Featured Music

ABBA Voyage: The Virtual Show Unexpectedly Soars

A ‘Voyage’ of nostalgia

ABBA have done the impossible. Despite virtual reality concerts having a bad rep, the creators have managed to put on a spectacular show that beautifully marries the old and the new on ABBA Voyage.

ABBA Voyage
ABBA displaying the technology, from the Rolling Stone

ABBA Voyage, as it’s called, will be housed in a purposefully built arena in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The show is made up of state-of-the-art holograms which projects delightful moving images of the four members, that is made up of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. ABBA Voyage and its “ABBAtars” will reside in East London until the end of May 2023, before embarking on a three year world tour with a 10-piece live band.

But I know what you are thinking, ‘who would pay an arm and leg to watch a projector?’ Well, it’s more than a cartoon. In fact, the band members were immersed in the creative process, and their movements were captured by 160 cameras, as they performed songs over and over again. The band wanted to create a realistic representation of ABBA, in their prime, and in order to accomplish this, the technology needed to capture every minute detail, from facial expressions to their individual quirks and mannerisms. And in this sense, it was a job well done!

ABBA Voyage
ABBAtars from Noise 11

Putting a show together of this scale is a financial and reputational risk. In an interview with the Sunday Times, the band (minus Agnetha) talked about the pressures surrounding Voyage: “It’s an immense risk, and most people I talk to don’t appreciate that,” said Ulvaeus. “Sometimes I wake up at four in the morning and think, ‘What the hell have we done?’” he said, possibly in relation to the whopping £15 million price tag associated with the production costs, which is rumoured to have come out of the personal pockets of the band members. On the other hand, the potential profits are too massive to miss out on.

Voyage is over 5 years in the making. It was produced by a skilful team, led by Svana Gisla and Ludwig Anderson. In an interview with the Daily Express, a grateful Ludwig confesses, “we did all the technical legwork, but it only works because of them.” He continues: “It’s their souls infused in every aspect. It was their desire, their ambition to do this. It moves me to watch it, you can feel what they feel, all the soul behind their eyes. If you go away thinking it was an impressive scientific feat, we will have failed. It has to feel real” – and the team achieved just that.

“A dazzling retro-futuristic extravaganza,” says the Guardian; “the band’s virtual concert needs to be seen to be believed (BBC)”; “Spectacular London Return of ABBA After 40 Years,” reviewed Forbes. It is clear that Voyage achieved a landslide of positive reviews, which will no doubt help keep the magic alive for their one year tenure at the venue, dubbed, “ABBA Arena.”

The opening night was attended by an array of famous faces, from Kylie Minogue to Kate Moss – as well as members of the Swedish Royal Family. The fact that ABBA themselves were in attendance, added a sort of emotion to the evening, as the famous four joined fans in a nostalgic sing along.

ABBA at the opening night, from BBC

As we are entering an age where immersive technology is progressing at a rapid pace, its no surprise that music fans are hesitant about the future of gig going. Of course, no amount of technology can recreate the same energy that comes about when watching your musical heroes perform right in front of you, in the flesh. But for ABBA, there is a general feeling that holograms were the right approach. Voyage sees the future beautifully intertwined with nostalgia. This is how you do it.

Featured Music

9 Nordic Pop Artists You Should Know

The leading voices of Nordic pop

For decades now, Sweden, alongside other Nordic and Scandinavian countries, has been churning out mega pop hits, left, right and centre. With the likes of ABBA, Europe and A-Ha – the northern countries have always had a strong foothold in popular music. But moving into the 21st century, the melody machine appears to have no signs of slowing down.

Robyn From New Yorker

Here is an exploration of 21st century Nordic pop through 9 talented — mostly female — artists.

9. Icona Pop

Nordic pop stars Icona Pop
Icona Pop © Kim Metso

The Swedish electronic duo first stormed the charts with a Charli XCX produced track I Love It. The band’s two members, Caroline Hjelt and Awino Jawo, grew up in Stockholm and are inspired by the city’s fascination with electropop and dance music. The Swedish press once described their aesthetic as music “you can both laugh and cry to.”

8. Agnes

Nordic Pop Star Agnes
Agnes © Carl Bengtsson

You may remember Agnes’ huge smash from 2009, titled, Release Me, which was one of the biggest songs of the year. Since then, Agnes has vanished from the music scene, releasing very little. To the surprise of many, in 2021, Agnes returned with a brand-new album, Magic Still Exists, which boasts an Avant-Garde marketing campaign, and an edgier sound than her previous work.

7. Sigrid

Norwegian Pop Star Sigrid
Sigrid © Stian Schløsser Møller

Sigrid hails from the sleepy coastal village of Bergen, Norway. Here, a teenage Sigrid and her brother began experimenting with producing pop songs, which, to their surprise, took off and landed them a record deal. Since then, there has been no stopping Sigrid: performing at Glastonbury, winning BBC Sound of 2018 and embarking on huge world tours.

6. MØ

Mø in concert
Mø © Tore Saetre

Born in Denmark, MØ is probably most known for her vocals on Lean On, a track she co-wrote with producers Major Lazor and DJ Snake. Lean On became one of the biggest selling songs of 2015 and helped cement MØ as one of Denmark’s biggest musical exports. MØ’s sound can be described as indie-pop with electronic overtones. Her raspy vocals help pack a punch, which led to a trio of radio hits.

5. Lykke Li


Less mainstream and more underground, Lykke Li’s music flirts with pop but is mainly dark and experimental. Li explores “the spectrum of love and pain” through her music – which is described as having “the sounds of 50s and 60s girl group” vibes. In 2011, a relatively unknown artist remixed Li’s I Follow Rivers, opening her back catalogue up to a new generation of fans. Since 2011, I Follow Rivers (The Magician Remix) has cemented itself as a dance floor classic and has accumulated over 367 million streams on Spotify – not bad for an underground indie artist.

4. Robyn

Nordic Pop Star Robyn
Robyn © Getty Images

If you’re a fan of pop, then you’re probably a fan of Robyn. Dancing on my own, released in 2009, is one of the greatest pop songs of the 21st century. This melancholic, but also uplifting track never seems dated, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to be played on any dance floor. With 8 albums in her discography, Robyn is certainly no one-hit-wonder. The latest release, Honey, gained critical acclaim across the board and churned out a series of bops adored by a largely queer audience. Over two decades on from her debut album, Robyn is still at the top of her game.

3. Zara Larsson

Nordic Artist Zara Larsson
Zara Larsson © Craig McLean

Another Swede on the list. Born in Solna, Zara now calls the capital, Stockholm, her home. Zara is best known for her clean pop sound, Rihanna-esque vocals and flawless production. In just a few albums, Zara has had hit after hit, some of which include Lush Life, Never Forget You, Symphony (with Clean Bandit) and Ruin My Life.

2. Bjork

Nordic Pop star Bjork
Bjork © Bernhard Kristin

The first Icelandic star on the list, Bjork is a powerhouse of creativity. Bjork’s work spans multiple genres, although her most famous pieces, such as, It’s Oh So Quiet, and Army of Me, tend to fall into the avant-garde and electro-pop subgenres. In 2000, Bjork poured her talent into the film industry, as she starred in the musical drama, Dancer in The Dark. Here Bjork managed to transfer her theatrical musical persona into the big screen, which earned her a positive response from critics.


Nordic Pop Stars ABBA
ABBA © Getty Images

No list would be complete without one of the biggest bands in pop music history, ABBA — who made an astonishing comeback last year. For those unaware, the name ABBA is made up of the initials of the four members’ first names: Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid (Frida). Formed in 1972, ABBA has become one of the biggest selling bands of all time, thanks to the infectious stream of hits, including Dancing Queen, SOS, Mamma Mia, Fernando, The Winner Takes It All, and Super Trouper – just to name a few. Their timeless music is enjoyed by all and has been adapted to theatre and film. ABBA managed to bridge the gap between Nordic folk culture and melody and the pop industry, which, in turn, helped open the door for a new generation of Nordic pop stars.