(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.))

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Three excellent forum posts re Agnetha's voice

© 2009-2014 (original portions only)

"...music, the most ineffable of all the arts." -- from several individuals, including this outstanding conductor.

Though many in the United States did not follow them when ABBA was performing -- or after -- that's not true for much of the rest of the world. (Many (others) in the large,diverse-market U.S. did follow, of course...)
One ongoing example: The excellent "abba4ever forum"(http://www.iphpbb.com/board/fs-30652567nx61610.html) features knowledgeable and experienced fans from all over the world.

"Agnetha's voice is angelic" is a (forum) comment (that I've) seen many times, and it succinctly sums up ex-ABBA singer Agnetha Fältskog's voice for many. (Pronounced [aŋˈneːta]. Here is a short, funny video...)
But fully describing something special is not often quick or easy. Looking over the posts included in this blog on the subject, several adjectives are employed to attempt description (for Ms. Fältskog's voice):
'Crystal-clear' (link, one example) and 'sweet' are invoked the most. Add 'bright' (very...). Feeling. (Or, 'emotion-packed' (at times).)  Plaintive (link is to one stellar example). Euphonious. Feminine. Sultry at times. Youthful-sounding. (Which may go along with clear and 'bright'...)
Also, brilliance, a noun and a vocal resonation/music expression term. (Or: brilliant (as an adjective; meaning #4). I'd bet Agnetha would enjoy that descriptor (in general)... ) And, a word or 'label' that's often overused (in general): Unique. Along with others familiar with her pristine voice, somehow I can immediately discern that the singer is Agnetha. 

The talented singer invokes quite a few, different adjectives. But if you wanted to ask this listener to succinctly describe Ms. Fältskog's voice/singing (not easily done), I'd offer these few descriptive phrases: Sweet (i.e., as in a sugar-sweet "overlay", or finish (at times)).... and bright. And, sweet and clear. Sweet and plaintive. Sweet and rangy. Sweet and with-a-smile-warmth (at times). (Another good, linked sample...) Sweet and....

Seeing a common "denominator" ....?

(Many to choose from, but one very good sweetness example (Swedish) is linked here. (Opens a new window:) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG4zeI-yPeg&fmt=18

Update: Though clear and crisp, the artist's singing (also) features nuanced subtleties as well. Agnetha was generally not a "belter".  (Aside: But how she produced her strong, "sharp-but-appealing-yell" backing vocals in ABBA's "Money Money Money", for example; I do not know. That one's nearly well-modulated screaming at moments (in the refrain)....)
It (therefore) often takes a few listens (via headphones) to hear various aspects of Ms.Fältskog's efforts, completely. One of many examples: This older song (in Swedish, link follows) displays a crisp and/or "metallic" quality in (or "around") her voice at times - which she beautifully softens at other points (in the song). She's unfailingly diligent with accenting appropriate syllables within lyrics, in general. (Although I don't know much Swedish.)  In-studio Agnetha is consistently "on" each music note, precisely.  
How she "infuses" that voice with incredible sweetness....is your guess: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiQkfs6WMRQ&fmt=18

(A quick, subjective aside:  Even Agnetha's speaking voice can be musical. Two linked samples: One where the singer briefly speaks, and another where she sings in a narrative style. Links are here (YT video now DELETED), and here . Note via the first link how her speaking voice seems to have two main components: A higher, musical/sweet quality, but also a prominent lower, resonant one as well. (There may have been some technical enhancement in this (TV show) example.) Remarkable.... Update: Another great example - both speaking and singing - is linked here. (It's from a 1976 Swedish radio broadcast. The ABBA demo song is 'Monsieur, Monsiuer'. (Update: *The original YouTube posting (for the old broadcast) is now gone. Another copy is available via the link (above)..... BTW, this site (link) also makes note of this particular interview/Agnetha's voice.)  Note the seemingly more open, un-guarded Agnetha, using her native language.... and the resonance in her speaking voice here. Contrasting to her sweet, high soprano voice in the accompanying song...)

Enough of my "take": The following three forum posts further describe special qualities of Agnetha Fältskog's voice, nicely. Excerpts are copied below: (Emphasis added by me.)

(Was she a siren'? (Definition 2.)    Photo: Agnetha Fältskog, ABBA, Ekeberghallen, Oslo, Norway, January 28th 1977. Author: Helge Øverås)

From forum member "Ainsley", posted on 9/7/09: "Agnetha? One can talk about range and accuracy, but these attributes no more define a great vocalist than a guitarist's ability to play fast makes them a great guitarist. It's about their innate tone, expression, interpretation and that certain little "something". Agnetha has these qualities in spades. Most modern vocalists seem interchangeable to me. I think they could well be made in a light engineering factory somewhere in L.A! (Don't even get me on to the subject of their cringeworthy "pole-dancing audition" style videos!....)"

And, from forum admin. "Johnny59" (8/24/09): (The excerpt is linked to his more complete, insightful article on his web site.)
"It’s the mysterious and wondrous magic of her voice. You fall in love with her voice. Not all people do that, and those who won’t, only will be able to see a talented singer, a blond cutie or even just a pin-up icon. But those who ever did, those who ever fell in love with that voice, never will shake loose again. They’ll be hooked for the rest of their life. It´s an addiction, but it´s a wonderful addiction."

And, from forum member "drimnagh"(8/25/09): "Being as objective as possible, one of the things I've noticed is that Agnetha's voice is often described as plaintive, etc and then there's the famous 'crying with her voice' adjective which is all true and great but one of the qualities which is mentioned much less often is the sheer punchy POWER in her voice when she chooses to 'belt' it out- I love this aspect of her voice and I wish she'd used it a little more often as it really packs a punch..." (Blogger note: What is this commenter referring to about "crying with her voice"? Agnetha produced a number of examples of that, but here is a YouTube link to (what I think is) one sample, within an ABBA song. (If possible, focus upon the higher-voiced singer, though it seems both ABBA vocalists are to varying degrees producing this effect.)) : (link) http://www.youtube.com/watch?fmt=18&gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=Os_bSwg02J4
See? I'm not alone - even here in the U.S.

Update: Linking another great observation from Mr. Chris Tarrant, English broadcaster from that nation's recent, ITV ABBA TV special. Enjoy this "deep link' to a current YouTube segment on ABBA's 'SOS' (from the 2010 show). (And I'm certain Mr. Tarrant meant "hair standing up" ( re effect of Agnetha's voice) in the "good" way....) Agnetha's exquisite song-opening lead vocal/video presentation...

And one more great quotation:  According to another forum poster ("PFQ"), Agnetha author Brita Ahman described the singer's voice as "a golden thread" running through ABBA's recordings. 
I'd expand the (likely) intended meaning of "golden" here to (also) acknowledge the metallic quality that Agnetha's voice could feature, especially with ABBA. (Agnetha solo song example of this quality is linked here. It is present at moments here as well (link).) 11/09 update: I hope it's an allowable excerpt, but here is the paragraph that follows the above, from Ms. Ahman in the 1996 "As I Am" biography (page 127). Best paragraph in the book, IMO. (Re Agnetha's voice:)

"She has a very wide register and range. Occasionally, there's a kind of vulnerability in her tone, an exposed surface, which means that on some songs she hits people right in the gut. Her voice is a kind of portrait of herself."
The 1996 bio has its flaws but that is a superb description....

(And; pressing on with my own little figure of speech from above: That voice might perhaps be a "metallic-framed" 'portrait',in some instances....)

There's much more about the artist's special voice in this blog, including a few 'technical' details, beginning here (link): http://star4abba.blogspot.com/2009/06/agnethas-best-voice-one-way-love.html  

Also, a link to a YouTube playlist (unofficial) with sample songs from Agnetha Fältskog's solo career: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=F1E367911859E577

Blog note: This blog entry is backdated to better fit within the order of posts here. It's actual creation date is 10/21/09. Last edited/updated, 2010.

Link to my full blog: http://star4abba.blogspot.com/

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