Pop legends ABBA earn their highest charting album ever on the Billboard 200, and first top 10, as Voyage debuts at No. 2 on the chart dated Nov. 20. The set was released on Nov. 5 and is the quartet’s first new studio album since 1982’s The Visitors.
Until this week, ABBA’s highest-charting album on the Billboard 200 was 1978’s The Album, which peaked at No. 14 on the July 22, 1978-dated chart. The Album contains the hit single “Take a Chance on Me,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs chart. The Album was the follow-up to Arrival, which peaked at No. 20 and includes the act’s lone No. 1 Hot 100 hit, “Dancing Queen.”
The Billboard 200 chart ranks the most popular albums of the week in the U.S. based on multi-metric consumption as measured in equivalent album units. Units comprise album sales, track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA). Each unit equals one album sale, or 10 individual tracks sold from an album, or 3,750 ad-supported or 1,250 paid/subscription on-demand official audio and video streams generated by songs from an album. The new Nov. 20, 2021-dated chart (where Summer Walker’s Still Over It debuts at No. 1 and ABBA’s Voyage starts at No. 2) will be posted in full on Billboard’s website on Nov. 16. For all chart news, follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both Twitter and Instagram.
In total, Voyage marks ABBA’s 14th charting album on the Billboard 200 and seventh to reach the top 40. (Not counted among those are the two Mamma Mia! film soundtracks, which consist of covers of ABBA tunes by their respective film’s actors. Both albums found great success, with the first Mamma Mia! soundtrack hitting No. 1 in 2008 and the sequel film’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! soundtrack reaching No. 3 in 2018.)
Voyage starts with 82,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending Nov. 11, according to MRC Data. Of that sum, album sales comprise 78,000 (making it the top-selling album of the week and the largest sales week for an album by a group in 2021); SEA units comprise 4,000 (equaling 4.9 million on-demand streams of the set’s songs), and TEA units comprise a negligible number.
Voyage also sets sail at No. 1 on both Billboard’s Top Album Sales and Vinyl Albums charts. The album’s sales were bolstered by not just nearly 40 years of anticipation, but also the availability of a range of variants of the album. While the audio contents across the editions are identical (all contain the album’s standard 10 tracks), there were eight vinyl LPs (a standard black LP, two picture discs and five additional color variants), six cassettes (a standard edition, plus five with alternative cover art) and multiple CD variants (a standard edition, two boxed sets and a number of editions with alternative cover art).
Of the album’s total sales of 78,000 for the week, physical sales comprise 60,500 (with 42,000 on CD, 17,500 on vinyl LP and 1,000 on cassette), and digital album sales comprise 17,500.
Voyage was announced on Sept. 2 and reunites all four of its members for the all-new album: Benny Anderson, Agnetha Fältskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Björn Kristian Ulvaeus. In a press release, the band stated, “We took a break in the spring of 1982 and now we’ve decided it’s time to end it … To tell the truth, the main inspiration to record again comes from our involvement in creating the strangest and most spectacular concert you could ever dream of.”
The show, titled ABBA Voyage, will open on May 27 at the ABBA Arena in London – a 3,000-seat arena built specifically for the show. ABBA will star in the concert as digital versions of themselves circa 1979, created by Industrial Light & Magic. The digital representations of ABBA were realized after, according to a press release, “weeks and months of motion-capture and performance techniques with the four band members.” Onstage, the digital versions of ABBA will be backed by a live 10-piece band.
“We’re going to be able to sit back in an audience and watch our digital selves perform our songs on a stage in a custom-built arena in London next spring,” ABBA stated. “Weird and wonderful!”