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ABBA, Thank You for the Music

There’s a reason why “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again” is high on everyone’s list of the best movies of summer 2018, and it’s not because it’s an Oscar-deserving film with a profound message or story line. For avid fans, the ten-year gap between the first and second movie guarantees feelings of nostalgia that don’t require any kind of revolutionary plot twist. It’s emotional enough just to see the same beloved characters back at the Greek hotel where the on-screen magic first began in 2008.

The story of “Mamma Mia” is timeless: while loving mother Donna helps prepare her daughter, Sophie, for her wedding day, the teenage girl embarks on a quest to discover her real father, in hopes of him walking her down the aisle. The sequel flashes back to Donna’s graduation from Oxford University, upon which she adventures through Europe and meets the three men in question of being Sophie’s father during the first movie. Both stories are enhanced by the infectious music of ABBA, a 70s Swedish pop group.

I grew up worshipping ABBA the same way most kids of my generation worshipped the soundtrack of “Sesame Street.” The original “Mamma Mia” defined my early adolescence. I’d seen movies inspired by my favorite books, but never by my favorite songs. After ten years of blasting the soundtrack with my friends and family, I almost couldn’t believe Sophie’s story was going to continue. The sequel came at just the right time. Not only does it bring back fond memories for all of the beloved cult followers of the original film, but it also appeals to a new generation of wanderlust dreamers, most of whom likely have no idea who ABBA is.

While the plot and production of the movie might not be considered high quality or radical, the bond between the old and the new aspects of the movie are remarkable and clever. ABBA’s original hits, “When I Kissed the Teacher” and “Fernando” would’ve been considered summer anthems in 1976. These songs have been playfully reincarnated to fit the plot of Sophie’s story, and the “Mamma Mia” cast versions have quickly become songs of summer 2018. One of the most heartwarming scenes takes place towards the end of the movie, when members of the “young” cast (i.e. Lily James as Donna and Josh Dylan as Bill) reunite with members of the original cast (i.e. Meryl Streep as Donna and Stellan Skarsgard as Bill) for a final musical number on the shores of Skopelos, Greece.

Watching the new movie made me all kinds of nostalgic. I recalled pre-school dance parties to “Honey Honey” and blasting “Dancing Queen” as I drove myself to school last January on my 17th birthday. Now, I’m a senior, and in exactly a year, I’ll be crying to the sound of Meryl Streep’s voice in “Slipping Through My Fingers” and holding my mother tight as I embark on my own journey – to college. These songs are my past, my present, and my future. There is one for every occasion and every obstacle of life. Seeing them come to life on screen this summer was as magical as the experience was a decade ago, and I am beyond excited for a new generation to share the same obsession.