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Abba's Bjorn Ulvaeus on modern hits written by large songwriting teams: "where's the heart?"

Abba
(Image credit: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson are one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of all-time, and as the Abba legends make their return with the Swedish pop titans for a long-awaited comeback album Voyage, they're also looking at a very different pop landscape than 40 years ago when the band was last active.

It can produce fantastic songs, but sometimes they can become impersonal

"Obviously, that's a different kind of writing," the 76-year-old Ulvaeus told Music Week of the large writing teams that are now credited for many contemporary hits. "It can produce fantastic songs, but sometimes they can become impersonal [because] where's the heart? Who is responsible for this? Whose emotions are we going to go by when there are 15 [writers], so that's easier when there's only two, for instance. It's a different kind of writing, that's what it is."

Ulvaeus added that this impacts the income for songwriters, noting that the music business currently placed "very little" value on songwriters. And as a result, if he was starting out now as an 18-year-old songwriter he didn't even think he'd pursue music professionally.  "I would have become a civil engineer because I was going  to be educated at university," he admitted.

At the heart of the problem for Ulvaeus is the relatively low income from streaming royalties songwriters receive; "If there are 15 of them and one stream pays $000.something, they have to drive a taxi."

Voyage is released November 5 2021

Rob Laing

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before that I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar.