Agnetha Fältskog


Agnetha Fältskog

Infobox Musical artist
Name = Agnetha Fältskog


Img_capt = Agnetha Fältskog at a concert in Oslo in 1977
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Agnetha Åse Fältskog
Born = birth date and age|1950|4|5
Origin = Jönköping, Sweden
Occupation = Singer, Composer, Record producer
Genre = Easy Listening, Pop Music
Years_active = 1967 - 1988, 2004 - 2005
Label = Cupol
CBS Records
Polar Music
Warner Music Group
Instrument = Vocals, Piano
Associated_acts = ABBA
URL = http://www.agnetha.net

Agnetha Åse Fältskog (pronounced|aŋne:ta o:sɛ fɛltsku:g) (born Agneta Åse Fältskog birth date|1950|4|5|df=yes) is a Swedish pop singer-songwriter and record producer, most notable for being a member of the popular Swedish pop group ABBA.

Biography

Agnetha Fältskog was born in Jönköping, Småland, Sweden. She was the first of two daughters of department store manager Knut Ingvar Fältskog (1922–1995) and his wife Birgit Margareta Johansson (1923–1994). Her younger sister is Mona Fältskog Ericsson (born 1955), who is a nurse in Stockholm. Ingvar Fältskog showed much interest in music and show business, whereas Birgit Fältskog was a very calm and careful woman who devoted herself to her children and household. Agnetha often said that female singers such as Connie Francis, Marianne Faithfull, Aretha Franklin and Lesley Gore were among her strongest influences.

In 1958, at the age of eight, Fältskog started taking piano lessons, which continued until 1964, when she was 14. She also sang in the church choir.

In the early 1960s, Fältskog formed a trio, The Cambers, with two female friends. The trio performed in unimportant venues and soon dissolved because of a lack of engagements.

In 1966, at the age of 16, when she was working as a switchboard operator in a car dealership, Fältskog started performing with Bernt Enghardt's Orchestra, which toured on weekends, since all the members had day jobs. Eventually Fältskog had to quit her job, however, because of overwork. The following year, in 1967, the band sent a demo tape to the record label Cupol. At Cupol, they were more interested in Agnetha than the orchestra, and she thus got her first solo recording contract. In late 1967, she recorded her first two singles. In 1968, she released her first album. Also in 1968 she submitted the song "Försonade" to Melodifestivalen, the Swedish heats of the Eurovision Song Contest. However it was not selected for the final.

In 1969, Fältskog released the single "Zigenarvän" about a young girl attending a gypsy wedding and falling in love with the bride's brother. Its release coincided with a heated debate about gypsies in the Swedish media, and Agnetha was accused of deliberately trying to make money out of the situation by writing the song.

In 1970, Fältskog released "Om tårar var guld," which was perhaps her most successful song in Sweden before the ABBA period in spite of a claim from a Danish composer postulating that Agnetha has used 22 bars from his composition "Tema," even though this was written in the 1950s and had never been recorded. The case dragged on until 1977, when a settlement was reached and Agnetha paid the Dane SEK 5,000.

First marriage

On Death date and age|1971|7|6|1950|4|5|df=yes, Fältskog married Björn Ulvaeus; the marriage resulted in two children, Linda Elin Ulvaeus (born 23 February 1973) and Peter Christian Ulvaeus (born 4 December 1977).

The couple decided to separate in late 1978, and Fältskog moved out of their home on Christmas night, 25 December 1978. In January 1979, the couple filed for divorce, which was finalised in June 1980. Both Fältskog and Ulvaeus agreed not to let their failed marriage interfere with their responsibilities with ABBA.

ABBA

In 1971, Fältskog recorded the song "Dröm är dröm, och saga saga." Björn, Frida, and Benny all contributed with backing vocals. This song demanded a lot from the singer's breathing technique and made Fältskog decide to take singing lessons.

In 1972, Fältskog starred as Mary Magdalene in the original Swedish production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, providing vocals for its original Swedish cast recording. Her relationship with Björn Ulvaeus, as well as her friendship with Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Benny Andersson, eventually led into the formation of ABBA. In 1975, during the same period as her bandmate Anni-Frid Lyngstad recorded her Swedish number one album "Frida ensam", Fältskog recorded and produced her solo album "Elva kvinnor i ett hus". These albums were both recorded between sessions and promotion for the ABBA albums "Waterloo" and "ABBA". Even though ABBA was already a number one act in Sweden by 1975, Fältskog's album failed to reach the Top 10 on the Swedish album charts, peaking at #11. "Elva Kvinnor I Ett Hus" did, however, spend a staggering 53 weeks on the chart, even longer than any of the ABBA albums, and it also contained three further Svensktoppen entries for Fältskog: her Swedish language version of ABBA's "SOS" (also #4 on the single sales chart); "Tack För En Underbar Vanlig Dag"; and "Doktorn!". Except for the version of "SOS," all the songs had lyrics by Bosse Carlgren and music by Fältskog herself. The album had been underway since 1972, when Agnetha started writing the songs, but it got delayed because of the work with ABBA and her pregnancy. In 1974, she and Carlgren agreed on a concept for the album; it should consist of 12 songs, sung by 12 different women living in the same apartment building, each having a distinct name, identity, etc. In the end, only 11 songs were put onto the album, and the concept was never fully developed.

Between the years 1968 and 1980, Fältskog had a total of 18 entries on the important Svensktoppen radio chart, starting with debut single "Jag Var Så Kär" in January 1968 (peak position #1) and ending with "När Du Tar Mig I Din Famn" from compilation "Tio år med Agnetha" twelve years later, in January of 1980 (peak position #1). The 18 entries, most of which were composed or co-written by Fältskog herself, spent a total of 139 weeks on the chart during this time, with the biggest hit being 1970's "Om Tårar Vore Guld" (#1, 15 weeks).

Fältskog also recorded the Swedish Christmas album "Nu tändas tusen juleljus" with daughter Linda Ulvaeus which reached #6 on the Swedish album sales chart in December of 1981. Chartwise Fältskog was therefore by far the most successful solo artist of the four ABBA members, both before and during the band's international career. [ [http://svensktoppen.nu/artist.php?id=143 Svensktoppen.nu, detailed chart info] ]

Fältskog is also the only member of ABBA to have participated in Melodifestivalen again after having won Eurovision with "Waterloo" in 1974 - albeit only as a composer. In 1981 she wrote the ballad "Men Natten Är Vår" ("But The Night is Ours") with lyrics by Ingela Forsman but instead of performing the song in the contest herself she chose fairly unknown singer Kicki Moberg. The single, which Fältskog produced in the Polar Studios with the same musicians as on contemporary ABBA recordings, was backed with the Swedish version of "I'm Still Alive", entitled "Här Är Mitt Liv" ("Here is My Life"), a song which she herself had sung on ABBA's 1979 world tour. Moberg's recording of the song remains the only version to have been officially released to date. [ [Carl Magnus Palm: "Bright Lights - Dark Shadows", Omnibus Press UK 2001, ISBN 0.7119.8389.5] ]

olo career after ABBA

In the 1980s, Fältskog released three English-language solo albums. Their success was mostly limited to Europe, Scandinavia in particular.

At the end of 1982, she duetted with Swedish singer (and former ABBA backing vocalist) Tomas Ledin on a song called "Never Again", which became a Top Five hit in Sweden, Norway, Belgium, and South America. In the summer of the same year, Fältskog starred in the hit Swedish movie "Raskenstam" [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086173/ IMDB entry for Raskenstam] ] , and received positive reviews for her film début.

In May 1983, Fältskog released her first post-ABBA solo album, "Wrap Your Arms Around Me". The album became a moderate hit in North America and Australia, and reached the higher regions of the charts across Europe, including No. 1 in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Belgium and Denmark (where it became the biggest-selling album of the year), and No.18 in the UK. Critical reaction was mixed: "Rolling Stone" wrote that " [This] treacly, string-sopped outing doesn't begin to do [Fältskog] justice", but "Stereo Review" magazine concluded that it was a "highly entertaining piece of good commercial record making." Two singles from the album became relatively big hits in continental Europe. "The Heat Is On" became a No. 1 hit in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands, but only just scraped into the UK Top 40. The title track also reached No.1 in Belgium. In North America, the album track "Can't Shake Loose" was released as the lead-off single, reaching No. 29 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and No. 23 on the RPM Top 50 singles chart in Canada.

The same year, Fältskog was voted by the readers of Aftonbladet as "Best Female Artist Of The Year," and received the Music Award Price Rockbjörnen.

Her next album, "Eyes Of A Woman", produced by Eric Stewart of 10cc fame, was released in March 1985. "She is quite content to grace the works of various other lesser mortals with her immaculate, sugar-sweet voice," wrote Barry McIlheney in Melody Maker. The album sold well in parts of Europe, reaching No. 2 in Sweden and the Top 20 in Norway and Belgium, but failed to match the success of "Wrap Your Arms Around Me".

In 1986, Fältskog recorded another duet, "The Way You Are," with Swedish singer Ola Håkansson, which became another No. 1 hit in Sweden. In mid-1987, Fältskog travelled to Malibu, California, to record the album "I Stand Alone", produced by Peter Cetera and Bruce Gaitsch (fresh off Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" collaboration). Released in November of that year, it was a minor hit in Europe, except for Sweden where it spent eight weeks at No. 1 and became the biggest selling album of 1988. The single from the album, "I Wasn't The One (Who Said Good-Bye)," on which Fältskog duetted with Peter Cetera, was released primarily in North America, and became her second solo single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 (No. 93). It was also a Top 20 Billboard Adult Contemporary hit.

After the release of "I Stand Alone" in mid-1988 Fältskog took a break from her musical career and completely withdrew from public life.

econd marriage

In December 1990, Fältskog married for a second time, albeit briefly, to a surgeon named Tomas Sonnenfeld.

Autobiography

In 1996, her autobiography "Som jag är" was published in Swedish (in English the following year as "As I Am"), followed by several compilation CDs of her Swedish and English recordings.

Comeback

In April 2004, Fältskog released a new single, "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind" (a cover of the song originally recorded by Cilla Black). It reached No. 2 in Sweden, No. 11 in the UK, and became a sizeable hit throughout Europe. "It is exciting to hear her voice, utterly undimmed, delivering a tellingly-titled song," commented London's "Music Week". A few weeks later, the album "My Colouring Book", a collection of Fältskog's covers of 1960s classic oldies, was released, topping the charts in Sweden, hitting the Top Five in Finland and Denmark and peaking at No. 12 in the UK. "I love this record," enthused Pete Clark in London's "Evening Standard", while "Daily Mail" pointed out that "it reveals a genuine affection for the era's forgotten pop tunes." "The Times" reviewer noted that "her voice is still an impressive pop instrument," and "The Observer" shared the same sentiment suggesting that "time hasn't diminished her perfect voice." Reviewing the release in "The Guardian", Caroline Sullivan wrote: "Agnetha Fältskog has a vulnerability that gets under the skin of a song. She may be cheating a trifle by including no original material on this collection of 1960s covers, but if anyone can do justice to the likes of "Sealed with a Kiss," it's her. The soaring sentimentality evokes Cilla Black and Sandie Shaw in their mini-skirted pomp, and I don't say that lightly." The release attracted major media attention across Europe, but Fältskog staunchly refused to be involved in any extensive promotion of the album (including personal appearances), and thus limited her public exposure to several short newspaper interviews, a few videos and a Swedish-language low-key TV special. Yet, the album managed to sell more than 500,000 copies worldwide, 50,000 of those in the UK alone.

Shortly after this release, for the 2004 semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest, staged in Istanbul thirty years after ABBA had won the contest in Brighton, Fältskog appeared briefly in a special comedy video made for the interval act, entitled "Our Last Video." Each of the four members of the group appeared briefly in cameo roles, as did others such as Cher and Rik Mayall. The video was not included in the official DVD release of the Eurovision Contest, but was issued as a separate DVD release. It was billed as the first time the four had worked together since the group spilt. In fact, they each filmed their appearances separately.

In 2004, Fältskog was nominated for "Best Nordic Artist" at the Nordic Music Awards, and at Christmas of that year (for the first time in almost 20 years), she gave an extensive interview which was filmed by Swedish TV. Around the same time, Sony Music released a lavishly produced 6 CD boxed set comprising Fältskog's Swedish solo career before ABBA (five original solo albums - 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1975 - and an additional compilation disc with bonus tracks).

In January 2007, Fältskog appeared at the final performance of "Mamma Mia!" in Stockholm (as she had at its opening in 2005). Together with ex-husband and former colleague Björn, she appeared on stage at the after show party held at Stockholm's Grand Hotel. She also sang a duet, "True Love," with Tommy Körberg of "Chess" fame.

ABBA reunion

In July 2008, Fältskog arrived at the Swedish premiere of the film version of "Mamma Mia!" with former colleague Anni-frid Lyngstad and movie star Meryl Streep. The three danced in front of thousands of fans before joining the film's other stars and Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus on the Hotel balcony for the first photograph of all four ABBA members together in 22 years. The event made front pages of newspapers around the world as well as being shown live on news channels.

Solo discography

Swedish albums

*"Agnetha Fältskog" (1968)
*"Agnetha Fältskog vol. 2" (1969)
*"Som jag är" (As I am) (1970)
*"När en vacker tanke blir en sång" (When a beautiful thought becomes a song) (1971)
*"Elva kvinnor i ett hus" (Eleven women in a House) (1975)
*"Nu tändas tusen juleljus" (Now a thousand Christmas candles are lit) (1980, with Linda Ulvaeus)
*"Kom följ med i vår karusell" (Join us on our carousel) (1987, with Christian Ulvaeus)

English albums

*"Wrap Your Arms Around Me" (1983) UK #18, AUS #49, NO #1, SWE #1, NL #2, BE #1, GER #12
*"Eyes of a Woman" (1985) UK #38, SWE #2, NO #14
*"I Stand Alone" (1987) UK #72, AUS #96, SWE #1, NL #18, NO #15
*"My Colouring Book" (2004) UK #12, AUS #50, SWE #1, GER #6

Post-ABBA singles

* "Never Again" (1982) SW #2, GE #37, FR #44, NL #18, Chile #1, NO #5
* "The Heat Is On" (1983) UK #35, SW #1, GE #20, FR #9, NL #2, DEN #1, NO #1, BE #1
* "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" (1983) UK #44, GE #30, NL #3, BE #1
* "Can't Shake Loose" (1983) UK #63, US #19, FR #42, AUS #76
* "It's So Nice To Be Rich" (1984) (Swedish release) SW #8
* "I Won't Let You Go" (1985) UK #84, SW #6, GE #24, NL #12, BE #5, DEN #1
* "One Way Love" (1985) GE #37Fact|date=April 2007
* "The Way You Are" (Duet with Ola Håkansson) (1986) (Swedish release) SW #1
* "The Last Time" (1987/1988) UK #77, GE #49
* "I Wasn't the One (Who Said Goodbye)" (Duet with Peter Cetera (1988) (North-American release) US #93, CAN #93, US AC #19, CAN AC #21
* "Let It Shine" (1988) DNC
* "The Queen Of Hearts" (1998) SW #53
* "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind" (2004) UK #11, SW #2, EU #17, DEN #7, NL #18
* "When You Walk in the Room" (2004) UK #34, SW #11, EU #53

Compilations

*"Agnetha Fältskogs bästa" (1973)
*"Tio år med Agnetha" (1979)
*"Teamtoppen 1" (1985)
*"Sjung denna sång" (1986)
*"Agnetha Collection" (1986)
*"Agnetha in Germany" (1989) (official Japanese fanclub compilation of all German single records)
*"Geh' Mit Gott" (1994) ( official German limited publication of 'Agnetha in Germany')
*"My Love, My Life" (1996)
*"Svensktoppar" (1998)
*"That's Me" (1998)
*"My Very Best" (2008)

References

Bibliography

*"As I Am: Abba Before & Beyond" (1997) ISBN 1852276541
* Wille Wendt: "Topplistan - The Official Swedish Single & Album Charts", Premium Förlag, ISBN 91-971894-2-1
* "Guinness Book of British Hit Singles" 7th Edition - 1988

External links

* [http://svensktoppen.nu/artist.php?id=143 Svensktoppen.nu, detailed chart info]
* [http://www.agnetha.net/ Official Agnetha website]
* [http://www.abbasite.com/ Official ABBA site]


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