Roxette – The Look

Roxette is back together and on the road…

“Having a number one record in American will change your life,” says Per Gessle, the guitarist, co-vocalist and songwriting hub of veteran Swedish band Roxette. “The thing is that you can never guess how.”

Gessle should know. In their original heyday at the end of the 1980s, when Roxette were Abba’s successors as Sweden’s chart-topping international export, Gessle and peroxided frontwoman Marie Fredriksson had four number one singles in America (and numerous other countries) with The Look, Listen to Your Heart, It Must Have Been Love and Joyride. Chances are you can hum one or more of their commercially uncompromising hits with only minimal prompting. {…}

Gessle and Fredriksson first met when their respective groups shared rehearsal space, and both enjoyed sizable success in Sweden with various projects before they joined forces in 1986 as Roxette and vowed to pursue international success by singing in English. {…}

“We were 28 and 29 when Roxette broke through, so we had had success in Sweden for almost 10 years – we knew how the business works and radio and music publishing,” Gessle says. “So in that respect we knew how to not make the big, big mistakes.”

It was not excess that stopped Roxette, but illness. In 2002 Fredriksson underwent surgery and a long chemotherapy regime after a malignant brain tumour was discovered. Doctors put her chances of living at 5 per cent but she held on, and in the years afterwards slowly returned to music, eventually joining Gessle in stage in Amsterdam during his solo show in 2009 for an impromptu Roxette performance that became a fully-fledged reunion.

“I never expected Roxette to come back and it was totally her decision,” Gessle says. “Even then we started slow, but Marie got into it. And the way she was singing a few days ago, when we toured Finland, I have never heard from her before. It’s truly remarkable. Performing has been the best rehab for Marie.”

Roxette’s profile has rebounded, outgrowing the usual nostalgia circuit. Gessle took great pride in 2011’s She’s Got Nothing On (But the Radio), a hit that put his work on playlists alongside the current pop stars whose songwriters of choice are Swedish hitmakers such as Max Martin and Shellback. The worst thing that could happen to Roxette, in Gessle’s eyes, is coasting…

What’s on your mind tonite…?