“We’re a part of this together/could never turn around and run”
Roxette are celebrating 20 years with their release of the uninspired A Collection of Roxette Hits: Their 20 Greatest Songs, a title which Something Awful rightly ripped into despite my questioning the rest of their judgements on the content. That is not the big, important thing, though: the important thing is The Roxbox – Roxette 86-06. You get the impression that more work went into this collection simply from the name alone.
The Roxbox is a collection of 78 Roxette songs: some hits, some B-sides, some demos, some … album tracks? Anyway, the lead single in some countries, and number two on the Swedish charts at the time of this writing is “One Wish”:
I’ve been a Roxette supporter since 1995. So yes, I came late to the party. And yes, I let that support lay dormant until I needed them again in 2003, when my Look for Roxette was what sustained me through the HSC. This was, of course, in the days of my rabid obsessiveness. I cannot raise such passion anymore, a source of both relief and distress.
So what to make of “One Wish”? I showed it to my friend William, a casual fan of Roxette (who had rearranged “Listen to Your Heart” as a birthday surprise with another of my friends, but was dashed down during the week), and he said “it’s good that Roxette have retained their sound”.
I’ve listened to a lot of Per Gessle this year, because his two disc album Son of a Plumber had me enthralled for a couple of weeks. When I’m listening to Roxette, though, I’m generally hanging out for Marie Fredriksson to carry me away on the wings of her voice.
“One Wish” is something that we don’t see very often in a Roxette song: call and response! Per sings a verse, and then Marie! It’s not the usual “lead and support” conundrum, and if I were to listen to it again I would be happy that they are working together.
Marie has not, of course, sung on a new Roxette song since 2002’s “Breathe”, since she was diagnosed with a brain tumour shortly after recording. Per is good, don’t get me wrong, but I want the Marie that only Roxette can offer (Marie’s solo efforts – at least those in English [unlike my Per collection, I have no Swedish language Marie] – are uncompelling).
Still, I must let “One Wish” grow on me. On the other hand, I appreciated the constant play from other music videos that Roxette have made over the years, from the camaraderie of “Silver Blue” (also substantially the same as “Dangerous” but I prefer “Silver Blue”):
To the most attractive Marie ever filmed in “June Afternoon” (a music video that features the best and worst of Roxette videos):
Of course, a retrospective video is going to reveal that Roxette may have been popular but they were almost never (I hope) at the height of fashion. For the entire Joyride era into Tourism, Per looked like an over made-up train wreck whose hair might melt off his head at any moment.
Yet I can not help but love him.
The Roxbox is the (not perfect; you should have seen the ruckus at the revelation of the track listing!) antidote to The Roxette Collection. I mean, their fourth “best of” album, when they had only released two new studio albums between their first and second/third compilation, and none since!
The Roxbox is great for a collector like me. Discovering new Roxette is like, I don’t know, finding Life on Mars. While I really want a new studio album (you can do it, Per and Marie! I believe in you and your two solo albums apiece since Room Service!), I will content myself with See Me.
Rock on, Roxette. Prove to the world that Sweden’s got what it takes: pop, metal and one of the world’s most pleasant societies.