It was on Valentine’s Day in 2016 when It Must Have Been Love’s official video reached 100 million views on YouTube. Now 4.5 years later we are celebrating 500 million views! Half a billion! Amazing! That’s almost 1,475,695 days (4,043 years!) of playing the video constantly.
IMHBL is definitely Roxette’s biggest hit and what a history it has! Even if Roxette’s debut album became double platinum in Sweden, it wasn’t released abroad. EMI in Germany said they should write a Christmas song, then they might get airplay on the radio. Per went home and wrote It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted). It was a big song in Sweden in 1987, but it wasn’t even released in Germany. The first video to the song was made for a Swedish chart show, Listan and was later used as a semi-official clip.
One day, after Roxette broke through in the US, they were having lunch with their record company in Los Angeles. The record label said they signed a contract for a soundtrack to a movie then called 3000 Dollars. Julia Roberts was to debut in that film and it was a comeback for Richard Gere. It was said to be a low budget movie for which they wanted Per to write a song. Roxette was travelling a lot, so Mr. G didn’t have the time to write a song, but he said he has a Christmas song that Marie sings beautifully and he can re-write the text and take away the Christmas reference in it. So Christmas day became winter’s day. Then they partly re-recorded the song and sent it to Garry Marshall, director of Pretty Woman. Per and Marie were already working on the Joyride album when they got a call in the studio in Stockholm. It was Garry Marshall himself who called Per to tell him he loved the song so much he even re-edited the movie, because he didn’t want any dialogue during the song being played. He wanted the song to speak for itself. Someone once told Per he could have won an Oscar with IMHBL, but it couldn’t have happened, because the song wasn’t originally written for the movie. Anyway, it became a big hit. Big! Huge!
Of course, the song had to get a proper video and so the second clip which became the official one was shot in a warehouse. According to Marie, shooting the video was a weird experience:
The director wanted all movements in slow motion so I had to lip sync the vocals in double speed. My first lesson in how to sing an emotional ballad Mickey Mouse style. A strange way to make a living.
It Must Have Been Love became Roxette’s 3rd US No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1990 and spent 2 weeks at that position.
Per told about IMHBL in his Songs, Sketches & Reflections book:
It Must Have Been Love was written quite early on in the Roxette career, in the spring of 1987, and probably is the first example of my being about to find my style in English. But that as well contains some grammatical oddities. ”Lay a whisper on my pillow / Leave the winter on the ground / I wake up lonely, there’s air of silence”. That last line – ”there’s air of silence” – is a questionable phrase, so when English speaking artists cover the track, they often change that very line.
During my European solo tour in 2009, I also changed the first verse to ”I wake up lonely to the silence in the bedroom, it’s all around”. But otherwise I still like most of the lyrics, and a simple line like ”it’s where the wind blows, it’s where the water flows” still sets the right feeling and temperature, I think.
I read in an English magazine that the opening line of IMHBL – ”Lay a whisper on my pillow” – was an unusually beautiful metaphor, which I of course also thought when I wrote it. But such a line is completely depending on the fact that I’m navigating in a foreign language. It would never have hit me to write a line like ”Lay a whisper on my pillow” in Swedish. But it felt completely right in English.
Per says this is Marie’s song, he wrote it for her. It was a piece of cake for Marie to sing it and she was singing it magnificently. Always. Besides the official releases in four different versions, we could hear it on so many concerts on several tours live. No one else could and no one else will ever be able to sing this song the way Marie did. This is HER ballad, one of her signature songs. When you hear it, you immediately think of Marie. And that won’t ever change.