I said ‘hello’, Roxette, where are you now? C’mon join the joyride, be a joyrider!

by Christopher Smith

Roxette: purveyors of power pop for over thirty years, they got “The Look”, there were “Dressed For Success” and we fell for them…”It Must Have Been Love”! Per Gessle (born 1959) and Maria Fredriksson (born 1958) formed Roxette in 1986 and have gone on to sell over 75 million records worldwide including four US number one singles and five consecutive multi Platinum selling albums. The pair first met at the end of the 1970’s while Gessle was a member of Swedish band Gyllene Tider and Maria was recording her debut solo album, but by the end of 1985 both were seeking something better and decided to get together and record. They took their name from a 1975 Dr. Feelgood song called “Roxette”.

The following year they released their debut single “Neverending Love” which made No.3 in Sweden and followed this with “Goodbye To You” which reached No.9. Both tracks came from their debut album “Pearls Of Passion” which got as far as No.2 in Sweden. In 1987, prior to writing and recording of their follow up album, the pair released the song “It Must Have been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted)” which returned them to the top five in their home country.

By August 1988 they were ready to release new music and premiered the song “Dressed For Success” making No.2 and followed this at Christmas with the power ballad “Listen To Your Heart” which made No.3. The album “Look Sharp” came in October and topped the album chart in Sweden being certified SIX times Platinum there! Up to now the group’s success was confined to their home country but 1989 would change all that with the release of the third single “The Look” which, when released in The States, went all the way and topped the singles chart. The song was released across Europe in March and would top the charts in Germany, Switzerland, Finland and Austria as well as gaining a top ten placing elsewhere, including the UK.

“Look Sharp” would follow suit and has sold over nine million copies to date. A re-released “Dressed For Success” would cement this success and was followed by “Listen To Your Heart” which gave the pair their second US number one single. A fourth single “Dangerous” made No.2 in the US whilst being paired with “Listen To Your Heart” in the UK, both tracks made it to No.6, one step higher than “The Look”!

Flushed with this success, Per and Maria were approached by Touchstone Pictures in early 1990 to use their earlier hit “It Must Have Been Love” in their forthcoming film ‘Pretty Woman’, albeit with the Christmas references taken out! So an edited and reworked version was submitted to the soundtrack and released as a single that Summer in conjunction with the film. ‘Pretty Woman’ was an enormous success at the box office taking $463m ($900m in today’s money) as was the soundtrack, and “It Must Have Been Love” was central to that success. It brought Roxette their third US number one as well as charting top ten in twenty five other countries around the globe, including a number three placing in the UK. The song was reissued there in 1993 and again attained a top ten peak position, selling just under 400,000 copies there to date.

Roxette were back in early 1991 with their third album “Joyride” and the title track which was released as the lead single. “Joyride” topped the chart in nineteen countries worldwide, including the US where they got their fourth chart topping single. Along with “It Must Have Been Love”, “Joyride” is their biggest selling single to date. “Joyride” the album was released in March and sped quickly to the top of the charts around the world, No.2 in the UK and No.12 in America, selling over 11 million copies to date – their biggest selling long player yet.

The album generated four further hit singles with “Fading Like A Flower” (US No.2, UK No.12), “The Big L”, “Spending My Time” and “Church Of Your Heart”, all of which charted top 40 across the world. The band took to the road with the Join The Joyride world tour playing to more than one and a half million fans across the world in 107 shows.

No sooner had the “Joyride” finished, Per and Maria were back in 1992 with the “Tourism” album and the first single “How Do You Do” which made No.13 in the UK and No.58 in the US as well as peaking at No.2 in Sweden, Austria, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland. The song received multiple Platinum and Gold awards for sales across four continents.

“Tourism” topped the chart in five countries worldwide, No.2 in the UK but faltered in the US, reaching a lowly No.117. The album has sold over six million copies globally. Two further singles were released, “Queen Of Rain” and “Fingertips” in 1993. The duo recorded the single “Almost Unreal” for the ‘Super Mario Bros’ film that same year, taking the song to No.7 in the UK and No.94 in America as well as a top twenty placing across Europe as well as Australia.

Roxette’s next release came in 1994 with the single “Sleeping In My Car” that topped the Swedish charts, reached No.14 in the UK and No.50 in The US. It was the lead track from their fifth studio album “Crash, Boom, Bang”, which charted top ten in fifteen countries including their home country of Sweden where it became their fourth consecutive No.1. It has sold five million copies worldwide. A further four singles were lifted from the album including the title track, “Fireworks”, “Run To You” and “Vulnerable”, all of which charted across Europe but not in America.

The duo returned the following year with their anthology “Don’t Bore Us, Get To The Chorus! Roxette’s Greatest Hits” which was a surefire runaway success, selling millions of copies the world over. Three new tracks were recorded and released as singles “You Don’t Understand Me” (Sweden No.9, UK No.42), “June Afternoon” and “She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”.

After a break, they returned in 1999 with the album “Have A Nice Day”, a number one in Sweden again, which has sold over two million copies worldwide and included the hugely successful single “Wish I Could Fly” as well as “Anyone”, “Stars” and “Salvation”.

Since 2000, the pair have released the studio albums “Room Service” (2001), “Charm School” (2011), “Travelling” (2012) and their most recent “Good Karma” in 2016. They have had singles chart success with “The Centre Of The Heart” (2001), “One Wish” (2006) and “She’s Got Nothing On (But The Radio)” in 2011.

Roxette continued to tour and play live until April 2016 when their 30th anniversary tour was suddenly cancelled due to Maria’s ill health. A statement was later issued saying that her doctor’s had advised her to refrain from playing live and that she would no longer tour with the band. Fredriksson later released a message stating: “Sadly, now my touring days are over and I want to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful fans that (have) followed us on our long and winding journey”. Per Gessle took to the road in 2018 with the Per Gessle Roxette tour. Whether Roxette ever record again in the studio remains to be seen, but Maria has recorded three solo tracks since, “Alone Again” and “I Want To Go” in 2017, and “Sing Me A Song” in 2018.

Stay in touch with Roxette through their WEBSITE and their FACEBOOK page

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Written by aylshamchris

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