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.

Musical fountain in Budapest plays The Look by Roxette 3 times a day

The musical fountain on Margaret Island in Budapest, Hungary plays The Look by Roxette 3 times  a day. The fountain provides a multimedia musical show since 2017 and this year Roxette got on the setlist. Woohoo! Watch it HERE!

The fountain basin has an area of 1,000 square meters and a total of 154 nozzles are lit by 227 colored lamps. You can sit under the plane trees and enjoy the attraction from 19th April until the first frost (~ end of October), each day from 10 am to 10 pm. Shows are 15 to 60 minutes long and start every hour from 11 am. If you want to hear Roxette, you have to be there at 3 pm, 8 pm and 9 pm.

Setlist of the session starting at 3 pm:

  1. Roxette: The Look
  2. The Dave Clark Five: I Don’t Know
  3. Simon and Garfunkel: Cecilia
  4. The Beatles: I Feel Fine

Setlist of the session starting at 8 pm:

  1. The Rolling Stones: Let Me Down Slow
  2. Herman’s Hermits: No Milk Today
  3. The Searchers: Saturday Night Out
  4. Guns N’ Roses: Sweet Child O’ Mine
  5. Roxette: The Look
  6. The Dave Clark Five: I Don’t Know
  7. Simon and Garfunkel: Cecilia
  8. The Beatles: I Feel Fine

Setlist of the session starting at 9 pm:

  1. The Rolling Stones: Let Me Down Slow
  2. Mozart: Eine kleine Nachtmusik
  3. Liszt: Liebestraum
  4. Radics Gigi: Budapest szerelem
  5. Herman’s Hermits: No Milk Today
  6. The Searchers: Saturday Night Out
  7. Johann Strauss: Radetzky March
  8. Guns N’ Roses: Sweet Child O’ Mine
  9. Johann Strauss II: The Blue Danube
  10. Roxette: The Look
  11. The Dave Clark Five: I Don’t Know
  12. Ákos: Hazatalál
  13. Vivaldi: Four Seasons – Spring
  14. Simon and Garfunkel: Cecilia
  15. The Beatles: I Feel Fine
  16. Film: Budapest tánclépésben
  17. Film: Nagy Magyarok

You can see the complete list of the songs played during a day HERE.

It’s not the first time a Roxette song is used for the attractions of a musical fountain. I know Listen To Your Heart was already used in Prague, Czech Republic 2010 and Kislovodsk, Russia 2017. Probably, there were / are more fountains where you could / can enjoy our fave band’s music.

Don’t give it a miss when you are in Budapest anytime between April and October this year!

Watch the video HERE! (The kid in the video doesn’t belong to me, but he was too cool. Came to the front only when Roxette and The Beatles were playing. Haha.)

 

Roxette on Rocksmith

Rocksmith is an award-winning method, the fastest way to learn to play guitar. You can plug any real guitar or bass into your PC, Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 or PS4 and join over 3 million people who have learned to play guitar with this method that adapts to you as you play. Hundreds of songs are available and now 3 Roxette hits are also added. The Roxette Song Pack contains The Look, It Must Have Been Love and Listen To Your Heart and is available on Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and Steam. The songs may be posted later for players in territories served by the European PlayStation Store due to differences in publishing times. See the tunings and arrangements in THIS VIDEO.

Roxette Song Pack

  • “It Must Have Been Love” – E Standard – Lead/Rhythm/Bass
  • “The Look” – E Standard – Lead/Rhythm/Bass
  • “Listen To Your Heart” – E Standard – Lead/Rhythm; D Standard – Bass

Thanx for the hint, Gaby Hildebrandt!

 

Busy April 12th for Roxette and Per Gessle fans

12th April brings for us fans one surprise after another. First it was announced that Roxette’s 6th studio album, Have a Nice Day will be released as a limited edition 180g yellow double LP gatefold sleeve. It was released only on cassette and CD in 1999, but never on vinyl. Nice way to celebrate the album’s 20th anniversary, isn’t it?

Per Gessle looks back at the record as a definite highlight in the band’s career:

Song-wise I think ”Have A Nice Day” could be our best album ever, maybe the only one that turned out like I hoped it would. That’s probably because the five-year break allowed enough time for lots of songs to grow — I wrote some of my strongest stuff and Marie’s ”Waiting For The Rain” and ”Beautiful Things” are among the best things she ever made for Roxette. And then we also added some crucial new members to our core team.

We were testing a lot of different things on ”Have A Nice Day”, mixing guitar pop ditties with drum machine driven dance beats, also adding more strings than on any previous album. And we’re talking real string sections here. You can tell that it’s recorded by a band with a big budget — maybe too big.

It has many songs and quite a long running time, a fact which in hindsight might have hurt it a bit — the “too much of a good thing” syndrome. Maybe ”Have A Nice Day” always was a double album that somewhat reluctantly was squeezed into a single CD. That’s why I love the double vinyl album format in this re-release. “Have A Nice Day” has come home again.

Tracklisting:

Side A

  1. Crush On You
  2. Wish I Could Fly
  3. You Can´t Put Your Arms Around What´s Already Gone

Side B

  1. Waiting For The Rain
  2. Anyone
  3. It Will Take A Long Long Time
  4. 7 Twenty 7

Side C

  1. I Was So Lucky
  2. Stars
  3. Salvation

Side D

  1. Pay The Price
  2. Cooper
  3. Staring At The Ground
  4. Beautiful Things

PRE-ORDER the album HERE!

 

Then there is another limited release by Per Gessle, tribute to The Ramones, I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend on 12″ vinyl in 2 colours. Clear red limited edition (500 copies) and clear limited edition (500 copies). It will also be available as a bundle with both colours.

Per about the release:

Ramones was a huge inspiration when we started our first band “Grape Rock” in 1977. The unbelievable energy, the amazing guitar sound, the cool lyrics and the added touch of surf music floored us totally. Impossible not to fall in love with.

In 2002 White Jazz Records was about to make a Ramones tribute album and I was invited to participate. My choice of song was the brilliant “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”. I couldn’t stop there so I decided to do two more killer tracks outside the album at the same time. Just for fun. Hey Ho!

Tracklisting:

Side A

  1. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
  2. Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
  3. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

Side B

B side is with engraving “Per Gessle” sign.

PRE-ORDER the album HERE!