500 million views of Roxette’s It Must Have Been Love video

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.

 

Marie Fredriksson tribute on Nordic Rox #4

A couple of days ago there was the final episode of the Marie tribute program on Nordic Rox, Sirius XM.

This time Per Gessle and Sven Lindström were back with 2 more classic tracks and Per commented on those songs. Until Mr. G joined Sven, Mr. Lindström played a Roxette beauty, A Thing About You from 2002.

The first song Per picked is from Roxette’s biggest selling album, Joyride. He chose Things Will Never Be The Same. Mr. G says it’s one of the fan favourites, it has always been very popular among the fans. Per always loved this track. It’s got that Roxette gimmick in there: Per is singing a bit and Marie is singing 80 percent of the song. It just made it sort of special and sounded like no one else. Like in Dressed For Success or Dangerous, it’s that little trick they used. TWNBTS has a Spanish guitar intro and outro. It sounded different. It has a beautiful melody and of course, amazing vocals by Marie. Sven asks Per if he remembers any special tricks in the songwriting regarding this song. Mr. G says if there are 2 singers, you can use the strengths or hide the weaknesses. They laugh. Per tells he basically wrote most of the songs for Marie’s voice, but then sometimes in the lyrics you can ask a question like ”Whatcha gonna tell your brother?” in DFS and she can answer. You can just use that you are two people, a female and a male having a dialogue in the lyric. It’s an old country trick. It makes sense in TWNBTS lyrically and it’s just a beautiful song. Sven asks Per if he remembers how he presented TWNBTS for Marie, if he played it live on an acoustic guitar or if he made a demo and sent it to her. Per thinks he made a demo in the studio. For Joyride he started making pretty advanced demos. Lots of the arrangements on that album were already there when he made the demos. Joyride for instance sounds almost the same as his demo. Songs which are sung by Marie become totally different when you record them, because you change the keys and as soon as you change the key, it sounds different. In TWNBTS they brought in the Spanish guitar part and producer Clarence Öfwerman’s trademark synthesizers are all over the place. A little drum machine is also in there. Per thinks it’s a cool track, a typical production for its era. You can hear its early ’90s sound to it. It’s very Roxette for Per. Sven says the title is perfect for the feelings we all had when Marie left us before Christmas last year.

After the song, Sven tells they are sitting in the ABBA room at Live Nation in Stockholm. Per asks him if he feels like a dancing queen. Sven replies ”not exactly” and asks Per if he feels like it. Per answers ”always”. Haha. He mentions he is looking at an old ABBA picture in the room, an old poster from the Voulez-Vous Tour when they played Gothenburg in the ’70s.

Queen Of Rain is the other song the guys are discussing. It was a single from Tourism in 1992. It was actually recorded for the Joyride album in 1990 and it was supposed to be the final track on Joyride, but then Per wrote a song called Perfect Day, which included an accordion. They thought it was fitting because it had a different sound to it, totally different to the other tracks on the album. So they used Perfect Day as the last song instead. They had a backing vocalist called Vicki Benckert who was also a great accordion player. Tourism was the tour album from the Joyride tour. Per says the album was recorded basically on the road. They booked studios in São Paulo, Copenhagen, Los Angeles. Some songs they recorded in hotel rooms. It was like a tour album, including a couple of live tracks as well, but most of it was studio recordings. The live recording of Joyride seamlessly goes over to QOR on the album. They did a video to QOR in Northern France. Per thinks it’s a beautiful song and it fits Marie perfectly. She is just a great singer and QOR sums up Marie really well for Per. Sven says they talked about her rock ’n’ roll side, but she also had this melancholy in her personality. Mr. G says Marie loved to sing songs like Queen Of Rain, Crash! Boom! Bang! or Spending My Time, telling stories. You can hear it in her voice that she becomes the song and that’s how she communicated so well to everyone who listened to her. Per thinks it’s one of his best songs if he may say so himself, but it’s Marie’s voice that brings it home. Amazing!

Waving goodbye in Kalmar 2015. Pic by Patrícia Peres

 

Thanx for the technical support to János Tóth.

Marie Fredriksson tribute on Nordic Rox #3

A few days ago there was the 3rd episode of the Marie tribute program on Nordic Rox, Sirius XM.

Before the guys are talking about 2 classic Roxette hits, Sven plays the first track from Bag of Trix, the upcoming archives collection of unreleased recordings by Roxette. The acoustic cover of The Beatles classic, Help! was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in 1995.

Then comes a discussion about a song from 1988, from Look Sharp! album. Per says he picked this song, because for him it sums up where Roxette was standing at the time productionwise. This is a very sparse production. Clarence is just an amazing producer and he relied on and had so much belief in Marie’s vocals, so he just scrapped everything and let Marie sing. This has got a great groove to it, a great guitar hook by Jonas Isacsson and it’s just about Marie’s voice. The demo Per is singing sounds crap, but when Marie delivers the song is just amazing. It’s Sleeping Single.

Per says when they were recording Look Sharp! they felt they were doing something very different. They had great songs and every song they recorded sounded better than the other one. Paint, Dangerous, Dressed For Success, The Look, Listen To Your Heart. Every song was so cool. They went to England to record 3 songs with a different producer which they didn’t like that much, but they wound up on the album anyway. Mr. G is very grateful to Clarence, because he trusted Per’s songs and he really trusted Marie’s voice, so he just focused on making the songs as good as possible.

Sven asks Per if Sleeping Single was an obvious single candidate. Mr. G says all songs on Look Sharp! were created to become singles. Eventually, they released 4 songs off the album and Sleeping Single wasn’t one of them, because they had The Look, Dressed For Success, Dangerous and Listen To Your Heart. Sven laughs and says ”heavy competition”. Paint was a huge song in South America. It wasn’t released as a single, but got heavy airplay as an album track, so it became a big song for Roxette. Dance Away was a big song for them live. Per could have also picked that one for the program, because Marie sings so beautifully in that one as well.

In Sleeping Single they used saxophone which they never did before. It sounded really cool. Saxophone and shoulder pads. Where did the 80’s go…, Per asks.

The third song they play is from Room Service. Per thinks it’s a good album, different from the other albums. It was the last album they recorded before Marie got ill, so it also has a very special place in Mr. G’s heart. It’s got a great sound, it’s not a heavy album at all. There aren’t big ballads on it. When they do the ballads they try to keep the production low. The song Per picked is My World, My Love, My Life, the closing track of the album. Mr. G loves the guitar riff that Jonas is playing and of course loves Marie’s voice on this one. It’s a typical Roxette song, but at the same time it’s not. He thought it was maybe the best song on the album when they recorded it. It’s a great track and Marie is just shining on this one.

Sven thinks Marie sings equally as good on Room Service as she did on the bigger Roxette albums 10 years earlier. Per agrees and says if you listen to the live recordings from the Room Service tour, you can hear she was singing so well. Maybe also because of her experience as they were in their 12th year of being international artists, so of course they learned a trick or two.

Stills are from this video.

Thanx for the technical support to János Tóth.

Roxette – Help! (Abbey Road Sessions November 1995)

On 15th November 1995, Roxette recorded 4 acoustic tracks at the Abbey Road Studios in London. Those songs were 3 Rox hits (The Look, Listen To Your Heart, You Don’t Understand Me) and a wonderful cover of The Beatles gem, Help! All 3 Roxette tracks were already released on the You Don’t Understand Me single and YDUM also appeared on the Anyone single later. Help! (Abbey Road Sessions November 1995) is released digitally for the first time on 8th May, but earlier it was released on The RoxBox. Marie’s vocals are stunning! Listen to it on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube or other digital platforms.

Per about the single:

In these days of seclusion and confusion this digitally unreleased pearl is very much needed. Roxette paid homage to The Beatles on a sunny day in November 1995 at the Abbey Road studio in London. “Help!” is the first taste of the “BAG OF TRIX – Music from the Roxette Vaults” album series that will pop up when you least expect it. Enjoy!

Parts of the Abbey Road recording sessions can be seen in the documentary, Really Roxette. The album sleeve photo of Marie and Per was taken by Marie Dimberg in 1989 when Roxette was in London to appear on TV with The Look in Top of the Pops. You can see this picture in Sven Lindström’s book, Roxette – Den osannolika resan tur och retur. The famous Abbey Road crossing is still very popular. You can wacth it online all day long via a live cam on the studio’s website. The album sleeve itself would deserve a physical release and the song would definitely sound fantastic on vinyl.

The Beatles released Help! (written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney) in 1965 and it was No. 1 both in the UK and in the US. After 55 years, it still sounds amazing, even if John told in an interview that he regrets a bit that it became too fast, because they tried to make the song more commercial. I’m quite sure he would have liked Roxette’s slow version.

Marie Fredriksson tribute on Nordic Rox #2

As Sven promised in the first episode, here is the next Marie tribute on Nordic Rox, Sirius XM. Per and Sven start with Crash! Boom! Bang! Per tells they were recording the album in Capri for 6-7 weeks. Per always loved this song, because it’s so fragile and it’s so much Marie for him. Marie singing these big ballads is just mesmerizing. It’s a perfect Roxette song. Sven asks Per if he knew he would write it differently because of already knowing how Marie can deliver such songs. Per replies that he has always been a melody guy, so he could expand the melody a lot when he knew that Marie was going to sing it. For all the songs he wrote he made demos, singing them himself and some of the demos he had a really hard time to do, but it was piece of cake for Marie. If she liked them. Sometimes she didn’t like a song, then they didn’t record it. It’s natural. You have to really like what you are doing. CBB is like a trademark Roxette song. Sven says it also became a centerpiece on the live shows. According to Mr. G it’s a beautiful song and great production as well. It still sounds cool.

After CBB, the guys are talking about Roxette’s first two world tours. Sven says the CBB world tour (1994-1995) was not as big as Joyride (1991-1992), but almost. Per says it was big enough. It was different. The first world tour was when the band exploded and the tour got extended on the go. CBB was only like 100 shows. Here they start laughing. Sven says that was the first time when Roxette performed in South Africa. Per remembers they played big football stadiums. He also tells that the Crash tour was amazing for him, because they built up a great catalogue of hits, so they could make really wonderful concerts. Marie was amazing and they had a great band. They worked for basically 7 years in a row and those were the last 2 years of that period. They had their little peak there, Per thinks.

Sven asks Per if he knew in advance that Marie was such a rocker on stage. Mr. G says he doesn’t think so. Even Marie herself didn’t realize it before either. It just happened when they started making videos. When she performed her own songs with her own band, she was pretty boring on stage. She was sitting by the piano, like a singer songwriter. But suddenly, she just exploded on stage in the early videos. She always had this acting ambition. She felt very comfortable in front of the camera and eventually, she became an amazing performer on stage. That is also one of the reasons why Roxette became so big. They could deliver live as well, not only in the studio. They were a great live band, great musicians, Swedish guys and girls, all of them and of course, Marie as a centerpiece of everything. In the pop world it’s never been natural that even though a band has hits, most of them can’t deliver on stage. It takes a certain sort of quality to be able to perform for 55,000 people and have them entertained for 2 hours.

The next song they are talking about is Wish I Could Fly. Sven tells his special memory from later, from the Night of the Proms tour in Germany. The symphony orchestra was playing a piece to introduce Roxette and that was a Scandinavian piece which turned to WICF and Marie entered the stage from the floor, rising from there. When people realized that this classical piece turned into Roxette and saw Marie entering the stage through the floor, everyone stood up and started cheering. It was in 2009. Per explains Marie became ill in 2002 and she had a break for 7 years, so NOTP was the first comeback tour they did.

When Per wrote the songs for Have A Nice Day, he had a couple of years writing songs in different directions. Dance tracks, guitar tracks, electro music. Wish I Could Fly was just different to anything else. He was very surprised that the record label picked it as the first single for the album, because it was so different to what they had done before. Looking back now it feels like it’s a great part of te Roxette puzzle. Per really likes the song and Marie of course delivers it so well. Mr. G likes the lyrics and the way Marie sings it, as well as the arrangement. It’s so 90’s to him with the drum loop that goes on and on. It’s got a great riff too, almost like a Led Zeppelin riff. Sven adds that the song has also got an atmosphere to it that suits Marie’s voice so perfectly. She adds something magical to it. Per agrees. He says it’s a tough song to play live though, because it’s based on that machine loop that goes on and on and it’s hard to play it if you are not using sequencers and stuff like that. You can cheat a little bit if you want to, but they never did. The guys are laughing again.

The next song is from the album that could have been the last Roxette record, as Sven says. Milk And Toast And Honey from Room Service. The album was recorded in 2000. Marie was doing a solo album in Swedish and touring in the summer. She was planning to make more music with Micke. Per adds he is a great piano player. So Marie wasn’t really into making a new Roxette record, but Per wrote a lot of songs and they started to work on the album. Per personally thinks that Room Service contains some of their greatest works. There are some really outstanding songs on it. Sven agrees. He thinks it sounds great and it’s got a cool vibe to it. Mr. G says they used a new engineer, so they got a little bit different sound to it. They had basically the same players though. Jonas Isacsson plays amazing guitar. Marie sounded amazing especially on MATAH. According to Per, this is the best track on the album, because it’s a ballad, but not like a typical huge Roxette ballad, like Spending My Time or Listen To Your Heart. This is like a tiny little ballad that Marie just delivers and it’s beautiful.

By this time Marie already had 2 kids and family was much in focus for her. She wasn’t really interested in touring the world or promoting. She wanted to be at home with her family. Who could blame her for that? They had been doing it internationally for 12 years at that time, so Per thinks she wanted to have a break. The album was done very much by Clarence Öfwerman and Per and then they did a big European tour with that album as well.

Sven mentions the story of Marie arriving to the recordings of MATAH with a taxi and leaving right after recording her vocals. Per tells Marie’s vocals had been recorded already before, but he wanted her to do some different takes on the last chorus to change the melody, to bring the song home. So he called Marie and she came by taxi and kept the taxi waiting outside the studio, sang those 3 lines and she was out again, in the taxi and back home. Per is laughing while he is telling this story. Sven thinks it’s quite cheeky, but Per says that’s the way it was. Marie delivered, then Per and Clarence summed it up and finished the record.

After playing MATAH, this part of the tribute is over.

 

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to add a direct link to the program, but search for Nordic Rox and go some ”shift forwards” into the show to hear Sven and Per talking.

Thanx for the technical support to János Tóth.