I let out a heavy, appalled groan over the weekend when I read that ABBA was going to release its first new material in 35 years.  I suspect that I was not alone, and that elsewhere in the world husbands who have learned the disturbing news are bracing for the potentially devastating impact of new ABBA songs on their happy households.

Photo of Agnetha FALTSKOG and ABBA and Bjorn ULVAEUS and Anni Frid LYNGSTAD and Benny ANDERSSONIt’s fair to ask why, after 35 years of blessed, ABBA-free silence, the four musicians in ABBA would see fit to inflict another bouncy, saccharine song upon the unsuspecting world.  Don’t the carefully coiffed Swedes in their curious apparel realize that the world has enough troubles?  Don’t they appreciate that only now, years later, are the ears and cerebral cortexes of human beings across the globe recovering from the inhumane punishment of the Mamma Mia! Broadway musical and follow-on film, which itself was one of the most devilish developments in the sad and sordid history of our species?

And that production, at least, was limited to old, familiar ABBA material.  After years of hearing ultrapop songs like Dancing Queen and Fernando and Take a Chance on Me, the ABBA deniers have been able to erect mental defenses against those audio onslaughts and go to their own mental happy place to hear the strains of The Who’s Baba O’Riley or Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love instead.

But, alas, there won’t be any prepared mental defenses against new ABBA material.  We’ll be walking down the street, passing a Starbucks or bakery, and the next thing we know we’ll be exposed unexpectedly to the new material and the shrill tones will become embedded in our brains where they will lurk forever.

The only good news is that ABBA has apparently recorded only two new songs, so the damage will be limited.

Pop Music In The Dentist’s Chair

Yesterday I went to get my teeth cleaned. As is always the case, the whine of the rotating toothbrush the dental hygienist was using was accompanied by the drone of pop music over the office sound system. For some reason the radio at that office is always tuned to Sunny 95, one of several pop music stations in Columbus.

Why Sunny 95? Who knows? Maybe the station encourages dental office listeners, or maybe there are studies showing that dental patients are less likely to focus on the fact that there mouth is hanging open and a stranger’s hands are inside if they are forced to listen to bland and mindless songs and equally insipid DJ chatter on a generic FM pop music station.

I don’t listen to pop music radio stations, and there’s a reason for that: they’re uniformly awful. The forced, allegedly humorous banter between the DJ team is always intensely annoying. The music sounds like it is computer-generated and is instantly forgettable — except, apparently, if you have to listen to the station all day. One song began as the hygienist was pricking away at my gum line with a sharp, cold, metal instrument and she instantly blurted out “I hate this song. They play it all the time.” The song, which I had never heard before, was about a girl on fire, and it certainly did suck.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to listen to such drivel for an entire working day, and suddenly I was intensely happy that my exposure to pop FM stations and the crappy music they play is limited to 40-minute increments every few months. When I left the office that morning, my teeth buffed clean and my gum line tingling, I happily got into my car, turned on one of the Sirius XM Classical stations, and left the pop music world behind.