Throughout the 70s and 80s, ABBA have performed on numerous TV shows. On some occasions, they would perform live, but most of the time they would "lip-sync" or "mime" to the studio recordings. While it was a thing back then for artists to do this, I for some reason have a problem with the idea that ABBA would only lip-sync and not put any effort into their performances.
ABBA are perfectionists. When they'd perform live on tour, they worked very hard to recreate their iconic sound. Trying to sound exactly like you do on the studio recording is tough to do live, so it'd make sense that ABBA would simply lip-sync to the studio recordings. But to me, it doesn't seem like them to not put any effort into their TV performances.
What if for TV performances, they would sing live either with a pre-recorded backing track to get the instruments right, or with the studio recording playing alongside them as they sang? (I think that's called playback, but I'm not sure, lol) And then in post-production, the studio recording could be dubbed over if the audio wasn't good enough and didn't sound "perfect".
I've found a couple of videos to support my theory.
This first one is from 1974. If you listen closely, you can hear Agnetha and Frida singing live quite clearly over the studio track. A couple of times the studio track gets louder than their voices, but you can hear them.
Next is this performance from Agnetha in 1983. The studio recording is quite loud and prominent, but if you listen really, really closely, you can hear her live vocals hidden underneath it.
And then we have this performance from Frida singing "Something's Going On." Her live vocals are quite prominently in this video alongside the studio recording.
And then there's this performance where in the beginning, you can hear Frida's live vocals a lot in the beginning, and but the studio-recording is quite loud throughout the rest of it.
One could argue, saying that these last 3 videos are from Agnetha and Frida's solo careers, so they were maybe more comfortable with the idea of singing live or something, but why would Agnetha and Frida do anything differently from when they were in ABBA?
I don't know if this post made any sense, but it's just a theory and I'd like to believe that ABBA weren't "fakers" and truly did sing live on TV performances, just they ended up getting dubbed over in the end. :)
Stikkan Anderson: "In that same year we recorded another hour-long TV show. We wanted to sing live to show everyone that we weren't afraid of criticism. That programme was called 'The ABBA Story'. But not much did come of those live performances, because the TV sound isn't suitable yet for live performances. You have to understand that an ABBA song takes nights and days of hard work in the studio, where first class equipment is available. You can't recreate this sound just like that. That's why we decided to use a backing track and sing live to that. And it turned out really well. There were people who said that we sounded rather thin and that was justified. In the studio we overdub our vocals, which makes for a full sound. On TV, you can't overdub anything, that's why it sounds thinner. But we'd rather have a thin sound than mime, because ABBA actually isn't that good at miming. They hate it because it's dreary."
Just thought I'd share that. :) Anyways, if you have any thoughts about this, please feel free to share in the comments below. Remember this is just my theory, not fact. I'm no expert at this. I wasn't there when ABBA were performing in the TV studio. xD