minute, polished and funky the next.

The production too, is well thought out and pristine, though perhaps a little too smooth for these ears.

London Plane - Picture by  Alice Teeple
A Walk On The Wild Side – London Plane shot by Alice Teeple

Indeed there’s a sheen to many of these songs which can make them seem a bit cold and impenetrable – though that may well be the intended effect.

There are familar gothic tropes – ghosts, devils and the like – but plenty of surprises too.

The Bowie-esque Watch That Madman Go takes a pop at the rise of Trump and his ilk, while the title-track is an anti-war song with a difference.

There’s high-concept sci-fi on Homocosmos – the name of the next step in evolution, when humans reach out to unknown worlds.

While The Wish with its lovely Morricone-like spaghetti-Western chord progression, has lyrics which could have been witten by Terry Pratchett:Once there was a haunted hell/spinning on a tortoise shell’.

Best of all though is the wonderful Electric Clock. which sees the band at its most unhinged.

A full on cabaret show tune, it sounds like Peek-A-Boo by the Banshees, crossed with The New York Dolls, with a bit of Sally Bowles thrown in for good measure.

Much more of this kind of weirdness and London Plane’s next musical offering should make for a very intriguing prospect.

London Plane * Watch That Madman Go * OFFICIAL VIDEO



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Fans Have Some Theories About J-Hope’s ‘Jack in the Box’ Album

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BTSJ-Hope is gearing up to release his second solo project, an album called Jack in the Box on July 15.

The project marks the rapper’s first foray into an official solo album, following 2018’s Hope World mixtape.

On Hope World, the concept and music represented J-Hope’s signature sunny personality and vibrant aesthetic.

With Jack in the Box, J-Hope seems to be pushing new boundaries and exploring a darker side to his persona, especially with the first single, “More,” out on July 1.

The concept photos depict Hobi in a much darker aesthetic with him photographed in the shadows wearing a jester’s hat while the first teaser shows a mysterious key backed by a beat and J-Hope’s infectious yell, “‘Cause I want some more!”

Of course, ARMYs have tons of theories about what’s to come on the album!

One theory referenced the shoes J-Hope wears in the concept photos.

One tweet pointed out how J-Hope’s shoe represents the J in the album’s title.

“[They] ALSO ARE BLACK AND WHITE FORMING A CHECKMATE. IN FACT CHECKMATE [SYMBOLIZES] AN IRREFUTABLE VICTORY SO [I GUESS] ONE OF THE 2 HOSEOK’S PERSONAS WILL WIN,” the person elaborated.

“I’m fascinated by folklores and their (often dark) origins & Jack in the Box is especially so. The J is a stylized boot – a homage to Jack-In-The-Box’s true origins; a clever exorcism of a devil with the aid of an old boot,” another fan wrote to start another thread about the possible inspiration behind the shoes.

Another ARMY noted, “In addition to working on the songs, [Hoseok] is said to have participated in the album concept and the overall composition of Jack In The Box. His attention to the details is just *chef’s kiss*.”

“The imagery used for Jack in the Box’s concept is closer to a Jester than a classic Clown. Jesters, also called “Fools,” were entertainment in medieval courts,” one fan explained.

Another popular theory leads to Pandora’s box.

“After she closes the box only hope is left stuck in the box and again [Hobi] wants to show [a] different side of himself compared to the bright and saturated image he normally portrays,” the fan said of the Pandora’s box theory.

@MoonieJoonieee said, “Thinking about the Jack out of the box as this silly outgoing persona brought on by external influences (like us the fans and what he wants to show us) what is he like when no one is looking, when he is in the box? Does Jack WANT to be in the box?”

Check out more fan reactions and theories, below:

K-pop Idols Who Went Solo From Their Groups

 





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