I have been a fan of Swedish pop duo Roxette for about as long as I can remember. My mother used to have a fairly decent collection of records and cassette tapes (yes, I was born in a time when the good old fashioned cassette tape was still cool). From the collection I remember sitting in my bedroom till the late hours listening to her old ABBA vinyl. ABBA was one of my first music obsessions but I think it was rummaging through my mums music collection that led me to discovering my first love, Roxette.
I remember that she had an old cassette tape of Look Sharp that I played to death. Whether it was in my room at full volume, on road trips with my friends, who were all into bands like Nirvana and Sublime at the time so had to endure this passion being played on repeat, this record was the best thing since sliced bread in my mind.
The bands early material formed the basis of my adoration for Roxette. Tracks like Spending My Time, It Must Have Been Love and Listen To Your Heart are deemed as power ballad classics the world over these days and rightfully so. It was, however, their 1999 ‘comeback’ album, Have A Nice Day that opened me up to a whole new level of musical appreciation.
Considered by many music critics at the time as a ‘flop’ for Roxette, this was quite the opposite for me. Even many Roxette fans consider Have A Nice Day to be one of Roxette’s most uninspiring releases.
I got an advance copy of Have A Nice Day prior to its release via an advanced copy lent to me by a music store in New Zealand. Though it was first presented to me in a very basic, slim, blue covered casing with only the words ‘Roxette – Have A Nice Day promo’ slapped across the front, its contents molded how I have felt about music ever since.
Some of the greatest ballads of the Roxette catalogue can be found on this album. Wish I Could Fly is the ‘big commercial ballad’ that fronted the record as its lead single. It achieved some decent mainstream success and even got the band onto the UK’s Top of the Pops and a spot performing for the Prince of Wales at Party in the Park in London’s Hyde Park back in 1999 but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Anyone is nothing short of spectacular. With a heart wrenching video to accompany the track showing a lone Marie Fredriksson making her journey from a Lisbon hotel to a beach where she disappears into the sea, the lyrics are goose-bump inducing and inspiring. Salvation is another of my favourite Roxette ballads. Lines like “I do believe in flowers on the moon, I’ll swim beside the golden tide” are captivating and showcase this band at their balladic and lyrical best. Though both Anyone and Salvation failed to relaunch the success that Roxette had enjoyed in the late 80’s and early nineties, in my opinion, both tracks sit up there with the likes of It Must Have Been Love and Listen To Your Heart.
The album closer, Beautiful Things, is heartbreaking to listen to as Marie tells of longing for someone just to speak with about whatever she is going through. This emotive theme sits over a gorgeous orchestral arrangement led by haunting cello’s and strings while It Will Take A Long Long Time provides the record with a catchy, mid-tempo track with an optimistic theme of ‘moving on’ running through its acoustically built form. This track was also lent to the Julia Roberts and Richard Gere rom-com Runaway Bride.
Have A Nice Day isn’t just all about the ballads though with numerous techno-inspired nuggets taking up a good section of this record. Crush On You was an instant favourite of mine with its infectious guitar riff driving the track and Per and Marie bouncing off each other’s energetic vocal deliveries, Per taking the verses and Marie bringing down the house in the chorus.
Stars was chosen as the token up-tempo single cut from the record. This one showed us exactly what Roxette were capable of doing when they ventured outside of their signature power-ballad comfort zones. Though Have A Nice Day as a whole was techno-coated, Stars showed a prominent change of direction for Roxette. Its children’s-choir chorus and Marie’s power-house vocal delivery are stunning and contrasting features within the tracks electronic and energetic construction.
The production of this record is also something that keeps you on the edge of your seat. To this day there are still things I hear that I hadn’t noticed before. Whether it is a subtle violin in the background, a triangle being ‘pinged’ or a backing vocal that is placed carefully in the distance, there is always something new to discover on Have A Nice Day. The balance of vocals and instruments have also been carefully weighed, allowing each to have their moments to shine, showcasing the very best of what Roxette are all about at just the right moments.
There isn’t one filler on Have A Nice Day. Each track compliments the other and there is something for everyone on this record. If you enjoy classic Roxette balladry then have a go at Salvation, Anyone, Wish I Could Fly or Beautiful Things. If its modern, up-tempo Roxette that you want to check out then give Crush On You, Stars or You Can’t Put Your Arms Around What’s Already Gone a whirl or perhaps some of the bands rockier hits are more your thing so Pay The Price, Staring At The Ground or 7Twenty7 might just be the tracks for you. Either way, this is a record that is so underrated yet should have catapulted Roxette back to a peak where these hit-makers deserve to remain. It’s been the most inspiring record in my life and I would encourage anyone to give this one a spin some time – you won’t regret it.
Top tracks: Anyone, Salvation, Beautiful ThingsBuy ‘Roxette – Have A Nice Day’ from Amazon