popsmith_official

roxette

popography

Roxette are Per Gessle & Marie Frederiksson. Formed in 1986, they are one of the most successful international music acts to come out of Sweden, second only by Abba. They have notched up nineteen Top 40 hits in the UK, and achieved several Top 100 hits in the US, including four No.1s: The Look, Listen To Your Heart, It Must’ve Been Love and Joyride.

After already establishing themselves in their own right in Sweden’s music industry (Marie as a solo artist and Per as lead singer of band Gyllene Tider who had had three No.1 albums) , they came together and recorded their first song as a duo, Neverending Love.

Their debut album Pearls of Passion went to No.2 in the Swedish charts and went on to reach platinum status, went on to produce remix album Dance Passion the following year, but failed to leave a mark internationally.

Goodbye To You, Soul Deep and I Call Your Name followed as singles, giving them further Top.20 hits. Non album single It Must’ve Been Love (Christmas For The Broken-Hearted) gave them their second Top.5 hit the following year. Little did they know that 3 years later they would re-record the track, minus the festive sparkle, for the Pretty Woman soundtrack and end up with one of the biggest power ballads of all time.

This album also features the original version of So Far Away which features on the album Tourism, and Soul Deep also appears on the album Joyride.

The following year they began to record their second album Look Sharp! in Sweden and London. It was an instant hit in Sweden, selling over 140,00 copies within ten days, spent 7 weeks at No.1, and went on to be certified 6 x platinum. This album brought them international success, hitting the Top 10 in many countries. It hit No.4 in the UK were it was also certified platinum, and went on to sell over 9 million copies worldwide.

The Look was the song that launched them into international success, even though it was the fourth single form the album. It hit the No.1 spot in the US, spent six weeks at No.1 in Australia, and topped the charts in 25 countries. After it was such a hit it’s predecessors Dressed For Success & Listen To Your Heart were given re-release treatment and went on to give them two more No.1s in the US, with Dangerous hitting No.2.

Look Sharp! also brought us my personal favourite: Paint.

After the success of Look Sharp! the record label wanted them to re-locate to Los Angeles to work with top American producers, but they resisted and continued to record in Sweden, their homeland. Joyride went on to top the charts in many countries, being certified multi-platinum and went on to sell over 11 million copies worldwide. It’s still the biggest selling album in some countries.

joyride

Joyride, the launch single from the album was another international hit for Roxette. It was their first No.1 in Sweden, spent eight weeks at No.1 in Germany, and three weeks in Australia, plus another US no.1.

Fading Like A Flower was the second single and was another international hit but was kept off the top spot in some countries by Bryan Adam’s (Everything I Do) I Do It For You. For me, this is their best song. I absolutely love it. Her voice is one of the best IMHO and she sounds so good on this song. The light and shade and the levels in this song is everything. I love the drama!

The Big L was released as a single worldwide (apart from North America) and hit the Top.20 in most countries. Next up was Spending My Time...

Spending My Time is another of my all time favs. Which is odd considering I used to skip it when I was young (I used to hate ballads). Before this was released the record company went through with a merger deal which resulted in a hundred members of staff being fired. The consequent was this and fourth single Church Of Your Heart not getting the support they deserved. A video was shot for fifth single (Do You Get) Excited but because the previous two singles did not do as well, it was cancelled.

“I believed this was going to be our biggest hit ever, which might have happened if not our American record company had fired a lot of… ah, never mind. It’s a big song to us, anyway.”

Per Gessle, Wikipedia

tourism

September 1991 saw Roxette embark on their Join The Joyride Tour which would see them perform over 100 shows, reaching an audience of 1.7 million people worldwide. During this tour the band recorded their ‘concept’ album Tourism: Songs From Studios, Hotelrooms, Stages And Other Strange Places. It did exactly what it says on the cover. It was made on the road, in the many different countries they visited as kind of a ‘musical journal’ documenting the tour. It was released a year later but performed badly in the US, peaking at 117 in the Billboard 100, a far cry from the previous million selling album Joyride. But, it was a commercial success in Europe where it was certified platinum in many countries and went on to sell over 6 million copies. How Do You Do was the first single and is classic Roxette…

This isn’t one of my favs, to be honest, but it’s loads of fun and the video takes me back, just reminds me of the whole album. Sometimes it’s the feeling a song brings on, not the song itself. The gold in this album, and there is plenty, but my fav is second single Queen Of Rain

This song is very special to me. I always think it’s a bit cliché when fans say an artist’s music really helped them through something but this song used to help send me to sleep when I couldn’t. I went through a tough time in my first year of secondary school and this song used to help stop my mind from stressing, even with exam stresses in my final year, and everything in-between. You’d think it would remind me of those stressful times when I hear it today, but it doesn’t. I just love it. Her vocal are so soft in places, really beautiful to hear her softer side. It was originally meant to be the closing track on previous album Joyride but was replaced at the last minute by Perfect Day. Fingertips ’93 was the final single released from this album, but I much prefer the album version.

This album is one of my favs. The Rain, Never Is A Long Time and So Far Away (re-recorded from the Pearls Of Passion era) are rare treats for the softer side of Marie and her stunning vocals. Cinnamon St and Keep Me Waiting are both typical chances for Per to shine. Come Back (Before You Leave) is a great drive time song. The beautiful Silver Blue (again from the Pearls Of Passion era) is a really beautiful duet. There is just so much to love here.

And then came one of my all time favs…

Almost Unreal was originally meant to be the song for the soundtrack for the movie Hocus Pocus, but instead ended up on the Super Mario Bros movie. Marie was nine months pregnant when she recorded her vocal for this track and probably why we don’t see her full body in the high budget video (which features a very young Tony from Hollyoaks!). This song is a true favourite of mine, and upon doing the research for this very website, I found out that it is definitely not one of theirs, which is a real shame. It did pretty well, hitting the Top Ten in most European countries, No.7 in the UK Top Ten.

crash! boom! bang!

April 1994 brought us Crash! Boom! Bang! Roxette were ready to rox out! With a slight image change (Per was blonde again and Marie sporting an even shorter do) but the title track was actually a ballad, and a beautiful one at that. Sleeping In My Car was the lead single and their most rockiest song yet, not far removed from The Look but brought up-to-date with Marie on lead vocal. This is my fav lead single of their entire catalogue. Again, it’s very odd for me to say this as when I first heard it I hated it, but now it’s a strong favourite.

Sleeping In My Car gave Roxette their second No.1 hit in their home country, and the album went on to do really well, went gold in the UK, 2 x platinum in Sweden and Japan and went on to selling more than 5 million copies worldwide. This album has a much rockier feel which gives ample opportunity for Marie to ‘give it some welly!’ Marie takes the lead on two of my favs, she just sounds so strong on both tracks and I love the light and heavy flow of I’m Sorry as well as the very direct strength of Do You Wanna Go The Whole Way. Per gets to go full rock icon on Harleys & Indians (Riders In The Shy) and I Love The Sound Of Crashing Guitars and typical Roxette song Lies, but it isn’t without it’s softness. The First Girl On The Moon, Love Is All (Shine Your Light On Me) and Go To Sleep deliver that beautifully. I love the juxtaposition of this album!

The album spurned four more singles: Crash! Boom! Bang!, Fireworks, Run To You and Vulnerable. I am just realising that this is actually one of my favourite eras of theirs as I’m really trying not to post all four videos! Eeeh, I’ll narrow it down to two…

don’t bore us get to the chorus

Don’t Bore Us Get To The Chorus: Roxette’s Greatest Hits was released in 1995 and was to be the first of many compilations of their hits. This album was an immediate commercial success selling over 2 million copies in the first two months of release, and went on to sell more that 6 million copies worldwide. The US version disregarded the last handful of singles that weren’t released over there in favour of 2 new singles from Have A Nice Day. The beautiful You Don’t Understand Me was the lead single…

You Don’t Understand Me was co written by US composer Desmond Child, who wrote Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer amongst many other hits. This was the first time that Roxette had ever written with an ‘outsider’. I love this track. It gave them a bit of an edge, a sound a little similar to Massive Attack.

have a nice day

February 1999 bought us their sixth studio album Have A Nice Day. This album feels slightly different to their usual vibe, taking inspiration from Phil Spector and John Lennon and it also has hints of electronica about it. Wish I Could Fly was the first single, and what a song!

“This is a very special song to me. One of my all-time favourite Roxette songs. I never get tired of this”

Marie Fredriksson, Wikipedia

Wish I Could Fly went on to be the most played song across European radio that year, hit the Top 20 in most European Charts and went gold in Italy and Sweden. This is also one of my favourites. I love the darker, slightly edgy feel to it. This whole era is just so good. Crush On You and Stars (my personal favourite but the video is bonkers!) take Roxette out of their comfort zone but at the same time still manages to be so them! Waiting For The Rain is another stand out track with Marie sounding so good.

“They don’t mess about, do these Roxette types. Nary 30 seconds into opening track ‘Crush On You’, we find them hollering ‘I’m messing with a neighbour/Who killed my amp and Fender/He looked so sweet and tender/It’s hard to tell his gender’. Snakes alive! What newfangled madness is this? Clever-clever bastard of an album which defies Doctor Rock”

NME, British edition

Anyone, Stars and Salvation were also released as singles and It Will Take A Long, Long Time was used on the soundtrack for Runaway Bride which re-united Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.

room service

Next up we have 2001’s Room Service. This takes me back to when I was working at Tower Records. I was in the stock room, processing stock, and I just came across this. No buzz about it, didn’t even know it was coming. What a surprise! Needless to say I nearly lost my sh@t! I was SO excited.

Marie had very little to do with the production of this album due to being diagnosed with a brain tumour the year before. Lead single The Center Of The Heart is another slightly different sound for them…

Follow up singles Real Sugar and the beautiful Milk and Toast and Honey showed the real tone of the album. This album failed to do as well and was practically ignored in the UK with only one single release, but there is plenty here to love. To me this album is like a true sequel to Have a Nice Day, just in a slightly (more grown up) lower gear. Marie’s stand out track is Try (Just A Little Bit Harder). Make My Head Go Pop is typical Per and is the Stars of this album, just not as good. Fool would feel at home on Crash Boom Bang it’s just so classic Roxette. As per usual we have the sing out song by Marie My World, My Love, My Life which is another stunner. For an ‘under-performer’ it still did very well across Europe, reaching gold status in many countries and platinum in Sweden.

The following year we had The Ballad Hits in time for Valentine’s day, with single A Thing About You. The album performed very well worldwide, peaking at No.11 in the UK album charts, achieving gold/platinum status across Europe and silver in the UK

This was paired with The Pop Hits the year after with single Opportunity Nox. Another stint of illness for poor Marie (it really does break my heart) meant the song intended for her never got recorded, and the video for Opportunity Nox was animated. The album performed well across Europe, but not as well as The Ballad Hits., but it did go gold in Brazil.

2006 brought another greatest hits compilation: A Collection of Roxette’s Hits: Their 20 Greatest Songs, and two new songs One Wish and Reveal, which were the first time Marie and Per recorded together in four years. The video for One Wish is very special as it shows snippets from throughout their career. Enjoy…

2011 served up Charm School, their eighth studio album. Now, for whatever reason, I did not get on with this album. It may have got lost amongst other albums that year, I don’t really know what happened but it just didn’t do it for me. I’ve told myself many times that I should give it a revisit, but never had. Maybe now is the time. I do love the Bassflow remix of Speak To Me though. The album did the business for them though, appearing in charts they had not seen for a few years, going gold in many European countries, and platinum in Germany.

Next up: 2012’s Travelling: Songs From Studios, Hotelrooms, Stages And Other Strange Places or Tourism 2 as they wanted to call it but the record company wouldn’t have it. This album followed the concept of Tourism and was recorded on the road during their Neverending World Tour. It’s Possible was the only official single released

The album did well critically, having positive reviews, and charted well across Europe, achieving gold status in Sweden. There were a couple of promo tracks put out including a new Bassflow mix of See Me which was recorded during the Crash! Boom! Bang! sessions and is really good, and another Bassflow mix of The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye which was recorded for the Joyride album but didn’t make the cut.

2014 Saw them release another greatest hits compilation: Roxette XXX: The 30 Biggest Hits, then a year later The RoxBox, a shorter version of the compilation released in 2006 containing a collection of greatest hits, album tracks, demos and B sides.

June 2015 made a lifelong dream come true by finally seeing them perform live. The venue was the o2 in London. I was so excited, I’d been waiting for this for my whole life. It was amazing. I was so lucky to get all my favourites: Spending My Time, Watercolours in the Rain, and even a bit of ballad version of Paint. Emotion took over at that point I had tears running down my face. It may sound silly but it was honestly one of the most amazing shows I’ve seen and I will always remember it. I am so very happy I got to see them live before it was too late.

June 2016 saw the release of their swan song album: Good Karma, with It Just Happens as the lead single…

Good Karma, their tenth and final studio album. Makes me so sad just typing that! This performed well across Europe, hitting the Top 20 in most countries, no 25 in Australia, and even appeared in the UK’s Top 100 for the first time since 1995. Some Other Summer was the second single. My favourite track of the album is You Make It Sound So Simple. It has that edge again that I’m so fond of, and it’s also quite euphoric. Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers was their last ever single. This album was going to be promoted during the last leg of their tour, but under Dr’s orders, Marie had to stop due to ill health.

3 years later, 2019 Marie’s poor body had finally had enough and she passed away surrounded by her family. Truly sad, but what a life she had, and what a legacy she has left us. I personally thank you Marie, for sharing your gift with us and entertaining us with your music, inspiring us with your spirit and enchanting us with your voice. I know for me, this world was made a much better place because of you.

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