Roxette – The Look
The Look is probably Roxette’s most famous song across their whole career. They released it in mid January 1989, and things immediately started going great. It is true that many songs enter the charts, and may stay some weeks in high places. In this case, this hit reached the highest position, that is, was the best selling hit for many weeks in 25 countries!!
We can say that in some sense people already knew this song, because Roxette had released the album Look Sharp! in October. Those who purchased the album (like I did, for example), already knew the hit. Yet Roxette’s fame increased really quickly, thanks even to other singles like Dressed for Success, the fantastic Listen to Your Heart or even Chances in some countries.
The Look really blasted like a bomb. Every radio put that song, all music magazines wrote about Marie and Per from Sweden, and looked at them as “the new ABBA” (of course Sweden did not offer many other comparisons…)
The story of this huge success, of course, shows that destiny is always ready to change things in a moment. Prior to this song Roxette had failed to get a US deal despite several attempts, so the song was released in Sweden and Europe, but there were no plans to export Roxette overseas. When this song came out, however, an American student from Minneapolis who was studying in Sweden took a cassette home with him, and brought the cassette with The Look to a radio in his area, and they obviously started playing it. And from here the success was unstoppable also in the USA, so much so that when they finally got a contract, the song was already in the first places of the radio charts!
In various interviews, poor Marie Fredriksson, who sadly passed away in December 2019, recalled how The Look was one of her favorite songs from Roxette’s repertoire, but added one detail: according to her, the song was perfect for the male voice of Per, his teammate in Roxette’s adventures. The problem, however, was that Per was never convinced that he could sing the song, at least not alone, so in fact you hear the male voice above all in the verses, and Marie’s ringing voice in the chorus.
It hadn’t been too difficult to write this song; it was one of those moments where inspiration takes over and things take shape by themselves. Indeed, Per recalls in interviews how he immediately had clear ideas about the music, and he used few random words to open the song, just to have at least some words to start singing, and then he would change them later.
Well, those random words that he created just to say something obviously remained as the very first lines of the song! I mean, when they listened to the song again, I can see them saying “Oh, but actually in the end these first lines don’t feel bad at all… they sound really good…” and in short, in the end they didn’t even have to change the first random verses!
The song has two videos. The first was shot by Swedish director Mats Jonstam, and has the style of a somehow amateur video, with images taken from concerts and photo shootings. Some time later a more suggestive video was shot by American director Peter Heath in a location in New York (the same where the video for Dressed for Success was shot). This second video is very beautiful and peculiar, shot in a very suggestive environment, in the middle between psychedelia and decadence.
In the United States, however, they had some problems and were even censored in some states because of the final scenes, when Marie sings sitting on a toilet. She was fully dressed and the toilet lid was closed, but the presence of the toilet itself was enough to create some problems to Roxette.
However, I’d say that in short, if a successful project can have a particular look, I would say that it must be exactly look like when Roxette created The Look!
Roxette on Wikipedia