Beyond Cher: Revisiting A*Teens' ABBA Covers Album From 1999


Before Cher's 'Dancing Queen' album, Sweden's A*Teens tried to place a contemporary spin on the classics

It’s been greater than 40 years since their debut, and the world remains to be going mad for ABBA. This summer season, the film sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again hit theaters and was each bit as campy and enjoyable as the unique — and got here with the addition of Cher, who performed the mom of Meryl Streep’s character regardless of the actors having solely a three-year age hole. (Just go together with it.) In flip, Cher’s temporary cameo impressed her to document a complete album of ABBA covers, the end result of which, Dancing Queen, is out now -- and getting a few of the greatest critiques of Cher’s post-2000 profession.

Of course, ABBA’s illustrious discography has impressed many years price of covers albums, from heavy-metal makeovers to alt-rock tributes, all of which show how sturdy the band’s tunes are. These are songs, in spite of everything, that also sound good even after they’re being murdered by hordes of drunk karaoke singers. But with regards to outfitting ‘70s classics with the bells and whistles of contemporary pop, Cher has an apparent precedent: A*Teens’ The ABBA Generation album.

Assembled in 1998, A*Teens have been, initially, an ABBA covers group made up of 4 Swedish youngsters: Marie Serneholt, Sara Lumholdt, Dhani Lennevald and Amit Sebastian Paul. Their debut album, The ABBA Generation was launched in 1999 overseas — it didn’t arrive within the U.S. till the next 12 months — and was a bid to introduce the band’s catalog to a cohort of children who not solely weren’t sufficiently old to recollect the Eurovision music contest of 1974, when ABBA took house the crown, but additionally most likely didn’t even assume they need to care.

While The ABBA Generation solely managed to hit No. 71 on the Billboard 200, the album finally bought over half 1,000,000 copies within the United States, in line with the RIAA. But in the event you haven’t dusted off your outdated CDs in, say, almost 20 years, listed below are the highs and lows of the document:

It turned ABBA songs into the club-bangers they deserved to be
The A*Teens’ fundamental method to ABBA’s discography was upping the tempo excessive. Regardless of whether or not the unique music was a ballad or a bop, nearly all of those variations are set to hyperspeed. Listening to A*Teens’s space-age tackle “Take A Chance On Me” evokes a child-like sugar excessive, with the power coursing via the observe barely contained inside the music's pounding beat and manic chanting. It’s a technique that Cher appears to have additionally often adopted for Dancing Queen, which is not any dangerous factor: Her model of “The Winner Takes It All” is proof that the music ought to all the time have been a synth-pop stomper.

But it nonetheless revered the supply materials
There aren’t too many similarities between A*Teens’s The ABBA Generation and Cher’s Dancing Queen, however they each at instances acknowledge that ABBA’s authentic materials doesn’t all the time want updating — particularly, of their renditions of “The Name Of The Game.” Cher’s model is pure ‘70s throwback and will simply slot into her personal discography from that interval. A*Teens’s model, alternatively, has the compulsory trappings of turn-of-the-millennium pop however retains the purity on the coronary heart of ABBA’s 1977 authentic. Instead of slapping a club-ready beat on it, the music is extra akin to a Britney Spears ballad -- assume “Born To Make You Happy,” not “Work Bitch” -- and is all the higher for it.

It might make followers out of Clean Bandit
While fellow Swedes Ace of Base liked a reggae-tinged syncopated beat, these days it’s electro-classical disruptors Clean Bandit who're a few of the most dependable suppliers of dancehall rhythms on pop radio. Listen to A*Teens’ cowl of “One Of Us,” and also you is likely to be stunned at how uncannily comparable it's to Clean Bandit’s personal “Rockabye,” which, because of the assistance of Anne-Marie and Sean Paul, graced the highest 10 on the Hot 100. The cowl is one reminder that, whereas the majority of the document appears like an unsung relic of TRL-era pop, some components of The ABBA Generation hinted on the future.

Still, it principally didn’t age properly
For each ahead-of-its-time second like “One of Us,” there are a number of extra moments that sound so dreadfully dated it’s a surprise if it was palatable again then — even ABBA’s authentic model of “Our Last Summer” from 1980 sounds brisker than the one A*Teens put out. But not every little thing is constructed to final, and simply because The ABBA Generation isn’t for consumption in 2018 doesn’t imply it’s with out worth or significance within the historical past of pop music.

It’s a reminder of a time of pop innocence
Before Christina rocked her “Dirrty” chaps and Britney not-so-subtly wielded a snake four u, the pop of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s was pretty innocuous. While that squeaky-clean model of music was sneered upon on the time, dismissed as vapid and manufactured, revisiting The ABBA Generation now presents a reminder of simply how a lot enjoyable that sanitized, edgeless and unapologetically uncool spectacle in pop music may very well be. Does it matter that the dance routines have been a bit off and almost each efficiency was lip-synced? Nope, as a result of that wasn’t the purpose; this was carefree, generation-spanning household leisure at its most colourful. Whether that was because of the high quality of ABBA’s songs or the charisma of the A*Teens themselves, although remains to be debatable.

It might properly have been the precursor to Kidz Bop
Even now within the period of streaming, as document gross sales each bodily and digital have declined, Kidz Bop albums nonetheless promote by the bucket load. It’s most likely not unfair to attribute the rise of neutered covers of pop hits to a gaggle like A*Teens, whose thought of mature content material again in 1999 was a canopy of ABBA’s divorce anthem “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” relegated to the bonus observe part of the album’s Japanese version. The case for if that’s a superb factor or not, nonetheless, relies upon solely on whether or not you’re busy doing the college run.

It embodied different ‘90s pop tendencies
Can you think about if, as a substitute of beavering away on Ray of Light with Madonna, William Orbit had gone and produced an ABBA covers album? You don’t actually should: The staff behind The ABBA Generation channel Orbit’s watery manufacturing and psychedelic guitar wah-wahs for A*Teens’s model of “Dancing Queen” and it's, placing it bluntly, completely wild. This unusual sonic tour is Frankensteined along with Max Martin-esque drum beats and Auto-Tuned vocals, leading to what is probably probably the most bonkers pop music artifact from the early millennium. Go forward and put in a time capsule or ship into area so we will remind ourselves what the interval in historical past seemed like when the world lastly involves an finish.