ABBA snubbed by UK as Eurovision judges gave Swedish band ‘nul points’

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The legendary quartet, who formed in the Swedish capital Stockholm, have just scored their first top 10 hit in the UK for 40 years. ABBA’s new song “Don’t Shut Me Down” has placed at number nine – the band’s first single to reach the top 10 since 1981. Their other new song “I Still Have Faith In You” also reached number 14 as a new entry. The tracks were released earlier this month as ABBA delighted their fans after announcing they had recorded a new studio album.

Abba Voyage, the band’s first LP for 40 years, will be released on November 5.

The band’s Benny Andersson said last week: “At first it was just two songs, and then we said, ‘Well, maybe we should do a few others’.”

ABBA also shocked the music world with the announcement of a string of new concerts called “ABBA Voyage”.

The gigs will see virtual versions of Benny, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (Frida) perform their greatest hits in London next year.

One of ABBA’s most legendary performances also came in the UK when in 1974 the then unheard of band won Eurovision for Sweden.

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The competition, held at the Brighton Dome, saw the band launch themselves onto the international stage.

However, one aspect of their victory that is perhaps lesser known is how the Swedish pop group were snubbed by the UK.

Although ABBA’s rendition of their legendary tune, “Waterloo” captured Europe’s hearts, the UK’s judging panel were not fans, giving it – in Eurovision terminology – “nul points”.

Earlier this year Bjorn appeared on BBC Breakfast in April and discussed the potential reasons for the UK’s rejection of the song.

The musician suggested that giving Waterloo the lowest possible score could have been a tactical move to boost the UK’s own chances.

Bjorn said: “It certainly could have been. Because the Brits were the first ones to embrace us after winning, so the jury could have been as cunning as that – [it’s] very likely actually.

“Because it’s kind of strange they would give us zero points. It sounds like they were trying to do something cunning.”

The UK was being represented by Olivia Newton John, who was touted as a potential winner with her song, “Long Live Love”.

The singer wanted to enter the competition with a different number but had to sing the song after a public postal vote.

Bjorn added: “Frida is a good friend of Olivia. She says that Olivia knew that we would win.

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“We certainly talked that night, but I don’t remember that, it was such chaos I hardly remember anything other than waking up the next day and finding myself and us being all over the globe suddenly.

“[We had] gone overnight from this obscure Swedish band to world fame… so unreal.”

Bjorn also discussed the impact of the pandemic, which he said had been “really, really difficult” for musicians.

He added: “Ever since the pandemic started last year, the artists stopped touring, and there were no performance royalties coming in from the touring.

“But funnily enough, the fact that the artists got stopped from touring made them realise how little they were actually making from streaming.

“They had made 70 percent perhaps from touring and merchandise and all of that stuff, and suddenly they had to survive on streaming.”

ABBA’s own new residency shows, which will take place at a specially-built venue in London, sold 250,000 tickets within three days of release.

The concerts will feature so-called virtual “ABBA-tars” of the quartet, as well as a 10-piece live band.
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