Abba’s Agnetha Comes Out Of Retirement
By Mark Savage
Arts and entertainment reporter, BBC News
One of pop’s most enigmatic voices has emerged with her first album in nine years. Agnetha Faltskog’s new album sees her duet with Gary Barlow and collaborate with Britney Spears’ Swedish songwriting team. Just don’t call her “mysterious”.
Forty-five years ago, before Abba were even a twinkle in Eurovision’s eye, Agnetha Faltskog made her very first TV appearance.
Aged just 17, she performed Jag Var Sa Kar (I Was So In Love), a syrupy self-penned waltz, on Swedish TV show Studio 8.
The melancholy lyrics, inspired by her idol Connie Francis, were a stark contrast to the exuberant blonde singer, who “took the radio in my arms and danced around” when she first heard her single on the air.
Little did she know, misery would become her musical forte, especially when she teamed up with Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frida to form Abba.
The songs on which Faltskog took lead vocals – Hasta Manana, The Name Of The Game, Chiquitita – were the band’s biggest tear-jerkers.
On The Winner Takes It All, recorded as her marriage to Bjorn Ulvaeus fell apart, the emotion is almost too much to bear.
Faltskog is by turns defiant and broken. “I was in your arms, thinking I belonged there,” she cries, as her husband merely shakes her hand and turns away.
Oddly, the singer calls it “her biggest favourite” from the band’s back catalogue. “It’s a shame we never got to play it live,” she adds.
Since the band went their separate ways in 1982, the girl with golden hair has been the band’s most elusive member. She largely shuns the limelight, living quietly on the secluded island of Ekero, west of Stockholm.
Perhaps because of those world-weary lyrics, she was portrayed as a frail recluse – the Greta Garbo of pop.
The revelation in 2000 that she had entered a relationship with an obsessed Dutch fan, 16 years her junior, who turned dangerous when she broke off the affair, only added to the perception that she was lonely and unhappy.
Today, she cannot talk about the relationship for legal reasons, but Faltskog says the media have the wrong impression of her private life.
“I have been described as a very mysterious human being and that hurts a little bit, because it’s not like that at all,” she says.