Band Review: Roxette

Like many Americans listening to pop radio in the late 1980s, my first exposure to Roxette came through their breakout hit, “The Look.” The funny thing is, this song wasn’t originally meant to be released in the United States at all. But thanks to a foreign exchange student who convinced a radio station to play the song, the momentum for the song and the duo started to build, until the U.S. division of EMI Records was forced to release the Look Sharp! album stateside. I also enjoyed the other singles from this album: “Dressed for Success,” “Listen to Your Heart,” and “Dangerous.” My favorite singles were definitely “The Look,” since it sounded so different from anything else that was out at the time, and “Listen to Your Heart.” As a 14-year-old girl, something about “Listen to Your Heart” just grabbed me, and I still have a strong appreciation for that song today.

The next single I heard was “It Must Have Been Love,” the duo’s contribution to the Pretty Woman soundtrack; however, as I would later learn, it was actually a slightly re-worked version of a song they had originally released in Sweden back in 1987. Again, as a teen girl, the lyrics and the sound of the song just moved me.

About a year later, Roxette released the Joyride album. In the United States, the following singles were released: “Joyride,” “Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave),” “Spending My Time,” and “Church of Your Heart.” These songs continued in the pop vein of the Look Sharp! album, yet the duo seemed to take it to “the next level.” For me, whenever I hear “Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave),” I can still see the image from the video of the rose shattering against the pavement. “Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave)” and “Spending My Time” were my two favorite singles from the album. The overall album is actually very strong; in fact, to me, it’s still one of the strongest albums in Roxette’s catalog.

In the United States, the Tourism album was released in October 1992. It consisted primarily of live songs and songs recorded while on the road, although there were a couple of new songs included. In the United States, “How Do You Do!” was released as a single. I really liked the song, but unfortunately, the single didn’t perform well here. This was followed up a few months later by “Almost Unreal,” Roxette’s contribution to the Super Mario Bros. soundtrack. I really liked this song and wish it has received better attention from radio and music listeners in the U.S., but I think its connection to the movie ultimately hurt it.

In 1994, Roxette released the Crash! Boom! Bang! album, with the lead-off single, “Sleeping in My Car.” This was a fun, upbeat, poppy number, but it ultimately didn’t fare well. While it performed better than either “How Do You Do!” or “Almost Unreal,” it still fell far short of the successes of their earlier U.S. singles. And that was the last song I heard from them for a few years, and I had assumed the duo had disappeared.

But that perception would change in the later 1990s, after discovering on the Internet that Roxette was indeed still around and recording music, but that it wasn’t available in the United States. My husband had met someone over the Internet due to a mutual interest in the band Aqua, and it was through him that we learned about what Roxette had been up to since 1994. A greatest hits album was released in 1995, which included four new songs: “June Afternoon,” “You Don’t Understand Me,” “She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” and “I Don’t Want to Get Hurt.” “June Afternoon” and “She Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” are straight-up pop tracks, and are definitely worth the listen if you like Roxette. “The Look” was also remixed in 1995 and released as a single, and the remix breathes a whole new life into the song. In 1996, Roxette released Baladas En Espanol, where the duo recorded twelve of their ballads in Spanish. While this was a nice idea in theory, it ultimately didn’t work out so well. This has become one of the Roxette CDs that I hardly listen to.

1997 also saw Roxette re-release their original album, Pearls of Passion, and adding on some bonus tracks. My husband and I imported this item; we were curious to hear this material, since the Pearls of Passion album has never been issued in the United States. The material is nowhere near as polished as on the Look Sharp! album, but you can definitely see the beginnings of where the Look Sharp! and later material comes from.

In 1999, Roxette released their next album, Have a Nice Day, internationally. We imported a copy of this, as well as the singles from the album, and I’m glad we did. Have a Nice Day is a fantastic album. From the haunting sound of “Cooper,” to the rock of “7Twenty7,” to the Beatlesque “Waiting for the Rain,” to the electronic-driven “Stars,” to the straight-ahead ballad, “Wish I Could Fly,” there was quite a variety of sound on this album, but it worked and fit together well. It’s disappointing to me that this album was never able to be released in the U.S. However, Edel America did get the rights to the greatest hits album in 2000, and made some changes to the tracklist; some of the songs from the original pressing were removed, and “Wish I Could Fly” was added. Edel America attempted to promote “Wish I Could Fly” as a single. Unfortunately, Edel America ended up folding, and Roxette was once again without a label in the United States.

A couple of years later, Roxette released two new greatest hits albums internationally: The Ballad Hits, which focused on the ballads, and The Pop Hits, which focused on the uptempo pop tracks; both included bonus discs. The Ballad Hits contained two new songs, “A Thing About You” and “Breathe,” while the bonus disc included “The Weight of the World,” “See Me,” “It Hurts,” and “Every Day.” The Pop Hits contained two new songs as well: “Opportunity Nox” and “Little Miss Sorrow”; the bonus disc also included “Better Off on Her Own,” “Stupid,” “Bla Bla Bla Bla Bla (You Broke My Heart),” and “Making Love to You.” Of these, I enjoyed “A Thing About You,” “Opportunity Nox,” “Little Miss Sorrow,” “Better Off on Her Own,” and “Stupid.”

In 2006, Roxette released yet another greatest hits album, A Collection of Roxette Hits Their 20 Greatest Songs!, which included two new songs: “One Wish” and “Reveal.” Surprisingly, Capitol Records actually acquired the rights to release this album in the United States. I’m glad they did, because the two new songs are great, and this album also includes some of the songs from the albums that were never released in this country. It made me happy that at least some of this material that was unknown in the U.S. was finally released here.

In 2011, Roxette released an album titled, Charm School. My husband bought this album about a year or so ago, but I’ve only had the chance to listen to it once. Because of that, I don’t really have anything to say about it. At some point, I will need to sit down and listen to this album and write a review of it for the blog.

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