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Renowned For Sound

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The Return of Roxette

8 min read

Back in the eighties when synth-fueled pop records and power ballads reigned supreme, there was one band that was a step ahead of the rest. That band’s name was Roxette.

Consisting of singer Marie Fredriksson, with her distinctive and impeccably emotive vocals and signature cropped bleach blonde hair and Per Gessle, the man behind the music and the engine behind the Roxette machine.

After almost 25 years as one of the worlds most successful bands, Roxette are in the studio again and have recently stepped back into the international spotlight after a seven year live hiatus with a number of European dates throughout Russia, Norway and Denmark as well as a very special upcoming performance in their hometown of Halmstad and Renowned For Sound’s Editor Brendon couldn’t miss the opportunity to catch his favorite band perform a set of their greatest hits on 14th August 2010.

Prior to the event we thought it only appropriate to give a brief background to one of the most incredibly talented acts to grace the music industry over the past 30 years.

Formed in 1986 in Halmstad, Sweden, both Fredriksson and Gessle were highly successful artists in their own right. Fredriksson was climbing the charts with her solo career while Gessle fronted the Swedish band Gyllene Tider as well as beginning his own solo career. After a suggestion within the Capitol Records vine that the two get together to record, the newly formed Roxette released their first single in 1986 titled Neverending Love which went on to sell over 50,000 copies in Sweden and led to the recording of their first full length record, Pearls of Passion.

After a number of European released singles the band struck gold with their next album, Look Sharp. Taken back to the US by an exchange student who had heard The Look being played on Swedish radio, he sent the record to a local radio station because he loved what he had heard and Look Sharp shot straight to the top spot in America and around the world and produced the enormous single’s The Look, Listen To Your Heart, Dressed For Success and Dangerous.

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The band instantly became one of the most loved pop acts in the world with the infectious hooks and chorus’ throughout Look Sharp and every album the duo subsequently produced. Releasing hook laden singles was what Roxette became most known for.

After the release of Look Sharp the pair were asked to compose a song for an upcoming film called Pretty Woman which starred Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Rewording a song which was originally featured and released as a Christmas themed single on the duo’s debut album, It Must Have Been Love was chosen and has since become one of the most iconic soundtrack ballads. An incredible vocal performance by Fredriksson won the world over and garnished the band with numerous awards.

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Following the success of Look Sharp and It Must Have Been Love, Roxette returned to the studio to record the follow up to Look Sharp, Joyride. Spawning the singles Joyride, Fading Like A Flower, The Big L, Church Of Your Heart and the utterly sublime Spending My Time. Joyride further cemented the band as one of the world’s greatest acts.

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Spending the best part of two years on the road the band released a live album titled Tourism in 1993 containing acoustic performances of some of the bands hits, new tracks and live versions taken from the bands Join The Joyride! World Tour. The band continued their trend of churning out amazing hits with the singles How Do You Do and the incredible ballad Almost Unreal which featured on the soundtrack to the film, Super Mario Bro’s and following these releases the bands fifth studio album, Crash! Boom! Bang! saw its release in 1994 and featured, most notably, the hit title track as well as Sleeping In My Car, Run To You and Vulnerable.

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The band took time out after the release of Crash! Boom! Bang! to concentrate on family and other projects however never split up. Between 1995 and 1998 the duo released the multi-million selling greatest hits album Don’t Bore Us, Get To The Chorus and the Spanish sung Balladas En Espanol, a record of twelve of the bands most loved ballads for their committed and enormous South American fan-base.

1999 saw Roxette back in the studio and the release of their sixth studio album, Have A Nice Day. With a new techno pop sound the album received mixed reviews, claiming that the band were too adventurous in creating dance numbers and techno tinged tracks. The album did however see the bands popularity increase after the release of the collections first single, Wish I Could Fly, made an impact in the UK charts. Further singles Salvation, the heartfelt Anyone and the techno stomper Stars all made moderate dents in the European market however unfortunately failed to chart outside of Scandanavia.  A shame for a record that I consider my favorite and the most moving Roxette release to date. Anyone who hasn’t heard Have A Nice Day would be encouraged to. The band also continued their long term partnership with music director and friend Jonas Akerlund. Akerlund found fame as being the music director for Roxette and has directed 11 Roxette videos to date as well as 2 of Marie’s solo videos and 3 of Per’s solo videos and has gone on to direct videos for Madonna (Ray of Light, Music, Celebration, American Life), Pink, U2 and Lady Gaga (Paparazzi and Telephone).

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Room Service followed in 2001 and carried the hits The Centre Of The Heart, Real Sugar and the power ballad, Milk And Toast And Honey. The album unfortunately didn’t create the same buzz that previous Roxette releases had made but is considered a commercially successful record for the duo.

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Soon after the release of the bands Ballad Hits record which featured the amazing single, A Thing About You (to later be followed by the Pop Hits collection and the single, Opportunity Nox), Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the Roxette wagon was put on permanent hold. After years of treatment and the removal of the tumor, Fredriksson made a progressive recovery however now suffers from permanent damage to her brain as well as losing the ability to read and count, some loss of movement in her right side and the vision in her right eye.

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During Roxette’s hiatus, Per focused on his solo career, releasing a number of highly successful records in both Swedish (Mazarin and En Handig Man) and English (Son Of A Plumber and Party Crasher) and saw Gessle’s return to the UK on 5th May 2009 at London’s Islington Academy while promoting his latest solo offering Party Crasher. Fredriksson also returned to the studio to record her first solo English record, The Change, her first recording since her illness and recovery.

Before long the two began getting itchy feet and were soon back in the studio with a box set greatest hits and singles release titled The RoxBox which featured the new tracks One Wish and Reveal.

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As 2009 approached the band were asked to headline the successful touring spectacle, Night Of The Proms which saw the band perform together through Europe for the first time in over 8 years. Lucky enough to attend three of these performances, I witnessed Roxette in top form as they sang five songs from their back catalogue as a way to help Fredriksson become strong and confident enough to commit to a full blown Roxette concert. The five songs the duo performed on the tour were Wish I Could Fly, Joyride, The Look, Listen To Your Heart and It Must Have Been Love.

Now in 2010 Roxette have announced a select few dates throughout Europe to unleash the hits that the duo have so perfectly composed and become so famous for over these past 25 years with the possibility of a soon to be world tour. The distinct hooks and instantly recognizable Roxette ‘sound’ is back on the road.

The duo could have done no wrong over two decades having achieved what most bands can only dream of. Roxette are Sweden’s biggest export after pop juggernaut ABBA with the massive selling albums Look Sharp, Joyride, Crash! Boom! Bang! and Have A Nice Day. Fredriksson has given us one of the most incredible female voices in music that is colored by pure perfection and laced with genuine sincerity on every single song she delivers. Mix that with a songwriter and musician that has the ability to write such a breathtaking catalogue of hits that span three decades and you have yourself a winning formula.

The duo have been responsible for an incredible number of hits. They have had a staggering nineteen Top 40 UK singles and four US Number 1 singles – The Look, Listen To Your Heart, Joyride and It Must Have Been Love. The duo also scored two US Number 2 singles with Dangerous and the gorgeous power ballad, Fading Like A Flower.

The band have sold well over 50 million records to date and now, with the reunion underway and a new studio album set for early 2011, there will be a lot more of Roxette to come and I for one intend on being there, front row, for the next amazing joyride.