(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.))

Friday, June 12, 2009

FAQ: Why hasn't Sweden's 'Litteris et Artibus' medal been awarded to ABBA's Agnetha?

 (2012 update: Agnetha gains recognition of a different form. More here (link, new window). 2014 update: Not quite the same as what is detailed below, but ABBA receives an (apparently) official prize, as detailed via this off-site forum link: http://www.iphpbb.com/board/ftopic-30652567nx61610-14716.html#625407 
...And one more belated update to the 2009 post that follows: I've learned from this website (link) that Agnetha once received a "gold medal from the king" (of Sweden) around the time of further honors from her birthplace (Jönköping), in 1984.)

(Previously written text follows, from 2009-10:)

Huh? OK, that question might not be on your '411' short list. And it's very likely not on the docket of ABBA's Agnetha [aŋˈneːta] Fältskog. But we're here, the question's been posed, so let's briefly work through this together why don't we. Perhaps someone who actually knows can enlighten ABBA/Agnetha fans about this one. (Note: Links below are light blue.)

Beyond what is shown on the web site for The Swedish Royal Court I admittedly know little about the subject. That source says that the Litteris et Artibus royal medal "... is awarded for outstanding service to the arts, especially to music, dramatic art and literature."
Also from the royal site, re Medals (in general) : "Medals are presented to Swedish and foreign citizens for outstanding contributions that benefit society and also in commemoration of significant people or important events."

Agnetha's former husband and ABBA band-mate Björn Ulvaeus was awarded this medal in 1999. Without knowing all of the criteria it's still fairly easy to understand why. He, along with co-writer Benny Andersson (ex-ABBA) have made significant music composition contributions since ABBA. And, of course, they were the (primary) writers of the successful group's many popular songs. (So why hasn't ABBA's musical "engine" Benny Andersson also been awarded this medal? Updated note: Mr. Andersson apparently has a few (other) honors of his own (link)....))

I'm not certain who (in Sweden) selects appropriate recipients of this medal, though it's likely H.M. The King himself and/or appropriate individuals with some formal (i.e., royal) association. And I'd guess that most of the rest of us don't know all of the criteria or qualifications for such an award.

Please note:
This is not the launch of a "mouse potato" campaign on anyone's behalf. (I.e., Ms. Fältskog.) I might be fairly presumptuous at times, but (even) I would not be that forward. (BTW, the artist is reputedly not a PC/Internet user.)  And per below, she doesn't need 'help'.

All that said: The interesting question remains. Out of curiosity, why hasn't this Swedish royal medal been bestowed to date? Some ideas follow, further below. Ms. Fältskog's desire for privacy may be a concern.

Many ABBA/Agnetha fans can offer reasons why she should receive serious consideration for an award. (You knowledgeable ones receive a gold star of your own and can probably skip this section.) A few obvious ones: 1) Her pure, brilliant singing voice alone should make her something of a "national treasure". (My opinion, but shared by many. Here, also.) I'm likely being naive, but Ms. Fältskog is so well-known and regarded via her voice worldwide, that (I'm bold enough to suggest that) perhaps she should (alternatively?) be considered for Sweden's Hovsångerska title.(Usually reserved for opera singers.) Both of ABBA's accomplished singers perhaps should be....   2) Her voice (plus, as noted several times here, her appearance, stage presence, etc.) helped sell over 350 million records for Swedish supergroup ABBA, worldwide. (All record sales figures are estimates, by record companies.) To many (not all), Agnetha was ABBA's primary "focal point". A pop music icon, though she did not seek that status. 3) As a solo artist since ABBA, she has sold millions of her recordings. (E.g., 1983's "Can't Shake Loose" (single), RIAA "Gold" certification. The Agnetha.net website (Bio section) puts song copy sales at 2 million +.) 4) In 1975, Agnetha co-produced and wrote most of the songs for a fine, solo studio album (in Swedish): Elva Kvinnor I ett Hus, Cupol CLPS 351, released December 1975.(Title translates to 'Eleven Women in One House (or Building)'. Bonus: View some fan/experts' rankings of this album's songs, here (link).  5) As a solo artist prior to ABBA, and even occasionally during her ABBA years, Ms. Fältskog (often) performed (in) local concerts or shows (e.g., annual "folk park circuit"), etc. throughout Stockholm/Sweden. (Note: Please refer to years 1972 or earlier via the excellent "ABBA Annual" link.) She also was a successful teenage singer in Sweden, prior to ABBA. She also starred as "Mary Magdalene" in the original Swedish production of the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar". (YT link to a distinct (and beautiful) performance...) 6) As noted previously in this blog, ABBA and Agnetha continue to be popular today via You Tube, worldwide. (I haven't even talked about the ABBA-inspired, successful musical, Mamma Mia!.) One of a number, this unofficial fan-created web site illustrates Agnetha's enduring popularity: http://www.divasthesite.com/Singing_Divas/Vox_Populi/vox_populi_Agnetha_Faltskog_1.htm 7) From what I know, Ms. Fältskog is a Swedish citizen in good standing; born, raised, and still residing there. AND, has likely been a "mega"-taxpayer in the Swedish system. 8) For ABBA and its members, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame beckons. I firmly believe that this overdue international recognition is coming in 2010. 9) Agnetha's got a (Note: volume is high on the clip) "secret" sense of humor.... (OK, I added that as a "medal qualification" ...And the sense of humor is not really a secret; here is a forum 'thread' devoted to it (link): http://www.iphpbb.com/board/ftopic-30652567nx61610-9485.html ) Update: 9a) Some of Agnetha's vocal 'antics' in certain solo appearances (link to one impressive example, new window), a few songs with ABBA, and the solo song mentioned in the next point; show a decided sense of humor with displaying (indulging) various vocal abilities. Although much is owed to this song's production, just one ABBA example: After enjoying Frida's appealing lead listen to the following song again (link), for Agnetha's intertwined, high (background) harmonies...
10) She did "Golliwog". (jk, again.)

Obviously, I could go on further about this, offer more reasons, etc. (Mercifully will not.) But this isn't a campaign. I doubt that H.M The King accepts "write-in votes" for potential medal recipients. It's likely considered rude to even ask....

Regardless...Examples seem to be many for Ms. Fältskog, supporting the stated qualification of "outstanding service to the arts, especially music...(etc.)". Other popular singers in Sweden have been awarded this medal. As noted, we don't know all of the criteria. Perhaps it's "not such a big deal" in Sweden. Perhaps it's believed that ABBA members have received enough (money, rewards, etc.) Equal time: Here's a link to another point of view about awards for ABBA members: http://www.abbaplaza.com/site-en/columns.asp?ColumnId=45.

But also, there may be complicating factors when it comes to Agnetha herself. Her private nature, her reported "discomfort" with crowds, public situations/attention, etc. may very well be part of any consideration here. (Though I would guess that any actual medal ceremony would be rather small and controlled - if there's one at all.) In short, the Royal Court (or whomever) may respect her general nature, and may be reluctant to call attention to her in such a way. 2010 update: Is
Ms. Fältskog beginning to appear more often at public events (link)? Also, it may be an awkward situation to present such an award to a single member of ABBA, though, again; they've already done so with Mr. Ulvaeus. E.g.,ABBA singing partner Anni-Frid Lyngstad certainly merits equal consideration.

(Update: This paragraph was originally written in 2009. Portions may not be accurate now:) OK, I'm actually going wrap this too-long post up shortly....Ms. Fältskog does not need any "help" with any of this by the way. (Not that she's asked!) It was reported that she's been seeing a prominent man named Bertil Nordstrom, who I read somewhere is acquainted with either H.M. The King and/or other members of the Royal Court. Actually: This site says he's the King's "closest friend". I guess you (still) don't just ask about bestowing a medal .... (Of course, I would.)

Speculation. It can go on forever. (Obviously.). I thought it was an interesting question to pose, however. If this blog is read I (also) think that Agnetha's contributions (to ABBA and beyond) are a bit under-appreciated. And, as shown, she and her voice continue to be loved by listeners throughout the world. It would seem to be a nice way to recognize her accomplishments, and perhaps even a very nice "present(?)" for her upcoming 60th birthday. (Or around then.)
It just seems that it might be time to give her some serious consideration.

Addendum: A link to a 2007 article in "The Local" ('Sweden's News in English'), about women and Sweden's Royal honors in general: http://www.thelocal.se/8576/20070922/

Updated note: Is ABBA appreciated in Sweden? Not too sure about that (link): http://www.iphpbb.com/board/ftopic-30652567nx61610-7786.html

Recent (2010) update: What's up with The King?? (link) http://www.thelocal.se/30030/20101104/

 (This post is part of an unofficial website examining  (primarily)  the music and public career of ex-ABBA star Agnetha Fältskog.)
 © 2009-2010 (original portions)

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

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