(Blogger note: Except for 2013-14 updates below, much of this website was written between 2009-11. Reader update: All 'abba4ever' forum hyperlinks (within the blog's text) are defunct. (Forum has closed.))

Monday, March 2, 2009

Surprising Agnetha. (M-Magazine article.) And not-so...(Slightly updated, 2013)

 "...An artist's job is to captivate you for however long as we've asked for your attention..."  - (attribution is included near the end, below)
and:
(A text excerpt from the blog entry that follows:)  "...(A)n evident contrast - even incongruity - with this entertainer: Clearly a 'big' star's voice, appearance, accomplishments, and more. Stated 'little star' (career) desires/preferences, though - as an adult."


(Note: What follows is - in part - a research-based commentary piece. It is part of an unofficial website examining singer Agnetha Fältskog's public career. This is an updated (early 2011) summary/wrap-up post for this blog. 
Pls. see the bottom of the post for a very brief 2013 update....)

At one point in Bright Lights, Dark Shadows, his definitive ABBA biography, Carl Magnus Palm refers to blonde singer Agnetha Fältskog as "...a reluctant superstar...". (Page 443.) 
After a couple of years of belatedly learning here about the Swedish performer's public career, that seems to be a good, succinct description.  (A nicely-edited YT performance video (from long ago) perhaps displaying both aspects is linked here (new window).) 

To start off here, a very brief glance at the 'star' aspect (much more available throughout this blog):
At her performing peak no woman in popular entertainment was more alluring than Agnetha. (One indelible sample from the mid-1970s is embedded below.) Her "devastated performance" on The Winner Takes It All - ABBA's best (of-best) song - showed the world what the singer could do with her clear soprano voice. And as this blog endeavor has attempted to show, Ms.Fältskog produced many first-rate singing efforts via her solo career; before, during and after ABBA.



(YT link to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVZ4WuQ1zgw&fmt=18)
(Another unbelievable performance (from the same time period) by this spellbinding pop singer is linked here (new window): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OOrleE6wfc&fmt=18 )

Though a new generation may not know her in much detail, millions of Agnetha fans remain all over the world today. And although it may be hard for some in the United States to fathom (where ABBA and Agnetha did not achieve comparable market success), in several civilized parts of the world this beautiful/talented performer was/is the (shy )"queen" of 1970s-early '80s pop music. (Or would you believe..."Fairytale princess" (link)...) Perhaps even experiencing something of a renaissance now - in part - via YouTube and other modern mediums.

There is much more within this blog....but that was a truncated mention of a couple of past, professional highlights. (Agnetha's "Wikipedia" entry is also linked here.)   What about today? (Early 2011.) And what about that "reluctant" part? (More will follow, below...)

Although this blog effort certainly strays at times... it remains primarily a music- and voice-related "study" of Agnetha. (From afar.) But as can be seen from the 'recent news' section in this blog's upper-right corner, Ms.Fältskog has made a number of public appearances of late. Much to the surprise and delight of fans worldwide. And she's now (December, 2010) completed a mostly-for-fun photo-shoot and interview with Sweden's glossy 'M-Magasin'.




A rare interview with interview-declining Agnetha....It's translated into English here (link). Think Ms.Fältskog still isn't cared about or listened to, extensively? The 'M' article was mainly a fun photo session and chatting about clothes, etc. (for ladies of a 'certain age'). Yet editor Amelia Adamo reports requests from everywhere for copies of the issue. Agnetha's cautious "yes and no" (in the interview) to the obligatory question about some form of one-off ABBA reunion has made news, worldwide. Update: Much of that (coverage was) exaggerated, no doubt. That the usually quiet lady publicly "didn't say no" for the first time in 25+ years is entertainment-related news, though. I.e., Ms.Fältskog could have said "no comment"; or just "no" if that is what she meant. (Maybe she really is more open now to some form of ABBA get-together...) Partial CORRECTION: It seems that Agnetha has said at least once in the past (publicly) that she "wouldn't mind" ABBA reforming. (E.g., in this 1985 TV interview (link).) If desired, change the words in my sentence above from "the usually quiet lady" to "an ABBA member recently [and publicly].... " (In 1996's As I Am biography though, Agnetha stated (re any comeback) that: "ABBA needs a rest. What will be, will be...." (pg. 149))

(Continuing:) It also seems apparent that, per the magazine interview, per below, and per much of this blog; Agnetha does not seem to completely acknowledge or realize the star that she (still) is (to many). And that ABBA still are.

(2011 update: One last comment re the (mostly-) tabloid media 'frenzy' that's occurred after Agnetha's 'reunion maybe' interview answer. Two words (or is it three?): Dedicated website. On-line is 'where it's at' now, and an official, dedicated web presence would allow the artist (if not retired) to disseminate her information, promos, etc., and bypass the media. (And possibly some interviews -- generally not an enjoyable task for the singer. (As she indicates at the beginning of the 'M-Magasin' chat...))

(Continuing on:) Deep analysis of a fun/fashion chat in a Swedish, 50+ magazine isn't going to occur here. (Well, a little will (occur), anyway...Ms.Fältskog doesn't interview often.) It is appropriate to focus upon the several positive statements from the interview. They seem consistent with other, recent interviews with the performer: (Potentially significant from the perspective of this blog,) Agnetha is singing again on her own, a little bit. She works to stay in good physical shape. She tries to have a positive outlook. Loves her grandchildren. And, very importantly, Ms.Fältskog notes (when asked of there is anything she "would like to go back to" (re spotlighted career): "I'm living exactly the life I want to live today."
(To some, this might also be read - along with her "...I want to be left alone" statement in the article, as: The singer is an independent person, with the means and inclination to do what she wants, and when she wishes to....If interested, pls. see a bit more re this impression via the biography quotation (written by Agnetha (in 1996)) near the end of this (previous) post (link). )

BTW: I appreciate this inserted, personal comment from Amelia Adamo (in the printed ('M-Magazine') article), who I thought did a nice job with the interview: Amelia notes: "This unearthly famous celebrity sitting on my couch keeps a very low profile.... There is nothing Garbo-mystery about her. She is more of a genuinely shy Swede. Nah, I'm not that special, she seems to think when I get star-struck." 

Probably a good, general  "take" on today's public Agnetha. Later in the interview, Ms.Fältskog reiterates that she is "very shy", and enjoys being at her home in an outlying area of greater Stockholm. (But please see the "contradiction" section further below here...Also, a worthwhile 'side trip': Please enjoy this ABBA forum's English translation (link, new window) of a charming 2009 interview with Agnetha (by Lotta Brome). Among other items it seems to include hints about why the singer may be reluctant to record again. I.e., as suggested throughout this blog, Agnetha --and also ABBA partner Frida -- set a 'high bar' with their work in the 1970s-'80s....)

(Additonal side note: Agnetha also mentioned her "three" solo albums ("after ABBA") twice in this interview.... I somehow find that intriguing as well. Was that a bit of a promo for them? A reminder (of them, for us)? Also BTW, I believe that Ms.Fältskog produced four, in-English solo albums, post-ABBA....May depend on what is defined as "post-ABBA"....
Also: Ms. Adamo's question, "Where do you sing today? In the shower? To the horses?", was one of the better ones posed to the famous vocalist in recent memory. It showed some 'brass', and elicited an interesting response....It's definitely a question that many fans have.))

That's (part of) a snapshot of present-day Agnetha. Is that the real person? This blog writer (still) does not know completely, of course. For the most part, I'd guess that this is primarily the 'real' person speaking; at least for public consumption. Ms.Fältskog is often candid - to a point, within her 'comfort zone'  - in her occasional outside interviews. (Side trip: For additional glimpses of Agnetha, try this very good, linked 1983 article.) Not being a psychologist, Agnetha again appears to genuinely display traits of a more introverted person - at least when talking publicly. (Another interesting article on that subject is here.) She seems reflective, sensitive, "recharges" herself via (or prefers) more solitary activities/intimate family group, close friends, etc. (FWIW: This blogger happens to be similar to that...) It can be a stereotype but - additionally - in some clear ways; perhaps an "artistic temperament". (That is a guess.) Ms.Fältskog may be quite a sensitive person; affected deeply by....much. (Another illuminating, general article (not necessarily specific to/for the singer) linked, for those interested. Update: Since we are guessing, this 'type' or aspect could be another possibility (link).)

Possibly a significant part of the "'reluctant" in 'reluctant star'....

However - without reading too much (more) into this interview - I think that there is (and almost always has been) an intriguing "twist" with this successful performing artist. And that is: She has been a successful, popular performing artist. From reading Mr. Palm's biography plus some older interviews with Agnetha, I've occasionally wondered if Ms.Fältskog isn't partly an interesting mix of influences from her parents. I.e., the more extroverted, "showman" father, who entertained (put on variety shows) locally, but also; her quieter, home-maker mother. (Reportedly a good singer in private...)  I'm not qualified to go further with this. 
But - especially for Agnetha's many fans of her voice and melody-writing - it is tantalizing to read (via 'M-Magazine') that she again responds (when asked):
"...I have a suitcase with half finished songs. I invent these really beautiful melodies, but then I don't follow through. (Interviewer:) Why not?  "I really don't know. I was 15 when I started singing in a band. At 18 I made my first recording. When I was 25 ABBA was formed. After ABBA I have done three solo albums. Perhaps I've been creative enough?"
 (Source: http://abbamikory.blogs.com/abbamikory/2010/12/agnetha-shows-off-her-favourite-clothes-and-talks-about-being-60.html )


"Perhaps I've been creative enough"...but with a question mark. (If translated properly.) She is singing again - a bit. Has many "half-finished" songs....



(If not known, Ms. Fältskog is on the left, above.) Image sources: http://img824.imageshack.us/f/un42511.jpg/ also http://www.iphpbb.com/board/ftopic-30652567nx61610-10355.html

The 'reluctant star'. Admittedly shy; yet a shining star when the lights come up. When creativity and/or the desire to "show her talents" bubble up and prevail over almost anything else.

And... a fascinating contradiction (it seems) as well. (Or combination of contrasts, or a bit of an enigma, if you prefer. Note: The following is not intended as some kind of "knock" upon Ms. Fältskog, who can - as noted above - be exactly who and what she wishes to be.  It is research-based observation/commentary. Also, as just alluded to, a few contrasts (below) may result from a distinct separation (or difference) between Agnetha the more reserved, private person, and Agnetha the public show-business performer. )
 
(Reader note: Click here if you wish to 'jump' past the following analysis, directly to this post's conclusion...) :

The publicity-averse "homebody".... who still surfaces for a candid interview/ fun-fashion photo shoot in a Swedish glossy. ("Doing a friend a favor..." The smiling, pajamas(?) pics published also contrasted with several more serious things she said in the interview...) The staying-as-"anonymous-as-possible" 60-something... who's garnered worldwide attention with her offhand, ABBA comments in the women's magazine chat. The "I want to [insert: or prefer to] be left alone" (again) accomplished singer....Who then publicizes that she still writes "half-finished" songs in the same interview. And dreams (out loud) of (professionally) singing a (blockbuster!) movie theme song....(BTW: Which I think may indicate that Ms.Fältskog believes she remains a professional-level singer....But will she (seek/find the appropriate medium to) record again?) 

2011 blogger update and edit: Although I have not received many comments re this section of my post, I've (belatedly) decided to remove much of the speculative analysis (which followed). (Also, some of the (research-based) personality-related observations that preceded....) Simply put, I do not know Ms.Fältskog (the person), so at least some of the research-based 'analysis' (in these sections) is too theoretical. And not substantiated enough. Some also is/was not music focused.  
FWIW, I am leaving these final sentences intact to provide a flavor of where I was going (with the contradiction/contrasts topic):
 
(Continuing with the original text:) The embodiment of beauty and talent from her time in worldwide popular music; an enduring icon .... resolutely striving for anonymity (now). The distinct-voiced, critically-acclaimed, successful composer/singer....who has referred to her music as her hobby.  


(This particular subject can go on and on....mercifully reigning it in now. Thank you for bearing with me...Being an ardent fan of Agnetha's voice and music (even a recent one) apparently involves a bit of sacrifice and/or much patience. (I.e., not a lot new released since the 1980s.) And perhaps, a fundamental understanding of the artist/person. Who once noted that she prefers "...being a little star". (Vs. a big one....It is partly covered above, but that self-description condenses an evident contrast - even incongruity - with this entertainer: Clearly a 'big' star's voice, appearance, accomplishments, and more.  Stated 'little star' (career) desires/preferences, though - as an adult. (As previously noted, motherhood had much to do with this...))

 ....Of course, there is still one (other) possible reason (of several) for Agnetha's recent, public words and appearances: She is reviving the "brand"...or maybe sending up a few 'trial balloons' (for it).  This possibility is regularly speculated upon by tabloids... )



...Another overly-long posting here.... What a surprise to those brave enough to read....well; really any of them. So here - at last - is the "wrap": This tiny, music-oriented blog is not going to chronicle or keep up with social doings of the recently-visible Ms.Fältskog. Several other websites will do that very well for you. (The 'abba4ever' forum is one good spot to stay current (about all ABBA members and more). Mikory's ABBA blog is another; plus a couple more listed via the "Links" link up at the top.)

We've encountered a bright star here. Partly eclipsed by the terrestrial world that she embraces (via family and friends) -- but also forgoes. It is fun for fans of the generally private singer to watch her in public occasionally of late. We are going to 'keep watch' here.... But to see if any new music or significant new releases of solo(?) material might be forthcoming from the Swedish singing star. The 'M -Magasin' piece did offer tantalizing hope, perhaps. Until then, probably the last post here for... awhile(?).


Thanks to readers for stopping by. If you've pretty much read just this one entry let me possibly save you some time and 'trouble', and be succinct (for once): One word for artist Agnetha Fältskog (not easy to do): Captivating*. Hence, a successful performing artist - at minimum - per the partial quotation at the top of this post, from the former U.S. TV series The West Wing. (Taken out of context - but it is useful.) Outright gifted in both voice and appearance (also progressively developed/cultivated), Agnetha the public performer: Magnetic. Dazzling.... long after she asked for, or wanted, our attention.

For many.... willing to look and listen:  A star. (Self-stationing or -positioning....)
 

End of words: A YouTube playlist sample (link) of Ms. Fältskog, solo. She's a successful pop music singer/engaging performer with a sweet, clear, rangy and bright soprano voice. At moments, no one else sounds like her. A 'golden' lady with a golden voice. As asserted by one YouTube commenter: "Her voice is a cure." She has been a prolific recording artist... but maybe we'll be lucky to hear her again someday....





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* Blogger's note: Though unaware of it when writing the section above (and choosing one word describing Agnetha), the comprehensive 'abba4ever' forum (link) includes a pertinent (2009) discussion topic. Descriptions offered there are worth a visit for fans...
I'm glad to learn (belatedly, of course) that several knowledgeable fans independently agree.

10/12 update: As the "Agnetha world" now knows, there appears to be very good news for me - and all fans of course - re Ms. Fältskog recording again. Link to an updated post from this blog (new window opens):http://star4abba.blogspot.com/2013/03/313-official-web-pages-for-agnetha-at.html

2013 update! (Photo below.)

 (....A little less "reluctance" from the star (i.e., Agnetha, ref. the post above)....
In part and not by coincidence: (Outdated-) Public-image-altering/countering once again (link) ...in her career.  
...Interesting lady.  I.e.; (As an adult) she is quite willing to try to change the conversation when something matters to her/her perceived image.




 

(Image is linked to source....)

Another good one (a little blurry...)....:


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=543673165708885&set=pb.429701990439337.-2207520000.1389809557.&type=3&theater

 (Image is linked to source.)




 FYI: This entry is backdated to better position within the order of posts here. It's actual creation date is January, 2011. Edited several times, 2011,2012 and 2013.

Copyright (original portions only) © 2011-14.



3 comments:

  1. Good article. But you like Agnetha and criticise at the same time...tsk tsk
    Good work though. Enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think that Agnetha is more active than people think, but that she still shuns the spotlight on her private life after the horrible experiences with the Dutchman.
    It would not surprise me if she had a quiet, but very active social life, out of public view, or even if she travelled more, now that everyone assumes that she does not.
    She has set the stage for anonymity in public where no one will expect to see her. Perhaps she might surprise all of us.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Blog author note: I agree with the 8/28/11 commenter (above). Intentionally, the public knows little of the Swedish singer's private life - which I'd also guess is more socially active than many might think. If interested please see a bit more on the general subject via my "Is Agnetha a recluse? Nej." blog post here.(Dated 6/9/09 with subsequent updated sections.)

    ReplyDelete