On Thursday morning, U2’s Bono and The Edge appeared on BBC Radio 2 and paid tribute to their longtime friends, ABBA, with an orchestral cover the Swedish band’s 1975 hit “SOS.”
“I’ll tell you what, they’re just better songs,” Bono said of ABBA during the broadcast on Radio 2’s Piano Room (on BBC Sounds and BBC iPlayer). “You can’t be empirical about everything in art, but sometimes songs are just better.”
The choice of “SOS” was well-suited for the intimate Piano Room. Switching out ABBA’s sunshiney ‘70s arrangement for a slower acoustic affair, clad with strings and Bono’s signature croon, the duo’s version shows off some of the nuances of the track that can oh-so-easily get overlooked once you’re on the dance floor. “This is the great ABBA… and this is a marketing gimmick from U2 called ‘SOS!’” Bono quipped before they played the song.
Speaking to host Gary Davies, the Irish icons explained that their love for ABBA wasn’t easy to embrace… in fact, when a teenage Bono first heard them, he was hesitant to admit that he enjoyed it. “I didn’t have the courage to own up to [liking ABBA] when I was 16 in the middle of punk rock,” he said.
Thankfully, Bono’s guilty pleasure didn’t stay that way for too long — by 1992, he was an outspoken fan. On tour that year in Stockholm, U2 brought out ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus for a cover of “Dancing Queen.” When Bono recalled the night to Davies, he aptly said: “We murdered [it].”
On Radio 2’s Piano Room, Bono and The Edge also performed “Vertigo” and “One.” All this comes as U2 is heading into a busy year. Tomorrow, they will release Songs of Surrender, a project reimagining 40 songs from across their discography.
This fall, U2 will launch their “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at the Sphere” residency at the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas. Register to get info on those upcoming shows here.
As for ABBA, news came earlier this month that they’ll be taking their “ABBA Voyage” holographic concert “around the world,” but details are still forthcoming. The show is, however, still running in London until January 2024. Tickets are available now through Stubhub — where orders are 100% guaranteed through Stubhub’s FanProtect program. Stubhub is a secondary market ticketing platform, and prices may be higher or lower than face value, depending on demand.