An evening for Marie Fredriksson

Gothenburg, Sweden, 20th January 2020. Stora Teatern. I don’t know how many times I was walking past this theatre over the years whenever I was in Gothenburg. Since I’m a fan of theatres, I sometimes checked the schedule outside on the wall to see what plays they have to offer. I never thought that it would be a totally different event when I once sit in the audience in that building. At a concert. A tribute concert. For Marie Fredriksson.

The event was organized by SVT and it was broadcast a few days later on TV. Now you can watch it HERE.

The theatre has the capacity of appr. 600 people in the audience. After the invitations were sent out, 10 days before the date a couple of remaining tickets went on public sale. The event got sold out very fast.

Rehearsals for the concert started 1 week before it happened and day by day we got to know more and more about what to expect and also who to expect to perform. First it was announced that friends and members of Sweden’s artist elite gather to celebrate Marie’s fantastic music act and the event, En kväll för Marie Fredriksson would feature songs from Marie’s and Roxette’s song catalogue under the direction of Christoffer Lundquist. From the performing artists Per Gessle was among the first ones announced and together with him a list of musicians who collaborated with Marie were also mentioned in articles: Clarence Öfwerman, Jonas Isacsson, Anders Herrlin, Micke Syd Andersson, Pelle Alsing, Dea Norberg and Staffan Astner. A few days before 20th January some more names were revealed: Eva Dahlgren, Lasse Lindbom, Linnea Henriksson, Agnes Carlsson, Petra Marklund, Maja Ivarsson, Helena Josefsson, Anne-Lie Rydé, Sanne Salomonsen and Maja Francis.

While already in Gothenburg the day before the event, we met some of the musicians and they all prepared us for the concert being very emotional. They said they are focusing very much on their playing instead of what is on the screen behind them, old pictures and videos in the background, not to lose it. They were all sad and enthusiastic at the same time. You could see it means a lot to them to be there and do this for Marie. Sad and enthusiastic, heartbroken and excited, I could identify with these mixed feelings so well. On one hand, it’s terrible to see these words in one sentence connected to each other: tribute, event, for Marie. It should have never happened, she should have never left us. Not so early! On the other hand, there were all these great artists, fab musicians all of them to perform in memory of a wonderful person we all love so much.

The band was a mix of Marie’s solo band and Roxette’s bands from several periods. When was the last time you could see Jonas Isacsson and Per Gessle on the same stage, for example? Pelle Alsing and Micke Syd on the drums next to each other. Eva Dahlgren singing her friend’s most beloved song, Sparvöga. Lasse Lindbom performing another big ballad of Marie, Ännu doftar kärlek. So many other wonderful artists and details there.

In the audience there were many well-known faces. Just to mention a few, Mats MP Persson, Magnus Börjeson, Sven Lindström, Göran Fritzon, Thomas Johansson, Kjell Andersson, Lars Nordin, Helena von Zweigbergk. And of course many fans who came not only from Sweden, but Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Spain.

SVT wanted the audience to arrive at 18:00 to make sure they pick up their tickets and find their seats in time to be able to start the recording at 19:00. By the time we got in, the stage was ready, the cameras were set. The theatre is beautiful on the inside. The first 2 rows were taken away because of the cameras and stage setting, so the 3rd row was the 1st. Cameras were all around. In the front, on the stage, above us. We could see Marie Dimberg, Åsa and Gabriel Gessle to arrive to their places on the first balcony level. Åsa kindly waved back to the friends and fans who recognized her.

Before the concert started, a guy from SVT came up on stage and gave some information about how the recordings would work. He said it would be a 1.5-hour-long show on TV and they try to record it altogether, but there would be pauses between the songs to set the stage for the next song. He kindly asked us not to clap before the songs, but of course we were welcome to give an applause to all the fantastic artists after they performed. He was nice enough to tell some words in English too, knowing that there were several international fans.

After some directions for the light and sound technicians, as well as the camera men, the guy disappeared and it all started with Kattis Ahlström (Swedish journalist and TV presenter) coming up on stage, talking about Marie and introducing the gala. They recorded 3 takes of this intro. Kattis told that on 9th December 2019 we lost one of our absolute biggest and most beloved stars. Marie had a unique voice recognized not only in Sweden, but also all around the world. For over 40 years she was singing and writing songs that became part of our lives. No one else could write lyrics that could comfort us and give us hope. She could also describe the meaning of life and melancholy. But she could also laugh, dance, party and rock ’n’ roll. Kattis said there would be Marie’s friends, her musicians and some of Sweden’s best artists on stage. She also said there are many friends, colleagues and fans from around the world in the audience and she promised a very special evening.

Then the concert started. With which song? Tro. How the choir, Solid Gospel appeared on stage, Clarence started playing the keyboards and a young girl, Agnes Sarafian started singing, I lost it already at the beginning and burst out into tears with many others in the audience. It was such a touching version and a very strong start into the show.

The next performer was Linnea Henriksson, a Halmstad-born singer-songwriter whom most fans know from 2013 as she was the support act during the Gyllene Tider tour. She is a popular artist in Sweden and Marie was an inspiration to her. Actually, Marie had an impact on so many people’s lives. No matter if you are an artist or not, if you bumped into her or listened to her music, she never let you forget her. Linnea’s version of Efter stormen sounded great and you could hear she was so touched.

Between the songs there were short videos from Marie’s old interviews, performances, also pictures from the past appeared. The reporter in the docu part said it’s fascinating how some artists become more than their music. Marie was one of those artists who were not just recognized, but you could also look up at her. In an old video Marie says truth is important to her. She can’t hide her feelings. We probably didn’t know Marie Fredriksson. She was very private when she was off stage, but when you went to the concerts or listened to her songs it felt like she is a friend. In another old interview she says her heart is beating for the weak in society. When she was a little girl, she already thought back then that one has to help others. One can’t only think of oneself. It’s a natural feeling to her towards people. It has always been. She says she got letters where people wrote they didn’t feel alone anymore, her songs helped them. Marie sang better than most of the singers, but not only that. It never mattered in which genre she was singing, she could fill the melodies and lyrics with real emotions.

Ett hus vid havet, another beloved Marie ballad was next, performed by three ladies, Helena Josefsson, Dea Norberg and Maja Francis. I couldn’t hold my tears back again, thinking of Marie singing it on her solo tour just 6 years ago. When she made us all smile with her måsarna and båtarna and sang ”och göra som jag vill” with a strong emphasis. Unforgettable. The trio did a fab job, their voices fit together perfectly.

There was a short video interview with Petra Marklund next. She told she discovered Marie, an amazing artist when in their music class they got to perform Tro. The song is still so actual. From that day Marie became a big source of inspiration to her. She feels honoured to be here and sing.

After 3 Marie solo songs it was time for a Roxette power ballad, Listen To Your Heart. Thinking of the fact that we will never ever hear it again from our dear Marie… I know, I know… We already knew we wouldn’t hear it live again from her since 2016, but still. Now it is 100% sure and it breaks one’s heart. Petra Marklund was singing it in her own style, not trying to imitate Marie.

A short video docu part was coming again showing old pics and videos from Strul through Marie’s solo career to Roxette. The reporter said Marie loved to sing and perform on stage, but whenever the mic was changed to an interview microphone, she became shy and cautious. Media was never really her thing. On stage she became a supernova again. It was great to hear Miss Effe’s vocal range in this part.

Sparvöga, one of, if not the most important songs to Marie was definitely one of the biggest highlights during the event. Marie’s long-time friend, Eva Dahlgren singing it in her own style was heart-warming and heart-rending at the same time. Eva wrote on her Instagram that she has probably never cried so much backstage as on this gala. She could barely sing and she was holding Marie’s mic stand so tight. Everything is still unreal to her and will remain so.

Roxette came next. Things Will Never Be The Same was performed by Maja Francis. I’ve never heard about this girl before, but from the short video interview before the song it turned out Maja met Marie appr. 10 years ago when she moved to Stockholm. She was a classmate of Marie’s sister’s son and they were hanging out together. When she turned 20, they were out to eat something and she was asked if she could help Marie’s family out. She became a nanny, an assistant to Marie’s family for a year. They became Maja’s extra family and she always looked at Marie as a rock fairy. Marie taught her that one can be soft and tough at the same time. Maja said it’s tough to sing the song she goes up on stage with. She still hasn’t realized that Marie is gone. She is still here and she will be there when Maja is singing the song. She is everywhere. Maja did a special version of the song and Christoffer Lundquist was also singing on TWNBTS and he also sounded wonderful.

To my surprise, there was an interview with Efva Attling, also very close friend to Marie. This interview was not shown in the theatre, but it was done inside the theatre, probably backstage. It’s a nice addition. Kattis and Efva are standing in front of some of Marie’s paintings. Marie was interested in painting and her first exhibition was of charcoal drawings, then she started using colours. One of the drawings is very special to Efva. She was at a sunglasses fair in Paris when Eva Dahlgren (they are a couple) called her and told she bought a drawing at Marie’s exhibition. Title of the drawing is ”Kära Efva” (Dear Efva) and it of course portrays Efva. Efva tells she met Marie in 1981 when she was doing backing vocals for the Lasse Lindbom Band in Stockholm. She wanted to help Marie a little with her hairdo and make-up. They went to the dressing room and Efva took out scissors. Marie’s hairdresser said she shouldn’t show her eyebrows, but Efva liked them, so she cut Marie’s hair. Back then there was no hair mousse, so they used shaving cream and they created a cool hairdo. When they went out in town, she introduced her to everyone saying here is my new friend. She is from Halmstad and she is a fantastic singer. Marie only said Oh my God. Efva says Marie was so much love and she had such a good sense of humour. They laughed a lot, but they were also fighting sometimes, like real friends do. Efva says family was very important to Marie. She knew exactly when Marie fell in love. Once Marie told her she met Mikael Bolyos on a tour. Efva went on tour with Roxette to the US, that was her present when she turned 40. She went to San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Micke came to Los Angeles too and then Efva told Marie she will leave the room for them then. Haha. They went to a restaurant and Micke told Marie she should try the scampi. Marie agreed and then Efva knew she was in love, because she never ate seafood. Marie always said she is so thankful for her family. Efva finishes the interview with Marie’s words, ”Thank God for booze, make-up and hydrogen peroxide.”

Right after this there came a video interview with Anne-Lie Rydé who told she met Marie at Atlantis in Stockholm, a late night in 1982. They met in the ladies’ room and while Anne-Lie was looking into the mirror she heard from behind her Marie asking if she is Anne-Lie Rydé. Anne-Lie said yes, it’s her. And Marie introduced herself. Anne-Lie didn’t know what to say, because she was mad at Marie. She had no clue about who she was, but she had stolen a duet song Anne-Lie would have been making together with Lasse Lindbom. They recorded it, everything was done, but then she heard it on the radio and it was Marie singing. Anne-Lie just thought who the hell is Marie Fredriksson. So their first meeting was wonderful. One could never get angry with Marie. They became friends right then. The strongest musical memory is when they were on the Badrock tour in 1988, sitting on a little beach in Borgholm and Roxette was soon to release their next album. They hadn’t break through yet internationally, but they were huge in Sweden. Marie wanted to show Anne-Lie their new single and Anne-Lie thought it was such a good song. It was Dressed For Success. She said it feels good to perform this song here tonight with another fantastic woman on stage.

So the next one was Dressed For Success, performed by Anne-Lie Rydé and Sanne Salomonsen. They are still rocking and with all respect to Sanne, I was really grateful to her, because I could have a rest from all the tears I cried before. Once this recording took place, I found the fun part in the event too. There were 3 takes of this song. Anne-Lie started singing her part with full energy, she was amazing. Then Sanne entered the stage and she forgot the lyrics. Dea tried to help her out, but it took a bit of time until Sanne found her way back. She came to the front rocking, not really caring about the missing words. Actually, here I have to tell again what I already mentioned during the last Roxette tour that Dea is just amazing how she as a backing vocalist feels the vibes of all the artists and makes their performance even better. She immediately helps wherever she can. Her support is wonderful. Always was so supportive towards Marie too. After the first take of DFS, the same SVT guy who talked to us in the beginning came up on stage and told it was so good they would do another take of it. Anne-Lie stood at her place and started again with the same full energy as for the first take. Sanne came up on stage, but this time somehow she couldn’t enter the song at the right spot, so she stopped the recording and asked to start again. The SVT guy came and told they are happy to do a third take. We all laughed when Anne-Lie said she is not 60 anymore. Haha. But who cares, she still rocked it big time and the third take turned out to be fantastic. I was amazed that the typical DFS clapping choreography supported by Micke Syd and Dea in the background worked out so fine too, with the seated audience. And that during the third take was the strongest, so in the end it’s great they had to start it all again 3 times. I think we all needed that.

Marie’s great collaboration with Lasse Lindbom resulted in several wonderful songs. Actually, they wrote 26 songs together. Ännu doftar kärlek is one of them. The lead single of Marie’s debut solo album is one of the most beautiful ballads, still played on weddings all around Sweden for example. Pictures of couples were shown in the background. Couples of all possible combinations. Because love is love. Lasse was there to perform this song. He was moved you could see and hear it. He started it alone, with a guitar in his hand, the band playing and later Linnea Henriksson also appeared to sing the second half together.

The next performer was Maja Ivarsson, Swedish singer and lead vocalist of the indie rock band The Sounds. In the short video interview with her she told about her band’s break-through in the US and that one blonde already did that before and it was Marie Fredriksson. Marie had a big impression on Maja, she always thought Marie is a fantastic singer, she had great stage presence and she is a fantastic songwriter. That they all miss in Sweden these days. She thinks Marie was a very cool chick with attitude on stage. When Maja entered the stage, she went to the mic stand and said it was Marie’s, but now it’s hers. I’ve never heard of her before and this way I never heard her singing, but how she performed Sleeping In My Car, oh wow. She ruled the stage, the mic, the audience. At the end she dropped the mic and it was absolutely cool. A real rocker! After the event I read in articles that it was Per who picked her to perform SIMC. Good choice, I would say.

In a short video before the next song, Dea Norberg and Christoffer Lundquist were talking about being on tour with Roxette and the hundreds of hours they spent backstage with Marie, singing together, warming up for the concerts. Dea says she has always been impressed by Marie’s strength and power. Chris says she impressed many people around her, also the fans. She was so present all the time. The duo performed an energetic version of Om du såg mej nu. Marie wrote this song to her father who died prior to her achieving any success.

There came a docu block again, showing old footage of Marie receiving awards and talking about the ’80s and ’90s, her balancing between Per’s pop hits in English and her more personal Swedish solo albums, the break-through, the 4 US No. 1’s. The energy in a sold-out stadium with a sing-along crowd is one of the most powerful things. Probably that was one of the things that made her come back after years of illness and rehabilitation, to travel around the world with Roxette again. It was the stage where she felt the most at home. And although we probably didn’t really know Marie, it seems she knew the audiences well. In an old interview she says music is what she lives for, it’s her way of conveying what she feels.

Per Gessle. The time has come. And it was the hardest time for all. Per entering the stage, stepping to his place, a mic stand next to him without Marie behind it and an old pic of Marie and Per shown in the background. The saddest moments during the whole event. There was no way to hold the tears back when Per started singing It Must Have Been Love. With only an acoustic guitar played by him and Christoffer accompanying him. The pause after the first chorus also had its depressing effect on me. Then the background changed to dark with lights like stars over there and Agnes Carlsson walked in. The only song I knew from Agnes was Release Me. I never thought she had such an amazing, powerful voice for ballads. She was not trying to imitate Marie at all, but her voice was the closest to Miss Effe’s. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for her to step into Marie’s place in this song, but she did it with all respect and humility. It was heart-breaking to see Per on stage while Agnes was singing. His facial expressions said it all. And the tears were just falling from my eyes. Another song that reminded me that we won’t ever hear it in the way we loved it the most. Per looking at Marie or putting his hand on Marie’s shoulder before she started singing ”Lay a whisper…”, like they did on all concerts during the past tours. A touch that won’t ever happen again, a voice we won’t ever hear live again, two most beloved people we will never see standing next to each other again. The applause at the end of the song was so loud. It deserved it.

After IMHBL Per stayed on stage, changed the guitar and performed their first US No. 1 hit. The song they broke through with internationally. Helena and Dea also came to the front for The Look. I loved the way they entered, hugging Per, ensuring him he can count on their support. And do I have to mention it was fantastic to have Jonas Isacsson there? THE king of riffs indeed. Amazing! The continuous clapping by the audience, still on during the fake ending… it was overwhelming. Goosebumps! Then Per and Chris playing their guitars like they do on tours, back to back to each other, enjoying the vibes, it was lovely to see them so. Per said thanks to the audience after the song and went off stage while the crowd was still clapping loudly for a longer time.

The planned ending of the concert for the TV broadcast was how it started, with Solid Gospel on stage. We could hear Marie’s original vocals and the choir joined in. They performed a wonderful version of Den bästa dagen. No dry eyes at this point either.

The event should have ended, but then Christoffer told the recording for TV is over, but they thought they would perform an extra song for the crowd. The musicians on stage played it with Roxette on tour, but never at the same time, since they are parts of the band from different eras. He asked Clarence to start it. The extra was Fading Like A Flower and Helena and Dea performed it. Guitar solos were played by Chris, Staffan and Jonas and there was a crowd singalong too. I saw the cameras were still recording it and hoped for it to appear on TV too, if not as part of the broadcast, then maybe as an extra video. Fortunately, it still fit in the schedule, so it’s available for everyone to watch at the very end of the video. It was worth recording and sharing it, because it was a great version.

After the extra song we all got up from our seats in the audience and gave a very well-deserved standing ovation. It lasted for minutes. All in all it was a magical evening, an extremely emotional tribute to our dear Marie Fredriksson. Hats off to all the artists, musicians, the choir, the technicians, the band’s crew, the TV crew, the theatre staff for making it happen and for Christoffer an extra hats-off for the arrangements.

It was hard for all the artists who have always been close to Marie to be there and perform. Some of them I already mentioned above and I have to add Anders Herrlin who was there on stage during the whole concert, playing the bass in the front, being the most visible next to the performers and Christoffer. It must have been tough for him, you could see the emotions on his face all the time. Clarence, Pelle, Micke Syd, Staffan and Jonas were less visible, having their spots a bit further in the back, but their musical addition to the concert showed they were also moved. Seeing them on TV you can sense they had a hard time too. It was probably also tough for those who were maybe not so close to Marie, but had her as an inspiration, to kind of step into her place and sing her songs. For the audience it was difficult too. But as tough as it was, it was so beautiful at the same time. Not wanting to use any clichés, but it really felt like we are one big family. One could feel that huge dose of love spreading on and off stage.

Many asked if Marie’s family was there. I didn’t see them and I’m sure it would have been too much for them in their pain, but whenever they will decide to watch the TV version, I’m sure they will also feel the love and magic we all felt there.

The most emotional songs for me were: Tro, Sparvöga, It Must Have Been Love and Den bästa dagen. Per said in a radio interview the day after the event that it felt like a farewell. It did feel like that indeed. But Marie lives on. In our hearts, ears and minds forever. The most awesome singer on Earth and beyond won’t ever be forgotten.

Setlist

  1. Tro (Solid Gospel)
  2. Efter stormen (Linnea Henriksson)
  3. Ett hus vid havet (Helena Josefsson, Dea Norberg and Maja Francis)
  4. Listen To Your Heart (Petra Marklund)
  5. Sparvöga (Eva Dahlgren)
  6. Things Will Never Be The Same (Maja Francis and Christoffer Lundquist)
  7. Dressed For Success (Anne-Lie Rydé and Sanne Salomonsen)
  8. Ännu doftar kärlek (Lasse Lindbom and Linnea Henriksson)
  9. Sleeping In My Car (Maja Ivarsson)
  10. Om du såg mej nu (Dea Norberg and Christoffer Lundquist)
  11. It Must Have Been Love (Per Gessle and Agnes Carlsson)
  12. The Look (Per Gessle – with Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg)
  13. Den bästa dagen (Marie Fredriksson and Solid Gospel)

Extra

  1. Fading Like A Flower (Helena Josefsson and Dea Norberg)

 

All pictures in the article are stills from the event broadcast on SVT.

You can watch the video on SVT Play until 23rd July 2020.

SVT’s tribute event for Marie Fredriksson

According to the press release, friends and members of Sweden’s artist elite gather at Stora Teatern in Gothenburg on 20th January to celebrate Marie Fredriksson’s fantastic music act in connection with her passing away on 9th December 2019.

The event, En kväll för Marie Fredriksson, features songs from Marie’s and Roxette’s song catalogue under the direction of Christoffer Lundquist. We get to hear memories and stories from a long career and see treasures from the archives showing the rising of a world star.

The event is a collaboration between Stora Teatern and SVT, which will also broadcast the tribute concert. The host will be Kattis Ahlström.

– We at SVT look forward to celebrating Marie Fredriksson’s unique work for Swedish music. She and Per Gessle put Sweden back on the musical world map through Roxette’s success around the world, and Marie’s own songs are still played today on dates, weddings and other festive occasions. It will be nice to give back a little in connection with the concert evening, says Christina Hill, SVT program manager.

A few tickets were released to the public on Friday, 10th January and the event got sold out fast.

The concert starts at 19:00 on 20th January, but all who can’t be there in person will be able to watch it, or at least a 1.5-hour-long cut on SVT1 at 21:00 CET on 25th January. SVT states it will be available worldwide.

According to SVT, Per Gessle and other artists who worked together with Marie will perform at the event.

Göteborgs-Posten informs that names of other artists will be announced next week. Performing artists will be backed by a band that can almost be described as a mix of Roxette and Gyllene Tider. Clarence Öfwerman, Christoffer Lundquist, Jonas Isacsson, Anders Herrlin, Micke Syd Andersson, Pelle Alsing, Dea Norberg and Staffan Astner are confirmed to be there.

Still is from “Tack för musiken” (SVT)

Update on 17th January 2020: Eva Dahlgren, Lasse Lindbom, Linnea Henriksson, Agnes, Petra Marklund and Maja Ivarsson will also perform at the event.

Per Gessle on Top 2000 in the Netherlands

There was a short interview with Per today about The Look on Top 2000 (Dutch music program). The program is available in the Netherlands only, but hopefully, they will soon upload it to their YouTube channel as well.

The interview was done on 19th November at Baggpipe Studios (the old EMI studio) in Stockholm. Per tells they recorded a lot of Roxette songs there and shows the place where e.g. Jonas Isacsson was sitting, playing the guitar, where the drums were, etc. Per says it’s a magical place for him.

Mr. G thinks Pearls of Passion was a good album, but he wanted Roxette to be a bit more programmed, digital and modern. There was a conflict between him and the original producer of Look Sharp!, because the producer wanted to use his favourite musicians. Per was lucky in the end, because their engineer broke his leg and they got another engineer. He was an amazing porgrammer and digital guy. He, Per and Clarence wanted Roxette to go to the computer world. Per bought a synthesizer with a sequencer and started learning how to use that. He wrote The Look on it. 3 chords, 1 finger. It was written for Marie, that’s why he was singing ”he’s got the look” in the demo. Marie liked the demo, but said she can’t sing it, because there is no melody. It’s almost like rap. But then she said ”I can sing the nanana part and I can do the answering in the choruses”.

Per was against releasing it as a single, because the whole idea behind Roxette was that Marie was going to sing the songs and Per was the main songwriter. So in Per’s world it didn’t really make sense to release it as a single.

In 1988 there was an American exchange student in Sweden and he became a big Roxette fan. He moved back to Minneapolis and on his favourite radio station, KDWB there was a show where listeners can call in and ask for their favourite songs or they can leave their records there. He went there and gave them the Look Sharp! album. It was lying around for a couple of weeks and he went back to pick it up again. The program director was there at the reception and thought that’s a really cool album cover. Because it looks like a magazine. So he put on the album and the first song was The Look. He thought this is an amazing song. He put it on air and as soon as he did so, the phone started to ring and people were asking what’s that. They rush released the single because it was all over the radio and it took 8 weeks until it became No. 1. It changed their lives of course.

Per explains all the Nordic countries have great traditional melodies. That’s in their DNA. If you listen to old classic Swedish songs from the 19th century, it’s very beautiful melodies and they grew up listening to that kind of music. You can hear it in ABBA’s music, you can hear it in Per’s music.

That particular Roxette sound was created in the old EMI studio, in Stockholm, with Swedish people. EMI in the US wanted them to move to Los Angeles or at least to New York or at least to London, to be part of the international music scene. But they said no, because if they moved to Los Angeles, they would have sounded like Richard Marx or what was happening at the time in the US. Roxette sounds special because it was made in Sweden.

Still is from the interview.

Thanx for the technical support, Ludo van Denderen! (Until the original video is available on the Top 2000 YouTube channel, you can watch Ludo’s recording of it HERE.)

Update on 13th February 2020: Top 2000 a gogo uploaded the video to YouTube.

Det svenska popundret – The Swedish Pop Phenomenon

2 months ago SVT broadcast a documentary about modern Swedish music’s journey around the world. I just had the time now to watch it and since many fans asked for translation, I thought I would summarize it for them. The part with Roxette in it has a more detailed summary, of course.

The documentary consists of 6 episodes and one can follow how the music industry, music consumption, production and spreading music changed over the decades. It’s a real high quality docu including a lot of information not only about Roxette, but many other Swedish artists and worldwide hits.

The 6 episodes on SVT’s website are available to watch only in Sweden, but the extras can be watched even outside Sweden. The episodes are up on YouTube though, so you can watch them from any country.

Part 1 – En magisk afton i april – A magical evening in April

This episode is about the ’60s and ’70s. I picked a couple of interesting parts of it. One of them is when the reporter asks several Swedish artists (Dr. Alban, Neneh Cherry, Jonas Åkerlund, Björn Skifs, Per Gessle among them) if they know who the first Swedish artist was that entered the US Billboard Hot 100. Even Per couldn’t guess it right. It was Siw Malmkvist with Sole Sole Sole in 1964, peaking at No. 58. When the reporter hands over the single to Mr. G he says it has a wonderful cover. He immediately takes out the vinyl from its sleeve and smells it. Haha.

Another interesting fact was that the first Swedish No. 1 on Billboard was Blue Swede’s cover of Hooked On a Feeling. Blue Swede was Björn Skifs’ band back then. What is more interesting is that the song became No. 1 on the same day when ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo. 6th April 1974.

ABBA, still being Sweden’s biggest music export, was the first band that could make an international breakthrough not coming from the US or the UK.

Paul Gambaccini (known as The Professor of Pop) from BBC says they learned that if you get music from Sweden, you should at least listen to it.

Part 2 – “Today Sweden, Tomorrow The World”

Yes, this is the episode about Roxette, the ’80s mainly, but also a few words about the ’90s. It is worth watching this episode even if you can’t speak Swedish. It shows a lot of footage from concerts, studio sessions and old interviews.

In one of the old interviews Marie and Per say their dream is to break through not only in Sweden, but also internationally.

First, the reporter is talking about Gyllene Tider with Per. After a while he shows the English version of När vi två blir en (Beating Heart) to Mr. G on YouTube. Per’s facial expression says it all. Many artists tried their luck in the ’80s. They were singing in English to have better chances for their breakthrough.

Per shows The Heartland Café album that was released in 1984, one year after he released his first solo album. Then he suddenly shows another sleeve which says Roxette as the band’s name. That was the US version. Per tells he remembers he was at Tower Records in Los Angeles and found their album next to Roxy Music and it made him very happy. But they sold only a few hundred copies of that record. The Heartland Café didn’t sell good in Sweden either.

About Marie, the reporter says a girl showed up with a better voice than the best singers had. Per says Marie and him thought they could do something together and one day break through abroad. Mr. G says it was a better period for Marie when GT failed with The Heartland Café. She was an artist on her way up with a bright future. For Per, it was the exact opposite. He released another solo album that was a flop.

Per always wanted to work together with Marie and do something in English. Mr. G wrote Svarta Glas for Pernilla Wahlgren, but she or her record company never got back to Per. Then this song was just lying around and when the head of EMI heard it, he told Per he should translate it into English and record it with Marie. It became Roxette’s debut single, Neverending Love. There was no picture of Marie and Per on the cover not to risk Marie’s career. If the single flops, there is no harm done, they thought. But the single became a hit in Sweden, so they went to the studio to record a complete album. They had a video camera with them and extreme ambitions. They even printed ”Today Sweden, Tomorrow The World” on their T-shirts.

There was another Swedish band back in the days that was really successful, Europe. The reporter asks Per if they were envious of Europe. Mr. G says of course they were. Of their hairdo. Haha. After we get to know more about Europe’s breakthrough, Per says they envied the success of the guys, but at the same time it was awesome. Europe showed that it works even after ABBA. They managed to succeed in the US.

Roxette’s debut album wasn’t released abroad even if it became double platinum in Sweden. EMI in Germany said they should write a Christmas song, so it might be 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 reporter says, if you come from Halmstad, there is only one way to go, forward. Per started writing songs for another Roxette album and they were soon back in the studio. With less musicians, more machines and of course, Marie’s magical voice.

Per thinks that their 2nd album, Look Sharp! is still magnificent. The reporter asks what people thought about the album abroad. Per says it had a nice response, but many other artists had good albums. The reporter asks if they were disappointed. Mr. G says he was disappointed because he knew it was a fantastic album, they all felt it was a strong record, so they thought it’s difficult to go forward when you don’t have success with such an album.

In 1988 another Swedish artist broke through internationally. It was Neneh Cherry with her Buffalo Stance single. Per says it’s an awesome one. He knew that Neneh Cherry was Swedish, but many thought she was e.g. from Brooklyn.

Then comes the story of Dean Cushman. As we all know, he brought his copy of Look Sharp! to the radio station in Minneapolis. Program leader Brian Phillips says it picked his curiosity, but didn’t put it on on his CD player. The album was lying around on his table among other music. Then Dean popped up again to ask his album back, so then Brian felt guilty and thought he would listen to it. The Look came up and Brian thought the intro was great. He thought the whole song was great. ”This is terrific pop. I remember hitting the false ending in the song and it picked back up again and then I got goosebumps. Oh boy… this is…”

Per says they sent it to other stations too and got the same response. Everything exploded after that. The Look became No. 1 on the US Billboard 100 on 8th April 1989. In an old interview Per explains what it means to have an US No. 1. It can open the doors to other markets, like Europe, Japan, everywhere.

Per tells the story of soundtrack to Pretty Woman. He was asked to write a soundtrack song for a movie called 3000 Dollars in the beginning. He didn’t have the time to write a new song, but thought It Must Have Been Love could work with that. And the rest is history. 6 months later Pretty Woman became one of the biggest movies of all time and IMHBL became Roxette’s biggest song. The reporter asks how the song worked in Germany. Per says it became a hit there too. It was No. 4 on the charts the reporter confirms.

The reporter gives Per a piece of paper with numbers written on it. 1, 14, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2. Per guesses it right, it’s the list of Roxette’s singles’ peaks on Billboard. The Look, Dressed for Success, Listen to Your Heart, Dangerous, It Must Have Been Love, Joyride, Fading Like A Flower. Per says the more time goes by, the more unbelievable it feels.

To emphasize how amazing it is, there were 7 Swedish No. 1’s on Billboard and 4 of them are Roxette songs. Roxette had more US No. 1’s than e.g. the Queen.

Swedish No. 1’s

1974 Blue Swede – Hooked On A Feeling
1977 ABBA – Dancing Queen
1989 Roxette – The Look
1989 Roxette – Listen To Your Heart
1990 Roxette – It Must Have Been Love
1991 Roxette – Joyride
1994 Ace of Base – The Sign

Part 3 – Hitkrattan och Cheirongubben – Exploring hits and the Cheiron guy

This episode is about the ’90s, the disco and dance floor era. DJs and music producers talk, but also Dr. Alban and Ace of Base, as well as American artists who came to Sweden to record their songs. Denniz Pop and Max Martin also appear in this part of the documentary, who wrote and produced songs for e.g. Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears.

Part 4 – “Generation Blockflöjt” – Generation Recorder

This episode is also about the ’90s. The Wannadies, Atomic Swing, The Cardigans, Meja are talking among others, but also Jonas Åkerlund who directed tons of music videos. Roxette’s Fingertips and June Afternoon, as well as Per Gessle’s Kix is shown in the docu for some seconds, but he directed videos also for e.g. The Prodigy, The Cardigans, U2 and Madonna.

Part 5 – Ett paradis för pirater – A paradise for pirates

This episode is about the 2000s. It’s about how the computers and the internet changed the music industry. Basshunter, Robyn, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii and his manager, as well as Daniel Ek (VD Spotify) talk among others in this part of the docu. Most of this episode is about Avicii.

Part 6 – Må bästa låt vinna – May the best song win

In this episode we can see again the question about who the first Swedish artist was on Billboard. Then another question is asked from several artists: Which song is the biggest hit? Being for the longest time on several charts, not only in the US. In the vinyl era: ABBA – Dancing Queen; CD era: Ace of Base – The Sign; streaming era: Avicii – Wake Me Up; written by a Swede: Lady Gaga – Poker Face (co-written by RedOne).

Most of this episode is about Max Martin and Johan ”Shellback” Schuster. Martin has 22 No. 1’s on Billboard Hot 100. Only John Lennon and Paul McCartney have more. Justin Timberlake says Martin is great at making earworms. Adam Levine, Pink, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift are also talking about him. Martin together with Shellback produced tons of worldwide hits.

Extras

Hitlåtens historia på 2 minuter – Roxette – The Look

It’s the song’s story in 2 minutes. Most of it is repeating what you could hear and see in Part 2 of the docu about the song. In addition it is mentioned that the recording technician who would have originally been in the studio broke his leg, so Anders Herrlin came to record with Marie and Per. He brought computers, synths and some other stuff. Roxette found their sound. Also, they are talking about the song, what the lyrics mean. There Per explains he wrote the lyrics to remember the rythm. If you want, you can find a surreal logic in the text.

Per + Marie = Roxette

Per says he thought he was good at writing songs, but he didn’t like his own voice. He thought his voice set a limit to his material. He didn’t want to sing, but wanted to work with someone who could. When Marie started singing she made Per’s songs so much better. In the end they became a duo and Per was singing too. He says it’s effective. It’s the same as in Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles or The Beatles. You can customize the song after you wrote it. He wrote The Look for Marie, but it didn’t fit her, but it suited Per. The big ballads he wrote for her, Queen of Rain, Listen To Your Heart, It Must Have Been Love, Marie made them big anthems. When he listens to his demos of these songs he can hear they are rather boring. It’s Marie’s capacity that lifted these songs. Per says they were a good combo. Match made in heaven. They were good at different things, but when they added them together, 1 + 1 made 5.

Fönster mot TV-världen del 2: Roxette tar över Argentina – Window to the TV world (part 2): Roxette takes over Argentina

Per talks about their first tour in South America 1992. He says there was extreme poverty and Michael Jackson cancelled his tour, Guns N’ Roses too, Madonna as well. It was clear they wouldn’t earn money on that part of the tour, but they still wanted to play there. Whole South America exploded. They had to move their shows from places with capacity of 7000 to football stadiums with capacity of 48000 in Buenos Aires, 65000 in São Paulo, 55000 in Rio de Janeiro. Same in Lima and Santiago. After the first Buenos Aires concert they had to do another show and they sold the rights to broadcast live to one of the 2 TV channels in Argentina. The other TV channel was broadcasting their Zurich show from half a year before. So that night for about 90 minutes Roxette was all around Argentina.

 

Stills are from the documentary.

CONTEST: Win a Per Gessle’s Roxette tour photo book!

Anders Roos, photographer and publisher of the Per Gessle’s Roxette tour photo book was kind enough to offer us 1 copy for a contest. As you know, the book contains quotes + pics around Europe in 2018 on 144 pages and a DVD of the last show of the tour. The copy you can win is signed by Mr. G! So here is your great chance to get hold of it if you don’t have it yet!

In order to participate, answer the following questions correctly:

  1. How many gigs were there on the Per Gessle’s Roxette tour? – 20
  2. Name the opening and closing songs on the setlist one could hear at each concert on tour! – The Look; The Sweet Hello, The Sad Goodbye
  3. Name the female members of the band on tour! – Helena Josefsson, Malin-My Wall
  4. Which gig was recorded for the DVD? – Gothenburg, Sweden, 16th November 2018

Send an e-mail with your name, address and the correct answers to the questions to rxbcontests@gmail.com until 23:59 CET, 7th July 2019. The lucky winner will be announced shortly after. Answers to all questions can be found on RoxetteBlog. 😉 Good luck!

Contest terms and conditions:
– In order to participate, you have to send an e-mail to rxbcontests@gmail.com with name, address and correct answers to the
4 questions. We will consider all e-mails we receive until 23:59 CET on 7th July 2019.
– 1
winner will be picked randomly among those who have participated and sent the correct answers.
– You can only participate once, any attempt to participate twice or more times will lead to your disqualification.
– Prizes won’t be paid out in cash. Prizes will be sent by registered
mail only once.
– The winner will be announced on this website, on our Facebook page and will also be notified per e-mail. You’ll be required to answer the e-mail confirming your address.
– RoxetteBlog.com will not enter into any correspondence regarding the result of the contest and is not liable for any damages, loss or expenses that may result in connection to the prizes.
– By taking part in the contest, personal data (first name, surname, e-mail address and address) will be collected. These data are needed in order to run the contest, particularly in order to match participation applications to their entries as well as to identify and notify the winners. This method of processing data is therefore required pursuant to Article 6 Paragraph 1 lit b of the GDPR to fulfil contractual obligations. The personal data collected will be processed and used by RoxetteBlog.com only to the extent that is required in order to run the contest. The personal data will be stored for the duration of the contest and – in order to process any claims relating to winnings and damages – for a maximum of 6 months afterwards and they will then be deleted. By participating you agree to all above mentioned and your name being published on this website as well as on social media channels in case you win the contest.

 

UPDATE on 8th July 2019: since we got hold of another book too, we picked 2 winners instead of 1. The winners are: Alejandro Molina, Argentina and Marcela Molcakova, Slovakia. The winners are informed via e-mail too.