Book review: “I en underbar ballong”

I just finished reading “I en underbar ballong” (“In a wonderful balloon”), written by Maria Sörgjerd from Sweden and published by Fenomena. Maria, who studied psychology and music psychology, spent two years collecting information about being a fan and interviewing Roxette fans for her book.

I read the book quite fast, one of the reasons being the fact that I know most of the interviewed fans, even though most of them got aliases, if you’ve been around long enough you will recognize them and their stories. And of course, because I recognize, even if not relate to some of them, many of the topics which are treated in the book, being a fan myself.

The first part of the book is an introduction to what it means to be a Roxer and to go to a concert for the fans, meeting all the other fans and friends, but also fighting for the first row or meeting Per and Marie or the musicians after a concert. It also contains a short biography of Roxette & co, with comments of Roxette’s position in the music market and how Roxette is seen by the media and “outside”.

In the second part of the book, the author goes deeper in the psychological aspect of belonging to the fan(atic) subculture and having Per and Marie as idols. Not everything is a wonderful balloon though: some may take their fanatism to extremes of stalking, and there is also a lot of competition about who is first to break the news or who has met Per and Marie most times, jealousy and hostility among fans. It has become less with the years, but unfortunately, is still present.

Luckily, there are a lot of positive aspects as well, such as friendship and love stories – many found their best friends or their partners because of Roxette – and how fans help each other sharing videos, pictures and stories via fan communities, from the old times via Friendship Books to the internet era.

The last part of the book concentrates on music and how it affects our brain and feelings, and how music serves as therapy and makes us feel better in hard times and happier in happy times. The author comes to the conclusion that it’s not just the melodies that matter, but also the texts and voice, and has a special mention about Marie’s voice.

All in all an interesting book that should not be missing in the private library of a Roxette fan, both for fans who have been around for a long time and fans who recently joined the fun and want to understand the reason behind some rituals, behavior and stories and jokes. It might not be that interesting to read for “outsiders”, it may help other music psychologists and sociologists though, since the market lacks books like this.

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