Featured Music

Copenhagen Shooting Urges Harry Styles to Cancel Concert

Another attack on Nordic Europe!

Following a mass shooting in Copenhagen and Denmark, Harry Styles decides to cancel his gig out of respect for the three people who lost their lives, as well as the multiple casualties. The attack happened at Field’s Mall on the outskirts of the capital, less than a mile from the venue where Styles was due to perform.

The distance from the Mall to the Royal Arena (Image from BBC)

The shopping centre is one of the busiest in Northern Europe and has thousands of daily visitors. It boasts 140 shops and restaurants and sits just next to the subway line that connects the mall to the city, which quickly became an escape route for those attempting to flee. An eyewitness, Isabelle, told the Danish media, “Suddenly we hear shots. I think I hear ten shots and then we run through the mall and end up in a toilet, where we huddle together in this tiny toilet, where we are around 11 people.” She continued, “It’s really hot and we wait and we are really scared. It’s been a terrible experience.”

The Royal Arena where Harry Styles was set to perform (from Wikipedia)

The attack comes as a huge shock to Denmark and Europe, as the country has some of the strictest gun laws on the continent. Licenses to own guns are only permitted for hunting or sports purposes. It came as a shock, then, when an a gunman, who is believed to have mental health issues, opened fire at innocent civilians. The Prime Minister quickly commented on the attack to the devastated public, saying, “our beautiful and usually so safe capital was changed in a split second.” Mette Frederiksen then urged Danes to come together to show support to families of those caught up in the horrors.

Just minutes away, Harry Styles fans were already congregating at the nearby Royal Arena, waiting for the gig that very evening. Many of Harry’s fans were young children and teens who were alone and waiting for the show. After the news broke, worried parents frantically rushed to check up on their children. One concerned father, Hans Christian Stolz recalled, “My daughters were supposed to go see Harry Styles,” he said, to AFD. “They called me to say someone was shooting. They were in a restaurant when it happened.” Hans’ daughter Cassandra, remembered the fear, “We thought at first people were running because they had seen Harry Styles, then we understood that it was people in panic. We ran for our lives.”

The Copenhagen Mall from WION

Upon hearing the news, a distraught Harry Styles decided to prioritise the safety of fans and cancel the show. He took to Snapchat to break the news, “My team and I pray for everyone involved in the Copenhagen shopping mall shooting. I am shocked. Love H.” Live Nation, the organisers of the show also released a statement expressing how the decision was made in accordance with the Danish police, “We are all truly devastated by the events of today and our thoughts are with the victims and their families.” To those disappointed by the news, they said, “We are looking into future possibilities for the show and hope to be able to give ticket buyers direct information as soon as possible.”

This is the first major terror incident since 2015, in which two people were killed and six police officers were injured. Only a few weeks ago in Oslo, a gunman opened fire at Pride, killing two. The attack brought haunting reminders of Behring Brevik’s far-right attacks that killed 77 people in 2011. Communities and governments in the Nordic countries are on alert, hoping that these attacks haven’t triggered more.

Featured Music

Adele: Some Viral Moments from the Singer’s Hyde Park Gigs

Adele is back, and sounding stronger than ever!

This week, all eyes were once again on Adele as the 34-year-old singer returned to her native London to perform two sold-out shows at British Summertime in Hyde Park. The concerts were Adele’s first live public shows in almost 5 years and drew tens of thousands of fans from all over the world. Despite being out of the spotlight since the release of her 4th studio album (30), last November, the two shows inevitably generated attention on social media. Here are some of the viral moments.

Adele’s Ex and Current Partner attended

Simon and Paul at the gig (from Page Six)

“Divorce babes. Divorce,” said Adele on a live stream with fans when asked about the themes of the new album, 30. In the marketing campaign that followed, Adele shared personal news of her failed marriage with Simon Konecki, who also happens to be the father of their son, Angelo. Despite making their personal history public, it appears the two are on good terms as Konecki was spotted in the crowd alongside no other than Adele’s partner Rich Paul. Although a little unexpected, it’s great to see the two coming together in support of the wonderful woman that is Adele.

Adele Addresses the Infamous Cancelled Las Vegas Residency

Earlier this year, Adele made the headlines for all the wrong reasons after cancelling the Weekends With Adele Las Vegas residency a day before the live shows were due to commence. “We’ve tried absolutely everything we can to put it together in time and for it to be good enough for you, but we’ve been absolutely destroyed by delivery delays and COVID,” she explained this January. Despite reiterating her decision multiple times, the news remained controversial as thousands of fans were left stranded just hours before the show was due to take place. Since January, there has been little news regarding the Vegas residency, until this weekend at the British Summer Time Hyde Park gigs. “I had my shows that I was supposed to be doing but they didn’t happen,” she told the crowd. “But we’re announcing them very, very soon. I’m just waiting on one piece of equipment.” Hopefully, things will go more smoothly this time.

Adele gave two fans tickets in exchange for a Pride flag

Adele with the Pride Flag (from Getty Images and BBC)

“Happy Pride. I wore my hair out today to try and be a bit draggy,” said Adele, the screaming fans in the audience. Amongst the crowd were Dean and Jack, who managed to blag their way into the gig after Adele’s team exchanged their eight-pound pride flag for two tickets. “We were stunned. This was a dream,” said the two friends. Dean, a primary school teacher elaborated on Twitter, “Then, after two songs the MOST BIZARRE moment of my life happened. @Adele, in front of 65,000 people asks where Jack and Dean are and calls us over to the barrier! I, of course, have no footage of this as I was losing my mind!!!”

Featured Music

Arca: The Revolutionary Trans Artist Documenting Her Transition Through Music

Once a behind-the-scenes producer, Arca is ready to put a face to her wild work

Arca is behind some of the most revolutionary music releases in the modern era, working with artists such as Kanye West, Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Rosalia, Sia, FKA Twigs and more. Now based in Barcelona, Arca is a multitalented artist, who is also a composer, rapper, DJ, and producer. Her sound is often described as a “chaotic” blend of electronic, hip-hop, avant-pop and reggaeton, which meant that Arca’s audience was limited, but nevertheless, loyal. Nowadays, Arca produces mostly for herself, stepping away from the overwhelming mishmash of genres, for a more accessible sound.

Arca Press Image
Arca from Numero Twic

Arca was born in Caracas, Venezuela, as Alejandro Ghersi. In 2018, Arca emerged as non-binary but later realised that she identifies as a trans woman. In an interview with Vice Magazine in 2020, Arca reflected on her journey of self-discovery, “I see my gender identity as non-binary, and I identify as a trans-Latina woman, and yet, I don’t want to encourage anyone to think that my gayness has been banished. And when I talk about gayness, it’s funny because I’m not thinking about who I’m attracted to. It’s a form of cultural production that is individual and collective, which I don’t ever want to renounce.” In the past couple of years, Arca has infused her transition into her art.

The Kick series is a collection of 5 studio albums, all released between 2020 and 2021. The title of the quintet relates to a baby’s kick whilst in the womb of its mother. In an interview with ID Magazine, Arca goes into detail, “The first image that comes to mind when I think of the word ‘kick’ is a prenatal kick; that instance of individuation, that unmistakable moment where parents realise their baby is not under their control but has its own will to live, its own impulses that are erratic and unpredictable, separate to their own. I think later we have a hard time distancing ourselves from authority and disagreeing with the top-down system that we perpetuate. So this is celebrating the moment of disagreement that is an expression of feeling alive. The baby doesn’t think about kicking, it kicks because it’s a vital impulse: there’s no malice in it.” The concept of the album clearly reflects Arca’s transition and the birth of a new life and identity.

The Kick series was a great success in that it presented Arca with a new audience. Before Kick, Arca’s music had very few vocals, and tracks had a very unusual structure. These qualities often meant that the music was unable to find a home. But with Kick, the songs resemble more traditional song structures and consist of pop, hip-hop and reggaeton melodies: translating into some healthy streaming statistics.

Now that the Kick series is over, Arca has returned to producing for other artists who fall in a similar sub-genre. This week, English rapper ShyGirl released her new single, Come For Me, produced by none other than Arca herself. Arca’s in demand and her unique production qualities have meant that over the years, she has undoubtedly helped shape the musical scene, especially in relation to the popularisation of experimental, industrial and hyper pop.

Arca Press Image
Arca from New York Times

Recently, Arca has made her transition, the focus of her music and artform. In doing so, Arca has successfully bridged the gap between a behind-the-scenes producer, and a front and centre artist. Despite this intentional journey, it is clear that Arca is more concerned about producing quality, boundary-pushing art, rather than becoming mainstream. In an interview with VOS, she states, “I want to be seen as an ecosystem of minor self-states without being stripped of the dignity of being a whole. It gives me the feeling of possibility, to not allow for easy categorization. I wouldn’t want to just go pop, and I wouldn’t want to go full experimentalist.”

The goal for Arca is to create a separate but detached utopia that she can fit into, but others can also relate to. And in order to achieve this, gender norms and boundaries must be deconstructed. “That’s where a nonbinary mode of thinking feels really fertile. It opens possibilities rather than collapsing things. Allowing for change without resisting it.” Arca isn’t interested in creating pop. She wants to create a whole new universe.

Featured Music

Will Scissor Sisters Reunite for their 10 Year Anniversary?

Once mocked, their material has aged like fine wine

Formed in 2001, the Scissor Sisters are an American pop/glam-rock band that came from the “gay nightlife scene of New York.” Fronted by Jake Shears and Ana Matronic, the band released four pioneering studio albums from 2004 to 2012, which are still blasted in queer clubs around the globe. With the 10-year anniversary of their hiatus fast approaching, rumours are circulating that the camp foursome could reunite for new music and a tour.

The Scissor Sisters
Jake Shears from NME

In a recent interview with NME, the vocalist of the band, Jake Shears, addressed the rumours, “I really want to make another Scissors record,” he said. “I don’t know when that’s gonna be.” Their last record, Happy Hour, came out in 2012 and enjoyed huge success with chart-topping singles and even a world tour. The lead single, Only the Horses, produced by DJ Calvin Harris, pushed Scissor Sisters into a more Dance-pop genre – which was very much on-trend at the time. The album broke away from the typical Scissor Sisters gritty sound for a cleaner, more electronic approach. This transition caused a lot of speculation amongst fans about what a new Scissor Sisters release would sound like.

Since the hiatus, Shears has been working on his solo career, which is very much in line with the traditional Scissor Sisters sound. “I feel like I’m making the music that I would be making if Scissor Sisters were still together,” said Shears, to NME. However, he made it clear that a reunion had to be a full reunion, meaning that other band mates, Ana Matronic, Babydaddy, Del Marquis and Randy Real, need to be onboard. “I think everybody would need to want to do it,” he continued. “I don’t wanna twist anybody’s arm – that would be no fun.”

We are now approaching mid-2022, and we have very few signs that Scissor Sisters are in the studio. In another interview, this time with Gay Times Magazine, Jake Shears, surprisingly announced that the reason for the band’s break-up is due to the song, Let’s Have a Kiki. Shears reflected, “I didn’t know what the fuck to say after that song, quite honestly. When that song came out and did what it did, I was just like, ‘Well, there it is, I guess we did it.’ I truly had no idea what to follow that up with.” It is unusual for a song – so late in an artist’s career – to become one of their most popular tracks, but for Scissor Sisters, they finished on a high. “So I thought, we’ve been recording and touring for 10 years, and I felt like it was time. This wasn’t what anybody in the band had planned to do. So I thought it would be fun to end on a high note.”

The Scissor Sisters
Jake Shears from the Independent

For the best part of the decade, the Scissor Sisters were one of the few bands feeding the queer community sexy but camp content. Throughout the years, the music, and the accompanying visuals have had a massive impact on queer culture, and their many hits are entrenched on dance-floor playlists. And, although Jake Shears is hesitant, he can’t deny the temptation, “But you know what? That’s not to say we’re never going to do anything again. The Scissor Sisters will be back.”

Featured Music

UK’s Forgotten Pop Divas of the Noughties

5 pop throwbacks for your playlist

In the 2000s there were a huge number of pop acts that had global potential. But as careers soared, some artists struggled to keep up with the momentum and their opportunities passed.

Unbelievably, the noughties kicked off over 20 years ago. Pop dominated the decade, producing some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. In the UK, we had our own pop renaissance, producing equally as big names, such as Amy Winehouse, Adele, Lily Allen, Leona Lewis and Jessie J, to name a few.

When digging into this decade of divas, there is a treasure trove of lost pop acts who once had the potential to conquer America and the international music scene, who instead fell to the waste side.

  1. Booty Luv

Pop duo booty luv
Booty Luv from Mighty Hoopla

Probably the most obscure entry on the list, you may be surprised to know that London-based Booty Luv had a string of radio hits in 2007. The duo, Cherise Roberts and Nadia Shepard were not new to the spotlight, as they were once in the hip hop and R&B group, Big Brovaz. In just a few short years, Booty Luv scaled charts around Europe with their disco-inspired hits, Shine and Boogie 2nite. Even though their tracks didn’t make it to number one, Booty Luv was generating a big buzz on the dance floors, and so, began eyeing up top producers for their follow-up album, which sadly never came into fruition.

In 2009, the group agreed on a hiatus to concentrate on solo projects, which also didn’t work out. For a couple of years, Booty Luv was building momentum but was caught out by a fickle industry. Frustratingly, like the case for many other artists, if you take a break too early, the world moves on.

  1. Little Boots

Little Boots
Little Boots from Dork

Little Boots exploded onto the UK scene after receiving strong parallels to Lady Gaga, who also surfaced around the same time. Like Gaga, Boots was creative, blonde, short and, most importantly, pop! While Gaga was slaying in the US with Just Dance and Poker Face, Little Boots released Remedy, which scaled the charts in the UK – it also happened to be produced by Gaga’s own producer, Red One.

Even though Remedy struck the right chord with synth fans in the UK and Europe, the track and the album, Hands, were hounded by critics. In a review from the Guardian, journalist Alexis Petridis slated the track, saying it “takes her love of continental pop’s shameless melodicism to a saccharine extreme and winds up sounding less like a cool Giorgio Moroder-inspired Italo disco track than something a former Soviet Republic might submit to Eurovision” – ouch.

Despite having a mixed reception, Little Boots managed to sustain a career in music, writing and producing songs for other artists, including the Shapeshifters, Hot Chip and UK Drag Race’s, Tia Kofi. However, the Remedy wasn’t strong enough to save her ‘main pop girl’ career.

  1. Noisettes

Pop band the Noisettes
Noisettes from NME

Noisettes is made up of singer and bassist Shingai Shoniwa and guitarist Dan Smith. The indie-rock band, formed in London, achieved huge commercial success following the release of their second single, from the second album titled Don’t Upset the Rhythm (Go Baby Go) – which just missed out on the top spot of the Official UK Singles Chart in 2009. The track’s catchy chorus meant that is featured in the marketing campaigns of big international companies, propelling the song to success. Unfortunately, as the media machine wore off, so did the success. As Noisettes were unable to produce indie pop with the same punch, the band stopped releasing music. Thankfully, fans have three great albums to tire them over until a rumoured comeback.

  1. Duffy

Duffy at the Brits from Marie Claire

In 2008, the incredibly talented Duffy from Wales released her debut album, Rockferry. It was a defining album of the late noughties and propelled Duffy to international fame. Rockferry immediately became the best-selling album in the UK in 2008, and even landed Duffy a nod for Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammys. Considering this was before Adele exploded in the US, Duffy had the potential to fill the Brit gap in the market, and go all the way. But suddenly, she disappeared, never to release music again. So, what happened?

In 2020, Duffy resurfaced on social media to tell fans and the world of a horrific event that saw her retreat from music and the spotlight. In the post, she detailed how she had been “raped and drugged and held hostage over some days.” The singer then mentioned how this ordeal meant that she needed time to heal, only to return when the time feels right. She continued. “I believe that if you speak from the heart within you, the heart within others will answer. As dark as my story is, I do speak from my heart, for my life, and for the life of others, who have suffered the same.” Let’s hope Duffy finds the courage to return to her passions. We wish her all the best.

  1. Natasha Bedingfield

Natasha Bedingfield
Natasha Bedingfield from Hidden Jams

Natasha Bedingfield was one of the ‘it girls’ of 2004. Just check out some stats from her debut album, Unwritten: Grammy Nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance; 2005 and 2006 nomination for Best Female at the Brits; one million copies sold in the UK; certified Gold in the US, as well as being certified three times platinum. Not a bad achievement considering it was her first album.

As Natasha’s fame increased, she inevitably spent most of her time in the US, which would eventually become her downfall. After crossing the pond, UK support dwindled, arguably because the record label didn’t give the public enough time to embrace her as an artist. When Natasha started struggling in the packed US market, there was not a big enough base in the UK to maintain the hype.

Despite being out of the spotlight, Natasha has still been able to spend the last decade working in music and the entertainment industry – even landing a song credit with Nicki Minaj. Proof that even a few hits are enough to keep you ticking along.

Featured Music

Tom Aspaul: The Black Country Popstar Back With a New Banger

Has Tom Aspaul managed to top his debut album?

Tom Aspaul has been thriving on the fringes of pop for some time now. The British singer songwriter proudly hails from Wolverhampton and is behind some huge hits from the likes of Celeste, AlunaGeorge, Snakeships, Little Mix and Kylie Minogue. Now, he is back with his second studio album, Life in Plastic – a personal project with an upbeat aesthetic.

Tom Aspaul
Tom Aspaul from Gay Times

Life in Plastic was written mostly in lockdown, which is likely responsible for the deeper lyricism that flows in each and every track. In an interview with Pink News, Tom recalls the creative process, “It is a cliché, but a lot of gay men, if they don’t have children, they seem to have a lot of time to look after themselves and have these really lavish lifestyles, and that’s a topic that interests me. I wanted to explore why that happens, which I guess is where the Life in Plastic name comes from.” Tom has a big and loyal following in the London queer scene, where he once lived.

It is no secret that Tom is a grounded individual, who values his roots. “I present myself to the world as this pop star, but the reality is that I do live at home with my parents and I do everything myself, even though it doesn’t look like I do,” he says to Pink News. This humble and down to earth personality pours into his music, adding a sense of relatability for queer kids who often find that they need to leave the safety blanket of home for the big city lights.

For a while, Tom lived in London, but following a breakup, he returned to his hometown in the West Midlands. “I live away from London and all these big cities, so I don’t really have a community where I live. I don’t have any friends that live nearby so I really do depend on these long-distance relationships — I travel to London or Manchester or Birmingham every other weekend,” he said.

Tom’s first album, Black Country Disco was a huge success, which is named after the industrial region of the Midlands. The Black Country is a peculiar place, which often feels like it stands still in time. On weekends, the majority of locals flock to their nearest social clubs or pubs, to enjoy a dance and a disco —reminiscing a lost era of music. In an interview with the Guardian, Tom recalls his inspiration for the debut album, “Sonically, I listened to a whole raft of disco from the mid-70s to the mid-80s; music I’d imagine my mom dancing to at the Lafayette Club in Wolverhampton when she was young.”

Tom Aspaul Press Shot
Tom Aspaul from Retro Pop Magazine

Tom has decided to pursue his career in reverse. When many artists catch a break and increase in popularity, they tend to crave London, LA or New York. But, for Tom, the appeal isn’t all there. Tom prefers to position himself where he feels comfortable and where he can absorb inspiration from what’s meaningful to him: his roots. For this reason alone, he has managed to create another great pop record, with a heart.

Featured LGBTQ Music

Mighty Hoopla: The Cheesy Pop Fest Becoming an LGBTQ+ Mecca

2022’s Mighty Hoopla Festival embraced the cheese and cemented itself as London’s go-to LGBTQ+ festival.

Every June, the queer kids of London dust off their most fabulous and outrageous outfits and head down to the gates of Brockwell Park. United with friends and allies, the goal is to be free, dance along to the trashiest of pop and slay whilst doing it.

Mighty Hoopla 2022
Mighty Hoopla from the Independent

This year, the South London venue attracted some pretty big headliners, including, Steps, Sugababes, Anastasia, Jessie Ware, Foxes and Big Freedia. Now, some of you may snub your nose at such a line-up, but for these festival-goers, the camper the pop, the better!

That’s because Mighty Hoopla isn’t an ego-driven festival; it doesn’t need to have an 8.0+ score on Pitchfork or a pretentious line-up. For these huns, having a cheeky sing and dance to Super Star by Jamelia whilst clutching a gin and tonic is by far the most important thing. If you’re looking for quality, head to Glastonbury, if you want a bit of fun, then get your tickets to 2023’s Hoopla – which is already selling like hot cakes.

A particular highlight of this year’s festival was undoubtedly the headliners, the Sugababes. The band, which has notoriously had many members since forming in 1998, now consists of the OG’s, Mutya, Keisha and Siobhan. This trio are responsible for the band’s golden years, which churned out hits such as Round Round, Too Lost in You and Hole in the Head. The loudest screams were down to the opening track of the setlist, Push the Button, which is one of the band’s many queer classics.

Mighty Hoopla headliners the Sugababes
Sugababes by TimeOut

Considering the Sugababes split up many years ago, Mighty Hoopla is a huge crowd, attracting as many as 50,000 people over the two-day weekend. Who knows, maybe the festival can be the launchpad for reviving dwindling careers? In a recent interview with Zoe Ball on the BBC Radio 2’s breakfast show, the band referenced the rumours, “There’s nothing concrete at the moment, but we are working on stuff all the time and definitely new music. We love making music together and that’s something we’re going to continue to do. And, hopefully, it won’t be too long now, now that we can be in the studio together again.”

Mighty Hoopla crowd member
Attendee of Mighty Hoopla from Gay London Life

For many artists performing at Hoopla, the music industry is now a different beast compared to back in the heyday. In the noughties and early 2000s, artists who showed promise would often get big breaks through the likes of MTV, performing on TV shows and getting spins on radios. Nowadays, the success formula is different and in the form of TikTok and Instagram algorithms. But, for now, the pop heroes and one-hit-wonders can carve themselves a niche in the reliable LGBTQ+ market. Mighty Hoopla is one of the last spaces reminiscent of the lost pop era, and for that reason, it must continue to thrive.

Featured Music

Running Up That Hill: Kate Bush Reaches Global Spotify Number 1

Strange Things are happening

Thanks to TikTok and the Netflix smash hit horror series Stranger Things, Kate Bush’s Running Up the Hill is currently the most played song on the planet. But, as Gen Z are starting to jump on the Kate Bush bandwagon, many original fans are seizing the opportunity to bring more of her material a new lease of life.

Kate Bush Running Up That Hill
Kate Bush from American Songwriter

Running Up the Hill was written by Kate as the first single for the album, Hounds of Love. The track, which was released over 38 years ago, touches upon the emotional differences between men and women and how a “deal with god,” would allow a swapping of places and thus, a greater understanding of one another. Kate’s adventurous and far-fetched use of lyrics has always been one of her strong points. This quirkiness meant that her music was a perfect fit for the outlandish series Stranger Things, in which, the entirety of the track was used for one of its main scenes.

Astonishingly, Kate, who is notoriously shy, made a rare public announcement, “You might’ve heard that the first part of the fantastic, gripping new series of  Stranger Things has recently been released on Netflix. It features the song, Running Up That Hill,  which is being given a whole new lease of life by the young fans who love the show – I love it too! Because of this, Running Up That Hill is charting around the world and has entered the UK chart at No. 8. It’s all really exciting! Thanks very much to everyone who has supported the song. I wait with bated breath for the rest of the series in July.”

The statement shocked fans of Stranger Things and new fans of Kate Bush – mainly because they (kind of hilariously) thought she was dead. One Twitter user shared, “I wish Kate Bush was alive to see all the love and praise she is getting…so tragic we only appreciate artists when they are gone.”

Now, Running Up the Hill is topping the charts in most countries around the world, beating the likes of Harry Styles, Bad Bunny and Camilla Cabello. Let’s hope that Kate’s other material gets through to her new audience of young fans. Could another tour or album be on the horizon?

Whatever your opinion on Tik Tok, it has an incredible ability to shine a light on smaller artists and quality music that never had its time in the spotlight. Although Kate Bush’s music – mostly in the UK – has a legendary status, its reach across the pond hadn’t really taken off. Running Up the Hill is a masterpiece of pop and lyricism and it very much deserves its 5 minutes of fame.

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

M.I.A on New Single, Album and Christianity

Supposedly retired M.I.A is back and has lots more to say

It has already been 6 years since M.I.A released her politically charged album, AIM, which tackled head-on some of the most pressing topics of the time, including: Islamophobia, the plight of the Syrian people, immigration and even terrorism. But now, M.I.A has retuned her sharp, analytical mind into a deeper and more spiritual frequency, with new single “The One” – produced by Rex Kudo and T- Minus.

M.I.A from NPR

“Tryna find the one, what you’re seekin’ ain’t hidin.’ Tryna find the one, it’s me you keep findin,’ raps M.I.A, soul searching. From the first single, it’s clear that M.I.A wants to take a different approach with her forthcoming album MATA, which is due out later in the year. In an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music, M.I.A confessed that she “was in a very happy place” upon writing the new single, which is evident in the reflective lyrics.

MATA is shaping up to be one of M.I.A’s most risky albums to date as it flirts with sensitive themes that aren’t familiar in popular culture. “I think there’s a bit of a battle on the record,” she says to Zane Lowe. She continues, “there is a bit of a clash, but the clash is your ego and spirituality. Those are the clashes because, as a musician, you need some ego otherwise you can’t do it. Also, the genre of music that—genres I should say—is all very much like egocentric. It’s not like I’m an artist that came from gospel or something. For me, it was to have that journey and also it was a significant time to discuss like Islamophobia, talking about wars in the Middle East and things like that.”

Born, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam MBE, M.I.A is one of Britain’s most influential and iconic rappers. M.I.A (Missing In Action), uses her music as a way to comment on themes concerning immigration, globalisation, religion and warfare – mostly in the context of the Arab world and Middle East. M.I.A’s foundation in activism has meant that she has become a role model for many who are struggling with the symptoms of discrimination based on ones heritage, ethnicity and religion.

M.I.A Vogue India

In M.I.A’s previous work, her Tamil-Sri Lankan and Hindu born parents have been sources of inspiration and pride. A surprise, then, that M.I.A has announced that she has converted to Christianity and is now an out and proud born again Christian. “I had a weird spiritual experience. One of the first people I told was Richard Russell actually. And it was back in 2017. Since then, my head has been in a totally different place,” she said. “It turned my world upside down. I kind of couldn’t let go of the Tamil side. I think that’s why 50% of the record is sort of like that.”

Since 2005, M.I.A has been Britain’s reliable rapper, keeping society on their toes with thought-provoking music. Over the course of her discography, M.I.A has worked through the horrific symptoms of globalisation and late-stage capitalism, and she has made an undeniable impact on popular culture. “The history is, even if it costs me my career, I won’t lie. I will tell the truth and I will tell you what’s on my mind and my heart,” she said, referencing the narratives of the new album. But it seems M.I.A has exhausted her commentary of the on the surface issues, it’s time to address the root causes and, for this, M.I.A is going inward.