When ABBA's Frida recorded a magical cover of David Bowie's 'Life On Mars'

1 November 2023, 14:33

Frida Lyngstad released a solo album of eclectic covers in 1975, including a David Bowie classic.
Frida Lyngstad released a solo album of eclectic covers in 1975, including a David Bowie classic. Picture: Getty/RCA

By Thomas Curtis-Horsfall

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She was a star before, during, and after ABBA.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad - or 'Frida' to the majority of her fans around the world - was renowned as one part of the four-piece pop supergroup ABBA.

Alongside her stint in one of the world's most successful pop groups of all time however, Frida maintained a modest solo career, where she'd be able to experiment with songs outside the confines of the pop powerhouse.

After achieving their breakthrough after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with 'Waterloo', ABBA were on a trajectory to global superstardom.

But even whilst their stock rose exponentially, Frida still continued to work as a solo artist ever so slightly out of the spotlight.

Prior to her career in ABBA, Frida was a jazz singer who switched to making folk-pop music after being offered a record contract by EMI, which resulted in her debut album Frida in 1971.

Produced by then-fiancé, Benny Andersson, the album was only a moderate success, so she then decided to take the opportunity to join up with Benny, Björn Ulvaeus, and Agnetha Fältskog to form the now-legendary ABBA.

However, she still had ideas to record her own music separate from the band, and did so once again in 1975 with her second album, Frida ensam.

The album included some unlikely cover versions which indicated Frida's eclectic music taste, including a gorgeous rendition of David Bowie's iconic, galactic ballad 'Life On Mars?'

Frida released her second solo album in 1975 when ABBA were becoming global superstars. (Photo by Jorgen Angel/Redferns)
Frida released her second solo album in 1975 when ABBA were becoming global superstars. (Photo by Jorgen Angel/Redferns). Picture: Getty

Again produced by her now-husband Benny Andersson, Frida ensam also used a cunning marketing ploy, by featuring a future ABBA song that would later become of the band's classics.

'Fernando', written by Benny and Björn, was an evident hit, and would be re-recorded the following year by the group, becoming one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Though, Frida's initial version wasn't released as a single in Sweden so fans had to purchase the album to hear it.

This meant it shifted over 130,000 copies after its release on 10th November 1975 and became an instant chart success in Sweden.


Whilst her gentle, plaintive version of future worldwide No.1 hit 'Fernando' was the incentive for fans to absorb Frida's new solo album, they stayed for her ambitious taste in covers.

That includes her sweeping cover of Bowie's beloved ballad 'Life On Mars?' which was recorded in Swedish and titled: 'Liv på Mars?'

Whilst much of the arrangement and orchestration stayed the same as Bowie's original, Frank Sinatra-parodying version, her folk-pop slant and alluring voice transformed the song into one of her own.

Frida also showed her varied music taste throughout the album, covering a slew of classic, era-defining songs from artists spanning a range of genres.

Liv på Mars?

Other covers that featured on Frida ensam were interpretations of The Beach Boys' 'Wouldn't It Be Nice', 10cc's 'The Wall Street Shuffle', and quite magnificently, the dramatic Italian ballads 'Anima Mia' and 'Vado Via'.

All recorded in her native tongue, it shows Frida at her most musically confident, keen to explore her personal favourites without the global focus that came with being in ABBA.

There are still tinges of her early successes with schlager - the continental folk-pop that provided the basis for the most part of ABBA songs - though her emotion is evident, irrespective of what language Frida sings in.

Ultimately, Frida's second solo album proved that despite their universal appeal and pop credentials as a supergroup, each individual member of ABBA was capable of producing their magical moments too.