A*Teens Vs. Abba

ABBA was a major group in the 70's and 80's. Since then, there have been many acts that have tried to follow them, most recently the A*Teens.

ABBA was one of the greatest groups of the 70's and 80's. Their singles topped charts all over the world, beginning with their first hit, "Waterloo," which won them the Eurovision contest. Several more top ten (including several number ones) hits followed. After their breakup in 1982, several groups have gotten together as a tribute to them and their music. Today, there's a new one, the A*Teens, who are modernizing ABBA's classic sound. Already, these Swedish teenagers have achieved a degree of fame for their new, catchy version of ABBA's music.

ABBA was a group of four members: Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha, and Ani-Frid. All four of them were semi-popular Swedish singers even before they met each other. Both Benny and Bjorn were in other groups before they formed ABBA (their semi-famous one dissolved in 1969), and all of the members pursued solo careers both before and after ABBA. Not long after they met, they formed two couples: Benny and Ani-Frid, and Bjorn and Agnetha. The latter got married before the former, though both couples ultimately divorced. Bjorn and Agnetha had two children, both born in the 70's. Benny and Ani-Frid never had children, and were only married for a couple of years - they were together for nine years before marriage. The group split up not long after their divorces. In 2000, the group was offered around a billion dollars to do a reunion tour, which they refused.

Their first album was actually released well before their Eurovision contest win, and it was a failure. Their second album was released closer to the Eurovision contest win, and it was almost instantly a world favorite. Two of their early singles are "SOS" and "Ring Ring." This album, released around 1972, was originally titled "Bjorn and Benny, Agnetha and Ani-Frid," but this was too awkward. The group changed it to ABBA, and the name was soon all over the world.

ABBA had several top ten successes, including "I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do," "Summer Night City," "SOS," and "Mamma Mia," among others. Nine of these songs reached number one, a record topped only by The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and Cliff Richard. These hits topped charts in their native Sweden, Britain, the U.S., Australia, and other locations throughout Europe.

Today, it's "Mamma Mia" that has given the A*Teens their current fame. It was the first single they arranged and sang, the first song that awaited the world's approval or disapproval. Lucky for them, the world hailed their fresh, new sound and toe-tapping beats.

The A*Teens (meaning ABBA Teens) have four members: Amit Paul, John Dhani Lennevald, Marie Serneholt, and Sara Lumhold. They are Swedish, like ABBA. Also, they use the same general lyrics and tunes as ABBA did, but that is where the similarities end.

ABBA's style was classic and common when the songs were written. ABBA used a lot of bass (through the electric, upright string bass), along with xylophones, drums and tambourines to keep the beat. Their beats tend to be more complex and depend on the rhythm of the singing. They also use a lot of piano. Much of ABBA's music was produced through actual instruments, as well, rather than using synthesized ones. Both Agnetha and Ani-Frid have alto voices, and they are the lead singers. Most of their songs have them singing harmonizing parts in unison.

The A*Teens have an extremely different style, one that was heavily influenced by pop culture. Their beats are created by drum sets, using the "cymbal click." An example of this can be heard in music by Britney Spears. This beat soars above everything else, rather than blending in with the singing. It also tends to be a very simple, regular beat. The voices tend to enter into "finished" music, which is very common in today's music. There is no real melody that the voices are following - it is orchestrated through chord changes. To produce these chord changes, there is a "new age" sound underneath much of the A*Teens' music - a rolling synth(esized) sound. There are a lot of special effects, and many of the instruments are probably produced through a synthesizer. The A*Teens also make more use of the male voice, so there is more of a four-part harmony. However, they often have the girls singing in unison on the same part.

All of these things are very characteristic of pop music today. Because the technology exists, we use it. The A*Teens are a great group for the current generation, catering to their musical demands with familiar tunes and lyrics of the past. ABBA, however, will live on forever, in the hearts and minds of their traditional fans, the ones who will ignore the A*Teens and continue to listen to the old version, no matter how many radio stations pick up the new. The A*Teens are a group for today, while ABBA is a group for the ages.

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