It all started in Liverpool, right after the second World War. The story of The Beatles, that is. Roxette, however, came out of Sweden in the late 80's. Roxette are Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, and their game is pop. With 31 chart-busting pop-singles, we feel assured enough to say that few play it better.
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They entered the cosmic consciousness with "The Look" in 1989, followed up with the über-platinum album "Joyride" in 1991, and have been on top of the charts somewhere in the world ever since. The constant flow of hit singles and albums have resulted in staggering record sales (40 million albums and 15 million singles) and world tours too big to mention.
Amazingly, in a time when most 80's artists rely on "greatest hits"-repackaging and nostalgia events, Roxette's seductive mix of tongue-in-cheek pop and sweepingly romantic ballads, sounds as fresh and effective as when they first stormed the airwaves. Their new album, "Room Service", boasts twelve new songs and melodies that will occupy the centre of your suburb or whatever. It's not a Greatest Hits-collection, it just sounds like one.
Marie and Per met in the laid-back West Coast town Halmstad in the late 70's, but individual success prevented them from "doing something together" in the following years. Per's former power-pop group Gyllene Tider is still one of Sweden's most loved acts, and Marie's impressive solo career gave her an equally solid platform. In 1986, they were ready to merge their creative forces. Per had the songs, Marie the voice. Together, they argued, they would be a match made in heaven. Fifteen years later, Roxette is still flying high. So, whether you were too young to be there, or too old to remember it now, here's what happened.
1986: After suggestion from EMI, Per and Marie finally realize their much talked about plan to work together and record one-off single ”Neverending Love” under the name Roxette. It becomes a big summer hit in Sweden. Marie is advised not to spoil her solo career by making pop music with Roxette. She decides to record with Roxette anyway. Songs originally planned for Per’s third solo album is used for Roxette’s debut album ”Pearls Of Passion”. It establishes the new duo in Sweden. ”Neverending Love” is a minor hit in Europe.
1987: Roxette tours Sweden, playing for 100.000 people in open-air festivals throughout the country. Marie squeezes in third solo album. ”Efter Stormen”, before Roxette’s Christmas single, ”It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted)”, dominates the Swedish airwaves.
1988: Roxette release second album, ”Look Sharp!” and tours Sweden again. The album is a triumph in Sweden, but a flop everywhere else. An American exchange student returns from Sweden and urges radio station KDWB in Minneapolis to play ”The Look”. From there, ”The Look” spread on cassette copies to other radio stations. Suddenly Roxette have a hit single in the USA – and the record isn't even released.
1989: EMI quickly release ”The Look” in the U.S.A. It races up to # 1 in March, and tops the charts in 24 other countries. In October they get their second US #1 with ”Listen To Your Heart”, and tours Europe. ”Look Sharp!” eventually sells 8 million copies worldwide.
1990: A rewritten ”It Must Have Been Love” (without the Christmas references) becomes Roxette’s third US #1 in June. It is taken from the soundtrack ”Pretty Woman”, which sells 9 million copies. (At the end of 2000, the song has been played 3.000.000 times in American radio, earning songwriter Gessle yet another hard-to-beat BMI Award.
1991: Roxette’s third album ”Joyride” is released. The title track is the first single and reaches the #1 position in the U.S.A. (and many other countries) in May. The ”Join The Joyride” World Tour starts in Helsinki on September 4. The band will play 108 concerts in Europe, Australia, U.S.A. and South America, before finishing in Stockholm on July 22nd 1992. By then over 1,7 million people have seen Roxette on stage. After the tour, ”Joyride” passes the 10 million-mark.
1992: ”How Do You Do!” is the hit single off Roxette’s fourth album ”Tourism”, a collection of live tracks and on the spot-recordings made during the World Tour. Marie picks up her solo career, releasing her fourth Swedish album, ”Den Ständiga Resan”, which sells platinum in Sweden.
1993: As the first non-English speaking band ever, Roxette plays MTV Unplugged. ”Almost Unreal”, the lead off track taken from the soundtrack ”Super Mario Bros”, is a summer hit in Europe.
1994: Roxette’s fifth album ”Crash! Boom! Bang!” is released in April, and includes hit singles ”Sleeping In My Car”, ”Run To You”, ”Fireworks” and the title track. Roxette kicks off second World Tour in the autumn and play 47 shows in Europe.
1995: The tour continues to South Africa, where Roxette are greeted by 130.000 South African fans. Australia, South East Asia and Japan are next. They also perform in Beijing’s Capitol Indoor Stadium, and 11.000 Chinese fans go crazy. In South America, the temperature reaches fever pitch.
In the autumn Roxette’s greatest hits-collection ”Don’t Bore Us – Get To The Chorus” is released and quickly becomes another multi-million seller. A re-formed Gyllene Tider plays on the new Roxette song ”She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, from the hits collection.
1996: Roxette chills out while Gyllene Tider makes historic comeback in the summer. Sweden capitulates completely, as the former teen-heroes conquer the country in the most successful tour of open air shows ever in Scandinavia. Sales of "Halmstads pärlor", a Gyllene Tider hits collection, reaches mind-blowing figures. More than 600.000 copies sold…and counting!
In the autumn, a Spanish-language album of Roxette's greatest ballads, ”Baladas En Espanol, is warmly received in all Spanish-talking countries. It becomes a platinum record in Spain and gold in Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and Chile.
1997: In the spring Per release ”The World According To Gessle”, a tough power-pop solo album. For the singles ”Do You Wanna Be My Baby?” and ”Kix” he recruits up-and-coming video director Jonas Åkerlund, whose innovative and controversial work causes much debate and interest (Madonna and Prodigy are quick to make phone calls).
1998: Roxette are ready to work again. In January they take off to El Cortijo, Spain, to start recordings for their sixth album of new material, ”Have A Nice Day”. After a summer break, recordings continue in the autumn. It is finished by November. Thoughts of releasing "The Centre Of The Heart " as a single are dropped in the last minute, since the song is deemed too out-of-sync with the rest of the album. Instead, the potential hit single is put in the can. Lucky old can, we say.
1999: The first single, ”Wish I Could Fly”, is released on February 1st and becomes a major European hit. "Have A Nice Day" is released, including sizeable hits as "Anyone", "Stars" and "Salvation". Per and Marie spend the best part of 1999 promoting the record around the world.
2000: New millennium, new year, new songs. In the spring, Marie sums up her solo career with triple-platinum selling collection "Äntligen", with title track becoming instant radio hit. Makes triumphant summer tour of Sweden before returning to the Roxette camp. Hot on the heels of "Have A Nice Day", Roxette starts recording for new album, "Room Service", in the autumn. This time they decide to stay in Stockholm. Band wades through new songs and leftovers from last album. A firm decision to keep the album short and snappy leads to the inclusion of twelve new songs, once again leaving a bunch of potential hits in the can. Band records inspired video at legendary California hotel Madonna Inn, once again directed by Jonas Åkerlund.
2001. A speeded-up and re-recorded "The Centre Of The Heart " is the first single off "Room Service". It was sent to radio stations in February and record-shops in March. In Sweden the single was premiered at the annual Song Contest. In April, Roxette's seventh studio album, "Room Service", was released. For several weeks it has been the third most sold album in Europe. “Room Service” is close to adding another million to the 40 million albums Roxette has already sold during their 15 year career.
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