Concierge Barney says good-bye, kisses Vivian's hand and tells driver Darryl to let Vivian go in the stretch limo wherever she goes. In the next image of Pretty Woman , Vivian is sitting in the back of the car, all alone in a strangely unfitting new business suit, and the first beats of Roxette's It Must Have Been Love sound like " Lay a whisper on my pillow ... "
How to put a whisper on a pillow is a good question. It's a crooked metaphor, in the lyrics of power ballads of the eighties, the most incredible things could happen. Almost all of them dealt with the miracle of love and the oversize of emotions. Per Gessle, the guitarist of the Swedish band Roxette, wrote his most beautiful Powerballade in 1987, shortly after the duo was founded. Marie Fredriksson sang in her voice, which was so clear and pleasantly rather loud, " It must have been love / but it 's over now ". Without her, without that voice, the songs of Roxette would have been all-time songs. It Must Have Been Love was released in 1987, at first only in Sweden. Only with The Look two years later stormed Roxette in the international charts. Hollywood got that too.
In the spring of 1990 Pretty Woman appeared in the American cinemas. The protagonist, the prostitute Vivian Ward, is one of the most unrealistic figures in film history. Nothing about the movie is real. The role made Julia Roberts a star (or just because of that). And the most important song of the soundtrack was not the well-known street teasers of Roy Orbison, who also gave the film its title. But just Must Must Have Been Love by Roxette. He runs the moment Vivian literally returns to the streets of Los Angeles after a few days in the expensive paid sky of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, alongside businessman Edward, as a sex worker. It is a farewell song, a farewell to an illusion of the possibility of another, happier existence.
It's nice to howl, but even to howl, because then soon the absurd happy ending follows. But only in the movie. In the song of Roxette, it remains until the end: It must have been love, but it's over. That was real.
The music of the band Roxette, founded in 1986, was, from a purely aesthetic point of view, out of time. The epoch of Powerballade, the big teenage staple blues of cellar parties, was over in the mid-eighties. House, techno, acid, rave, hip-hop, all that was now, late eighties, early nineties, much more exciting, newer, faster. Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, on the other hand, made popular European rock music. Lots of reverb on the snare drum, a lot of twanging on the guitar, a bit cheap, but effective synths, straight beats, please no groove.
This was music for people who did not get along with techno back then; the hip hop, whether Old School, New School, or the Daisy Age of De La Soul, did not get it or did not get it; grunge, which at the latest in 1991 wiped away all other rock music with Nirvana's Nevermind , sounded somehow too dark and depressive. No sooner were the eighties than 80 years old parties for these people, and Roxette was played there. Although the records of Roxette were brand new, they were about a bygone era.
Peak phase at Roxette: Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle in 1991 © Brigani-Art / imago images
But not in the sense of retro music. Roxette did not refer to a genre or a specific epoch. Their music was more likely to answer the question: what song would a middle-aged middleaged radio disc jockey play in a midsize country on a rainy Sunday noon to make people happy, sitting in the car or singing in front of the harness and a chorus at home ? Even those people who would not like Roxette songs cool enough would not switch channels right away. They would lurch quietly, albeit furtively.
Gessle and Fredriksson were both born in the late fifties and both grew up in the Swedish province, Gessle after all in the harbor town Halmstad, Fredriksson in the villages Össjö and Östra Ljungby. The nearest big city was Malmö and far away, and Malmö is not really big either. Fredriksson once said in an interview that a priest played an integral role in her discovery of her love of music as a child. Sundays sang hymns. In the late 1970s, as a young woman, Fredriksson moved to Halmstad and met Gessle, who was already in a band, Gyllene Tider. Fredriksson released two solo albums that were successful in Sweden. Nevertheless, she teamed with Gessle Roxette, as his band had dissolved (in the meantime).
It Must Have Been Love , Dressed for Success , Listen to Your Heart , The Look , Joyride , How Do You Do! Sleeping in My Car : Roxette was a singles and not an album band, and the big hits happened in a fairly short window of time, roughly from 1988 to 1994. People who were young at the time can still play Roxette songs for the songs keep her youth. The duo did them the favor of never disappearing completely. But also never to be artistically ambitious or even esoteric. The old hits are on hold, new ones were not added anymore. As long as Roxette was still there, it seemed, the eighties and nineties were not really over. A comparable rock band from that time, whose music made a lot of people happy and very few disturbed correctly, does not come to mind. It must have been Love.
Marie Fredriksson in the Papp Laszlo Budapest Sports Arena in Budapest, May 2015 © Balazs Mohai / dpa
For the past two decades, Roxette has been on-and-off, with Fredriksson releasing solo albums, the eighth and final, in 2013. During this time, she also toured with Roxette, who began her Neverending World tour in 2011. In 2016, Fredriksson had to cancel this tour, which was never to end, due to illness. It was the final farewell to the stage.
Marie Fredriksson died on Monday. She was 61 years old.