‘It’s a no’: Abba rule out showing at fiftieth anniversary of Eurovision win

In the event you had found out methods to get a hologram to do your job, would you ever hassle going to work once more?

In all probability the one folks on the earth who can reply that query with any authority are Abba, who’ve performed to greater than one million folks in London previously yr with out even having to depart the home.

It ought to maybe be no shock then, that the group have dominated out returning to the Eurovision contest for a last time when it’s held in Sweden subsequent yr.

Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, the band’s foremost songwriters, mentioned they’d not reunite with Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad to mark 50 years since they received the 1974 contest with Waterloo.

There had been more and more feverish hypothesis that the band would reform and maybe even compete as Sweden’s entry, regardless of having not performed collectively since showing on Noel Edmonds’ The Late Late Breakfast Show on the BBC in 1982.

In a recording for the BBC’s Newsnight programme on Thursday night, Andersson mentioned there was “no approach” the group was going to reunite and even stroll on stage collectively throughout Eurovision.

“I don’t need to,” he mentioned. “And if I don’t need to, the others received’t.

“It’s the identical for all 4 of us. Somebody says no – it’s a no.”

Ulvaeus, who additionally mentioned it was a no from him, added: “We are able to have a good time 50 years of Abba with out us being on stage.”

Their feedback do, nevertheless, depart the door open to an look from the quartet’s “Abbatars” – digital versions of themselves, that are at present taking part in to sold-out crowds each night time in London as a part of Abba Voyage.

Björn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Fältskog and Benny Andersson arrive for the opening performance of Abba Voyage in May 2022.
Björn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Fältskog and Benny Andersson arrive for the opening efficiency of Abba Voyage in Could 2022. {Photograph}: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Greater than one million folks have been to see the multimedia extravaganza because it opened final June in a purpose-built area within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, many paying greater than £100 a ticket.

Abba, who’ve bought greater than 400m albums and singles, have been the primary Swedes to clinch a Eurovision victory. This yr Loreen sang Sweden’s seventh winning song, Tattoo, having already triumphed with Euphoria in 2012.

Abba received Eurovision once more in 2005 with Waterloo at a particular version of the competition to mark its fiftieth anniversary, however didn’t play reside. For his or her final ever efficiency collectively on Edmonds’ present greater than 40 years in the past, they carried out Thank You for the Music.

Whereas they have been in killjoy mode for his or her followers, Ulvaeus and Andersson additionally poured chilly water on rumours {that a} third version of the hit musical Mamma Mia! was within the works.

“Folks need to do it,” Andersson mentioned. “Common [Music Group] needs to do it. “[The Mamma Mia! producer] Judy Craymer needs to do it.”

However he insisted that with out modifications to the script and setting – a fictional Greek island – “there’s not going to be a subsequent Mamma Mia! movie. That’s simply wishful considering.”

‘I’m a really non secular particular person!’ Eurovision winner Loreen on concern, fame, household and preventing for human rights

I meet Loreen in what I do know, from meeting Sam Ryder here last year, is the fleeting habitat of the Eurovision elite – the Langham lodge in central London. Reverse the BBC, it’s completely positioned for the wave of broadcast interviews that ensue, and the perfect setting – refined luxurious in impartial tones – to be completely overwhelmed. The 39-year-old shouldn’t be overawed, although, since she has gained earlier than, in 2012, making her the primary lady to win twice within the competitors’s historical past.

Loreen’s successful entry for this 12 months, Tattoo, has already been streamed 60m times on Spotify alone and, as I kind, it is just Monday. A mere 48 hours after the occasion, it’s additionally the ninth most downloaded Eurovision tune ever and it’ll go increased. For those who haven’t heard it, it’s a well-executed piece of pop balladeering, with traces of Katy Perry to attract you in earlier than it takes over with its personal distinctive brio.

It’s my honest perception, although, that what may look like overexcitement – Loreen’s vitality and verve, big hand gestures, expressive face and air of pleasure – aren’t in response to what occurred in Liverpool in any respect. That is simply her character. Jagged fringe, metre-long tiny plaits snaking out of her common hair like rope, puckish, childlike physique language (cross-legged one minute, dancing the subsequent), beautiful dimpled face; she retains beaming at me like an previous pal.

Loreen initially stated no to being Sweden’s entry for a second time. “I’m a bit purpose-driven, so I assumed: ‘What’s my objective right here? What can I provide you with guys?’ However every time I stated no, there was this dense vitality round me.” She appears to be like on the ceiling, shoots her eyes again at me knowingly, and murmurs “non secular particular person”, as if she’s telling me a narrative and footnoting it on the identical time. Wanting again on the ceiling, she continues, “Universe? Severely? Is that this the best way you need me to go?” If she have been 5% much less self-mocking and vaudeville, it might be annoying; as it’s, she is extremely enjoyable to look at, and that’s earlier than she even begins performing.

The moment Loreen won in Liverpool.
The second Loreen gained in Liverpool. {Photograph}: Dominic Lipinski/Getty Pictures

She’s been residing like an athlete since October, she says, as a result of Tattoo, between the crescendos and the primal, sinewy dancing, was extraordinarily demanding: “I imply, I’m mendacity in a mattress of sand. My nails are made out of stone. There may be the sky. There may be the mist, there’s the wind.” That is all helpful clarification, since I didn’t get that she was communing with the earth. “The one factor I don’t have is water. However then once more, I sweat!” Her tone turns critical. “We’ve created a reasonably messy world, haven’t we? With all this data? The place can we floor ourselves?” I’m nodding enthusiastically, sure, nails product of stone, that sounds proper. She shrugs, grinning. “What can I say, I’m a really non secular particular person. I’m a nomad from the Atlas mountains.”

On that: she was born Lorine Zineb Nora Talhaoui in Stockholm and each her dad and mom have been first-generation immigrants from Morocco. Her mom arrived in Sweden at 14 with nothing, fleeing an organized marriage. She met a person and had Loreen, the eldest of six, when she was 16. Loreen hares off briefly to inform me about her great-grandmother: “Her husband bought killed within the struggle, she was stunning, she was additionally very younger. The household needed her to remarry. She didn’t need this. So she dressed up as a person, took her two youngsters and fled to Algeria.” At this level Loreen is utilizing her hair to imitate a litham, the face protecting of the nomadic males of north Africa. “She raised her youngsters, nonetheless dressed up as a person. I’ve an image of her with a gold tooth. The ladies in my household fought actually arduous to get me to the place I’m at.”

Again to Stockholm, 1989: her mom now has six youngsters and remains to be solely 22, and Loreen’s dad and mom break up up. “I needed to develop up fairly quick,” she says, “as a result of we had to assist one another out. We didn’t have any household in Sweden. There are such a lot of issues I didn’t perceive as a result of I used to be raised by a baby myself. Nonetheless, at present, I gained’t know: is Christmas the twenty fourth or the twenty third?” It was a tough scrabble and the household was very poor. There have been upsides, although: “The gorgeous factor once you’re raised by a teen is that it’s arduous to be judgmental as a result of no person’s taught you ways, you already know? ‘That’s unsuitable’ or ‘that’s proper’.”

When Loreen was 13, her mom married once more: “He got here in with this very bizarre vitality. You’re raised by a single mom, it is a very highly effective, decided lady. After which this huge, delicate, Swedish Santa Claus arrives. My mom was all about surviving. My stepfather was extra like, ‘Perhaps we must always simply relax a little bit bit. Calm down, benefit from the small moments, this connection, right here. Every little thing doesn’t should be a wrestle.’ I feel he taught us easy methods to present love.” That was actually not the course I used to be anticipating, from “very bizarre vitality”.

One sibling is an artist, one other a surgeon, one other works in advertising and marketing, one other has his personal enterprise. She makes a reasonably indeniable factors about migrants and refugees, grounded in first-hand expertise. “You need to have a objective as an individual, you need to really feel such as you matter. You don’t need to sit round and never do something. When we have now our immigrants coming in to Sweden, we simply make them sit there and wait. Allow them to have a objective. Allow them to be part of this society. That is actually necessary. In any other case there’s segregation. How do you construct up a confidence, the place individuals suppose, ‘I earned this. I did this’?”

With her trophy in Liverpool at the weekend.
Along with her trophy in Liverpool on the weekend. {Photograph}: Dominic Lipinski/Getty Pictures

Singing, within the rest room and in church, was the one approach Loreen discovered any moments to herself as a baby. Within the melee of 5 siblings, “it was a sanctuary, one thing I had for myself.” So when she took her voice to Swedish Idol in 2004, “it was so painful”, she remembers. “Someplace I knew it was crucial, I suppose – I didn’t even understand how a microphone labored … I didn’t know what it was wish to be judged, singing was so non-public. However that shock, what got here out of it, I realised I wanted to know all of this. As a girl, you need to know your stuff. In any other case individuals will come alongside and say, ‘Darling, we’ll repair this for you, you don’t have to fret.’ I need to be in management.” She’s nonetheless very a lot the self-taught maverick and doesn’t perceive why individuals do vocal arpeggios earlier than they go on stage. “For those who have been going boxing, you wouldn’t train for a few hours earlier than,” she says. “Your physique would say, ‘Come on, give me a break.’”

In 2005, she launched her first single, The Snake, and introduced a present on Swedish TV. “I wasn’t that good, I truthfully sucked at it.” She then spent numerous years as a section producer and director for actuality TV reveals earlier than coming into Melodifestivalen in 2011, a tune contest virtually as previous as Eurovision, which determines Sweden’s entry. It does this fairly successfully – they’ve now won seven times, to make them, jointly with Ireland, the competition’s most profitable nation. “I used to be shitless scared. However I did it, as a result of I knew it was crucial. For those who take a look at my efficiency [in Melodifestivalen], I used to be hiding. That is the unconscious thoughts: the large costume, the physique language, individuals have been like, ‘That’s very inventive’, which it was, however I used to be hiding. The second I really feel concern, I’ve to go in. As a result of I don’t need concern to regulate my life.”

Loreen was uncommon in 2012’s Eurovision, for a number of causes; the tune, Euphoria, is fairly good and made the UK charts in its personal proper, staying there for a lot of weeks after the competition. No shade on this magnificent spectacle, however the successful entries are sometimes fairly kitsch and don’t work out of context. The competitors that 12 months was held in Baku, Azerbaijan, and he or she had a gathering with a neighborhood activist group that she had discovered by Civil Rights Defenders, a Swedish NGO that helps grassroots organisations. Azerbaijan has a historical past of imprisoning political activists. The nation’s authorities was enraged by Loreen, lodging the acquainted grievance, that she had “politicised” Eurovision. Swedish diplomats defended her. “I knew precisely what I used to be going to do as a result of I imagine that there’s nothing extra necessary than human life. What did they need me to say? ‘Fuck a human life. Folks can have distress and wrestle – it’s not necessary as a result of I’m going to sing my bloody tune’? How is that even potential?”

Later the identical 12 months, she carried out in Belarus and met the spouse of Ales Bialiatski, the incarcerated pro-democracy activist who went on to win the Nobel Peace prize, whereas nonetheless in detention, 10 years later. “I don’t just like the phrase ‘political’,” Loreen says. “It’s so small – I want there was a much bigger phrase for it. My individuals use music as a really highly effective instrument – you’ll be able to create actions with it, relying on what kind of vitality you’ve. How can that not be political? Take a look at the Kalush Orchestra,” she says, referring to final 12 months’s Ukrainian Eurovision winners. “This tune introduced a variety of hope to the Ukrainians.”

She was performing in Ukraine the evening earlier than the Russians invaded, and carried out in a fundraising gala for Ukraine lower than a month later. Explaining her dedication to varied causes – she’s additionally campaigned for women’ training in Afghanistan, and inalienable youngsters’s rights – she factors to her upbringing. “Seeing what I’ve seen in my life, I’ve seen poverty, I’ve seen ache in all other ways. There are good issues and unhealthy issues about being raised by a single mom.”

Loreen performing at Eurovision 2013 in Malmö, Sweden, the year after winning for the first time.
Loreen acting at Eurovision 2013 in Malmö, Sweden, the 12 months after successful for the primary time. {Photograph}: Ragnar Singsaas/Getty Pictures

To return to the politics of Eurovision, one factor it’s been extremely good at is establishing worldwide norms round LGBTQ+ visibility: from Paul Oscar, the first openly gay contestant in 1997, to Dana International, the first trans performer, who won in 1998, to Krista Siegfrids kissing her feminine backing singer on stage in 2013, there has lengthy been a really clear message that no person was going to cover to spare the emotions of bigots. Turkey, according to its broadcaster, no longer enters Eurovision due to its homosexual and transgender contestants. And whereas the Hungarian broadcaster hasn’t stated as a lot overtly, Hungary has been absent since 2020, which is coincidentally when Viktor Orbán intensified his open persecution of the LGBTQ+ group, instituting a ban on LGBTQ+ content in schools or kids’ TV the following year. Loreen got here out as bisexual in 2017, though “the rationale why individuals learn about that”, she says, “is as a result of a newspaper requested me a query, and I answered, ‘Love is the place you discover it.’ The journalist stated, ‘So, you’re bisexual?’ And I stated, ‘I suppose I’m, as a result of love is the place you discover it. Love is love. It has not a lot to do with this [gestures towards to her pudenda] a lot as this [clasps heart].’ She thinks she may subconsciously have been drawn to Eurovision due to the “acceptance, as a result of I like the values of Eurovision. I like the truth that it doesn’t matter what background you’ve – so long as you include love and respect, you’re allowed to be there.”

Loreen is, after all, Sweden’s final darling proper now: on Tuesday there was a victory march in her honour. She introduced the trophy dwelling in time for the fiftieth anniversary of Abba’s 1974 win; there are already rumours that the group will carry out at subsequent 12 months’s competitors. She’s philosophical concerning the adulation. “You generally is a favorite, after which it’ll flip. You’re up, you’re down. I’ve a floor rule: I don’t need to know what persons are saying, I don’t need to know the constructive, I don’t need to know the destructive. If they are saying I suck, after all I’m going to care. In the event that they suppose I’m the best, that’s an excessive amount of stress. I don’t need to go on that rollercoaster.” Triumph and catastrophe, adulation and critique, are simply the pure rhythm of life, she concludes: “The way in which it really works, daylight, evening, we get born after which we die, it’s actually arduous to dodge that.”

I’m not a non secular particular person, however I’ve to say, I like the entire bundle, from the stone fingernails to the stoic acceptance of dying. Our time collectively has come to an finish and he or she is dashing out to get a cab to absorb extra Eurovision glory. “Thanks, you’ve a pleasant vibe,” she says. “No, no, no,” I reply. “The good vibe is all you.”

Loreen’s single Tattoo is out now.