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Music / Roxette

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Once an eighties duo, always an 80's duo.

"Their style is so adorably dinky, with rinky-tink rhythms, toy power chords, and teensy vocals, that you practically want to pet it. And the affection, apparently, is mutual."
Entertainment Weekly review

Roxette was a Swedish soft rock duo consisting of Per Gessle (guitars, vocals, main songwriter) and Marie Fredriksson (lead vocals, 1958-2019). They were the second most successful pop group to come out of Sweden, and considering who's first, that's no mean feat. Their height of popularity was from the late eighties into the mid nineties, mainly because that's when their American popularity faded and they went their separate ways. After a difficult period in the late aughts when Marie struggled with cancer, they announced their reunion and began a European comeback tour.

Already successful in their homeland, their international breakout came when the song "It Must Have Been Love" was included on the soundtrack of the film Pretty Woman and the highly successful single "The Look" was introduced on American radio by Minneapolis DJ Brian Phillips who was given a copy of the song by student Dean Cushman who bought the record while studying abroad in Sweden. The duo subsequently gained nineteen UK Top 40 hits, and four US number one singles. They continue to be popular in Europe and Latin America, whereas they'll always be remembered in the U.S. as being strictly an eighties band.

In 2002, the duo took a break from recording and touring when Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Gessle went on to release solo albums before Roxette took to the stage together again for the first time in eight years in 2009. They released three more albums in 2011, 2012 and 2016. Although the duo planned to release more studio material afterwards, Fredriksson's ill health caused by her cancer relapsing proved too much of an obstacle, and her death on 9 December 2019 ended the possibility of any further Roxette work.


  • Pearls of Passion (1986)
  • Look Sharp! (1988)
  • Joyride (1991)
  • Tourism (1992)
  • Crash! Boom! Bang! (1994)
  • Have a Nice Day (1999)
  • Room Service (2001)
  • Charm School (2011)
  • Travelling (2012)
  • Good Karma (2016)

Roxette provides examples of:

  • Album Title Drop: Look Sharp! is a cutaway vocal line just before the guitar solo on "Dressed for Success" on the album. Joyride and Crash! Boom! Bang! are named after songs on the albums themselves. Have a Nice Day appears at the end of the first line of the third verse of "You Can't Put Your Arms Around What's Already Gone".
  • Alternate Music Video: There are two takes for "It Must Been Love". The original has them performing the song on a Swedish TV show with them singing on a couch at a stage, and the reissue has them singing the song at a warehouse with Marie switching on black, white, and nude-colored clothing. The reissue has two versions with the first one having movie clips of Pretty Woman and the second one having no clips and is exclusive at The Videos compilation tape.
  • Award-Bait Song: "It Must Have Been Love", which also counts as a Breakaway Pop Hit.
  • Boxed Set: The Rox Box, issued in 2006 as a 20th anniversary celebration.
  • Christmas Songs: "It Must Have Been Love" was originally a melancholic Christmas song added with with the subtitle "Christmas for the Broken Hearted". The Christmas references were omitted once the song was put on the Pretty Woman soundtrack, and this is the most known version of the song.
  • Cover Version: Heart Of Gold, I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) and So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star appeared in their "MTV Unplugged" set. Help! - recorded at Abbey Road! - was a B-Side to You Don't Understand Me.
  • Determinator/Plucky Girl: After her struggle with cancer, Marie could no longer read or count, was blind in one eye and had some loss of movement in her right side. This did not stop her from performing a full world tour with the band, though she had to give up playing live.
  • Driven to Suicide: The "Anyone" music video features a character who decides to leave her hotel room, walks along streets to the beach, and decides to drown herself. She is later rescued by the medic.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Pearls of Passion was pretty much a pure dance-pop album, without any of the rockier elements and guitars that would give their subsequent albums more grit and punch. It only charted in their native Sweden and doesn't have much popularity within their fanbase.
  • Face on the Cover: The band is shown back to back on the cover of Joyride. Have a Nice Day also qualifies, even if Per is covering his mouth with his hands.
  • Greatest Hits Album: One of their best known ones acknowledged the catchy qualities of their songs with the title, Don't Bore Us, Get To The Chorus!
  • Intercourse with You: While rare compared to the songs about love and general happiness that make up the majority of the band's oeuvre, there are some examples of this too, "Sleeping In My Car" probably being the most obvious. Even "The Look" is laced with some Does This Remind You of Anything?.
  • MacGyvering: "Here Comes The Weekend" uses a suitcase for percussion - there were no drums available, as the song was recorded in a hotel room.
  • Never Trust a Title: "Crash! Boom! Bang!" is actually a slow ballad.
  • New Sound Album: Have a Nice Day veered into this territory, the uptempo songs in particular featuring a lot more electronic instrumentation than the fans were accustomed to.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The title track of the album "Crash! Boom! Bang!" is a ballad. Not even one of Roxette's signature power ballads (see below), but an honest-to-goodness ballad, in 3/4 time and with violins.
  • Power Ballad: A staple of the band's oeuvre. "Listen To Your Heart" is a pretty well-known example. Per Gessle has explained that it was intended to be a homage to the FM radio tunes that were big in America during the eighties.
  • Prefers Going Barefoot: Marie often performed barefoot, as documented in the "Listen to Your Heart" video.
  • Rearrange the Song:
    • "It Must Have Been Love" came back in a country-tinged remake for the "Tourism" album.
    • "Travelling" features both guitar-heavy and synth-heavy mixes of "It's Possible", creatively labeled "Version 1" and "Version 2".
    • "Soul Deep" off Pearls Of Passion was remixed and included on Joyride.
    • "The Look" was remade in 2015 with a more electronic sound.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Singer Name Drop: Done in "Joyride". Also the first thing heard in "Dance Away".
  • The '60s: The video to "June Afternoon" is one long homage to the decade.
  • Sleeps in the Nude: The music video "Stars" opens with the vocalist Marie Fredriksson waking up and covering herself with Modesty Bedsheet before getting dressed by her maids in the following scene.
  • Super Group: At least to Swedes of a certain age. Marie was already a successful solo artist, and Per had been the frontman of New Wave Music band Gyllene Tider before they formed Roxette.
  • The Band Minus the Face: After Marie had to stop touring on medical advice, Per Gessle has continued to perform concerts as "Per Gessle's Roxette" with Marie's blessing.
  • Titled After the Song: Named for Motley Crue's song "Roxette".
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Spending My Time", "Fading Like a Flower".
  • Unplugged Version: The MTV Unplugged appearance, eventually released as a DVD.
  • Vocal Tag Team: While the original intent was for Marie to sing lead vocals on most of the songs, in practice Per also sang on some of their hits too including their breakthrough hit "The Look".
  • Word Salad Lyrics: More than a few times. All Music Guide actually praised Gessle's solo album for having Swedish lyrics - all the easier to ignore this little trait.
    • Most notably, the lyrics of "The Look" were actually guide lyrics (nonsense for them to sing just to get the rhythm of the vocals down while writing the song), only Per found himself unable to come up with anything better, so they just stuck with what they had.