In 2000, Madonna released her eighth studio album, Music, featuring hits including the title track, “Don’t Tell Me,” and “What It Feels Like for a Girl.”
Music only had 10 songs, but during the studio sessions for the album, Madonna also recorded a cover of the little-known ABBA track “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room” that was left on the cutting room floor.
She was working with producer William Orbit, who produced her critically acclaimed previous album Ray of Light two years earlier, when she recorded the cover, which sounds closer to a children’s lullaby than the dancefloor anthems she’s known for.
The track features dreamy lyrics, with the singer apparently reminiscing on a past relationship: “All the outside world subdued / Everything comes back to me again / In the gloom / Like an angel passing through my room.”
Of course, this is not Madonna’s only time borrowing from the Swedish supergroup.
Her iconic single “Hung Up,” featured on her 10th studio album Confessions on a Dance Floor, famously samples ABBA’s disco hit “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” — to fabulous effect, might we add.
For reasons unknown, Madonna’s version of “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room” was never officially released, but it leaked to the internet 15 years ago, in August 2008.
The track probably doesn’t scream ABBA to you, and that’s intentional.
After pumping out a career’s worth of disco hits, the group wanted try a different sound. At one point, the song did have more traditional disco-inspired production, but it became out too similar to “Lay All Your Love on Me,” which was still climbing the charts when “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room” was recorded in 1981, so they retooled it.
Instead, ABBA created a track unlike anything they’d done before, with sparse production, the sound of a ticking clock, and notably, only the vocals of Anni-Frid Lyngstad.
The track remains the only ABBA song to feature just one vocalist.
“Like an Angel Passing Through My Room” marked the end of a chapter for ABBA. It was the last track on their last studio album, The Visitors, before their decades-long hiatus (the group reunited for the album Voyage in 2021 after 40 years out of the studio).
The Visitors was released in November 1981 and topped the charts in several territories, but it ultimately wasn’t as popular as the group’s previous albums.
In 2012, a deluxe edition of The Visitors was released, featuring bonus tracks including a medley of demo versions of “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room.” That includes a very early recording of the melody with temporary lyrics inspired by “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
The medley was the first previously unreleased ABBA recording since 1994.
Check out the demo medley, “From A Twinkling Star To A Passing Angel,” below.