1989 was the era of change in many aspects. With the Fall of the Wall, it ushered in a transition from what we knew in the past and what we should know about for the future. It was a bridge connecting the usual environment to the new usual. It was an era of change, where the greats from the 70s and 80s were replaced with those who would eventually lead us into the new millennium and beyond.
One of the changes that was taking shape was the style of music. During the 1980s, we were greeted with a combination of rock, techno, pop and disco music, while some of the greats from that era, influenced us through their lyrics that combined events with the past with lessons for the present. Much of that had to do with the Cold War, which was winding down, thanks to Michail Gorbachev’s policies of openness. The 1990s, however, brought a wider, more modern selection of pop and rock music, but also dance music and rap, and it would carry us through, while focusing on the good, the bad and the interesting sides of society.
Yet the 1990s would not have been possible had it not been for some musicians that were up and coming in the late 1980s- before the Revolution of 1989- the ones that would make the 1990s the unforgettable decade that would set the precedent for the future. One of the musicians that led the procession was the music duo Roxette.
Consisting of Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, the Swedish pop group was formed in 1986 and its style of music consisted of pop and dance, with some contemporary hits to add to their storied list of songs produced. Yet their breakthrough came in 1988 with the release of the album “Look Sharp!”. With this album, five singles were released, all of which made it to the top 10 in one way or another through 1989 and into 1990. The album was an immediate commercial success in Sweden, selling over 140,000 copies within ten days of release. In the US, the album was certified platinum on 20 January 1990 by the RIAA for shipments in excess of one million units. It peaked at number four in the UK, where it spent over a year on the charts. It was certified platinum by the BPI in December 1990 for sales in excess of 300,000. The album set the foundation for multiple successes for the group over the course of the next two decades, as eight more albums were released, each one with at least three singles, some of them have garnered additional awards.
If there were three songs that defined 1989 and helped usher in the 1990s and a new era of change, they would be (in no certain order):
Dressed for Success
These three songs looked at society and its strive for success both for individuals as well as a whole. It defined the changes that were going to happen and changes which people can simply embrace and take advantage of. Yet during the first half of the 1990s, a lot of Roxette’s songs dealt with love and heartbreak, including:
Listen to Your Heart
Sleeping in My Car
How do You Do?
Spending my Time.
These songs were solely performed by Marie, whose soprano voice was moving to many, as if an angel was talking to the listener and showing him/her where to go. Marie’s career went back to the 1970s, but she’s best remembered for her time with Roxette, where for 30 years until her retirement in 2016, she and Per had a wonderful joyride, impressing her fans and winning the hearts of millions more. Roxette was one of the top 10 music groups of the 1990s and 2000s and there was no household in America or Europe that did not have an album from Roxette.
Sadly, after 17 years of battle, Marie Fredriksson died of cancer on 9 December, 2019. She was only 61. She had undergone years of treatment and operations until it was time to hang it up for her career and enjoy the last moments of her life. As I was compiling a tribute for Roxette, I ran across Marie’s farewell speech when the group was forced to cancel the last leg of a concert in 2016: “Sadly, now my touring days are over and I want to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful fans that (have) followed us on our long and winding journey.” Her partner’s response was a classic: “The joyride on the road is over now – but we sure had fun, didn’t we?”
My response: We did have one heckuva joyride- one that will last forever in our memories. You will be missed for helping usher in an era of opportunity and success, after years of division. Many thanks for that wonderful journey, Marie and God Bless. ❤