SotD: Roxette, “The Look”

Sometimes your instant reaction is completely, laughably, 100% R-O-N-G, and maybe the best you can do is just own up to your grievous error. Here’s one of mine from thirty years ago.

It’s late winter/early spring of 89, and I’m starting to hear a new song from a previously unknown-to-me Swedish duo. The video’s getting plenty of play, too: the male vocalist has spiky hair, and his attractive bleach-blonde partner is mainly singing backup. The action in the clip takes place in the skeleton of a house which looks like maybe it was built inside a warehouse; most of it is shot in the “bedroom.” The lyrics are quick bites, modestly intriguing (“kissin’ is a color,” “lovin’ is the ocean”) and the production values are solid, but something feels just a little off to me. After a few listens/views, I make my pronouncement: this twosome is destined to be a one-hit wonder. I’m not especially shy about sharing my thoughts with friends.

And then I find out I’ve been completely conned about the balance of power in Roxette: Marie Fredriksson is the actual star of the show. After “The Look” hit #1, they immediately prove me wrong with the #14-peaking “Dressed for Success,” but things are just getting started. Their next five songs all make the top 2 in the US, including the mega-smashes “Listen to Your Heart” and “It Must Have Been Love.” Sure, Per Gessle takes major turns at the mic in “Dangerous” and “Joyride,” but for the next two-plus years (stateside, anyway–success lasts longer in Europe), to me it seems like we’re all just living in Fredriksson’s world, even if we might not fully recognize it.

Thirty years ago this week, “The Look” was making its move, jumping from #25 to #13. It reached the top on the 4/8/89 chart.

If you’re going to make a bad snap judgment, it may as well be a doozy.

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