Roxette – Why Don’t You Bring Me Flowers

“It’s a track I have difficulty pinning down.”

Tim: It’s just over thirty years since Roxette’s first single, and yet here they are, still banging out the tunes. The third off the tenth album, which so far we’ve quite enjoyed. Care to press play?

Tim: It’s no It Just Happens – think the time’s coming up to guarantee that a place in the shortlist for Tim’s Favourite Track of 2016 – but it’s a solid third track from an album. To be honest it’s a track I have difficulty pinning down.

Tom: Yes, that’s fair. These sort of user-generated videos just tend to distract me from the song, so I had it in a background tab: and I realised that my attention was ebbing and flowing. It’s… it’s nice? I can’t think of a better adjective.

Tim: The ah-ah-ah-aaah-ah-ah-ah-ah running throughout is very pleasant, and there’s no disputing the quality to production, but then the quiet openings to both verses are an odd choice, though – the pacing of the first vocal couplet seems very odd without the backing underneath to give it a bit of context.

Tom: Right! As soon as the track starts to kick back in — notably that very 90s synth bit out of the middle eight — I really like it again.

Tim: Sure, and also the slow-paced portion of the first chorus is lovely, in a Cara Mia style – though with the weird structure of the song it seems almost like the middle eight got dropped in 90 seconds too early. In fact, I think that’s my main issue with it – it doesn’t quite follow a structure I’m used to, and now I feel a bit disconcerted. It’s very nice, though.

Roxette – Some Other Summer

“Listen to that intro! That’s such a good intro!”

Tim: I don’t know why, but I always get really excited when a new Roxette track comes along – I’d never think of them if asked what my favourite band was, but they do have a tendency to produce great tracks. So let’s push play and see.

Tom: Listen to that intro! That’s such a good intro! And it leads into a great song, too.

Tim: Still going with the repeat to fade, which is disappointing, especially when it takes up a full third of the song; on the other hand, that chorus itself is very enjoyable, the verses also entirely hit the spot, and all in all I’m put in mind of a Pet Shop Boys, BWO style track, and for that reason I like it a lot.

Tom: That’s a good comparison: this sounds a really solid BWO track, particularly that crash into a very different middle-eight — a middle-eight that was initially disappointing, but by the end: blimey, that’s well produced.

Tim: Yes, I’d have liked a lot more coming out of it than a standard chorus repeated and slightly building until the fade, mind, but the first two thirds: jolly excellent.

Tom: You know what? For once, I don’t mind that at all. That final chorus is switched around enough that I don’t mind. Although there’s got to be a better alternative to fading it out.

Roxette – It Just Happens

“Talk about don’t bore us, get to the chorus.”

Tim: Yesterday Rick Astley, today Roxette. Apparently we’ve fallen through time so, as ever, be careful around your parents and all that.

Tim: And talk about don’t bore us, get to the chorus. It takes guts to open a song with the chorus – it’s a bit like starting a TV episode with a shocking scene and then showing a “48 hours earlier” caption, because if the rest of it doesn’t measure up then your audience will switch off fairly quickly. Here, though, I’ve no qualms with it – it sets up the scene nicely, blasts us in the face with the message and then steps back a bit to explain it.

Tom: “In medias res” is the technical term — by which I mean, the Latin term — and it’s generally a successful gambit in film. If this is the start of a trend in music, I’m happy with it.

Tim: Another nice thing, which is exactly the same that was present during their last revival: a mixture of their originals 80s sound and modern sounds in there as well.

Tom: It is! It’s never going to storm the charts, but it’s a good opener to a new album that their fans will love.

Tim: Hopefully, yes. Modern pop backing, but some distinctly previous vocals in the chorus (to the extent that I’m sure I’ve heard that “if it’s right or wrong”/”will always find a way” lead in to the chorus before in another old song).

Tom: And that chorus does, unfortunately, keep reminding me of the Lonely Island’s “I Just Had Sex”. It’s those aa-aa-aahs in the background.

Tim: I haven’t listened to that song in ages, so can’t remember it; I won’t play now in case it ruins this. Also from the 80s, and less welcome here: the fade out, as it really doesn’t belong in a 2010s song. Basically, that aside, this is more or less exactly what I didn’t know I would have wanted from a new Roxette track. Excellent work, everybody.

Roxette – Speak To Me (Bassflow Edit)

My word, does it have a chorus and a half.

Tim: The original of the song is on the album; the single version is this, which is quite a bit more energetic. And my word, does it have a chorus and a half.

Tom: If this is the energetic version, then I’d hate to hear the — wait, the chorus just kicked in. Bloody hell.

Tim: Isn’t it good? You hear it, and it’s just, YEAH. It’s a closing chorus, really, all the way through, and it’s great. Annoyingly, the verses don’t get anywhere near it in terms of quality – they’re just a bit dull and fillery.

Tom: Damn right.

Tim: The weird thing is that when you put those together, you sort of get the impression of three final choruses, each being preceded by a somewhat lacklustre bridge, which is interesting – as though the song’s on repeat but the first half is missing. I don’t mind so much, though – the chorus is really what the song’s about, and it’s a belter.

Tom: I want to use that chorus in the finale of a movie. And I don’t even make movies.

Roxette – She’s Got Nothing On (But The Radio)

Cleverest Track Title of the Year.

Tim: Last time we met Roxette, their new song kept getting pulled from YouTube so we had to make do with an old (albeit good) track. It’s finally found a permanent place, though, in the form of a proper video, so let’s have a look.

Tom: First of all, I think we’ve already found the award winner for Cleverest Track Title of the Year.

Tom: How are Roxette still good? This somehow manages to have rocky verses, electronic arpeggios in the chorus, and the usual slightly-androgynous vocals, and it’s still bloody good. Incidentally, how ace are those arpeggios? (I think that’s what they’re called, anyway.)

Tim: Agreed, the choruses are good, but the pauses annoy me – singing along (it is very singalongable), it seems as though the ‘but the radio’ should just follow so naturally from ‘she’s got nothing on’ that it feels a bit odd when it doesn’t.

Tom: It’s easy to think Roxette were a one-hit wonder with “It Must Have Been Love” and maybe a couple of others – but they’re not. They’ve been going for years, have a World Music Award, and – no kidding – achievement medals from the King of Sweden.

I’m docking a few points for the terrible call-and-response bit in the first verse (“Really?” “Oh.” “Yeah?” in the right channel) though.

Tim: That’s a thing that’s a bit odd – the intro and verses could come straight from a Pink song (Get This Party Started, perhaps), but the choruses and bridge sound like something entirely different, almost like something the new Pet Shop Boys track could (should?) have been.

Tom: Other than that it’s a pretty solid track. More like this, please.

Saturday Flashback: Roxette – Stars

During the final chorus, everything just clicked together.

Tim: Much like yesterday’s Lili & Susie, here’s an act from the olden days with a new single out.

Tom: Blimey, really?

Tim: Oh yes, but that single, She’s Got Nothing On (But The Radio), has rather rudely been taken off YouTube.

Tom: That’s a pity, because that title has a lot of promise.

Tim: Doesn’t it just? Anyway, let’s take a look at this instead from 1999, in which we can see the effectiveness of aggressive singing.

Tim: This wasn’t as successful as many of her other tracks, but now sounds considerably less dated than most.

Tom: I’ll agree with you there – I wouldn’t have placed this as being over a decade old.

Tim: Also it has a children’s choir in the chorus, and that’s always fun.

Tom: No they’re not! They’re horrible. There’s never been a good song with a children’s choir in it, with the exception of William Shatner’s cover of Common People.

Tim: Oh, please.

Tom: I know what that link is before I click it. It’s the St. Winifred’s School Choir, isn’t it? There’s only one good performance of that, and it’s the time they were on Tiswas.

Tim: Man, you’re mean. Anyway, if you fancy something a bit more energetic, try a recent Almighty 7″ Mix, although I prefer this – it’s dance-y enough, and the choruses are much better.

Tom: I wasn’t really feeling this song until the final chorus, during which everything just clicked together for some reason. This is lovely.

Tim: A few things about the video:

  • If I was that bloke, I’d be more likely to get a restraining order than an engagement ring.
  • It’s a slight shame she couldn’t learn the words to the chorus before they started filming.

Tom: But the ducks, Tim! How could you not have immediately mentioned the ducks who quack in time with the lyrics?

Tim: Oh, good lord – how could I not have noticed that? It’s incredible. It may, however, be that my mind was still reeling from her dancing at about 1:12. This can only be described as utterly exquisite, especially when it looks like her head is going to fall off. I tried to imitate it it, but my neck just refused to bend that far.

Tom: That must be CGI. Surely that’s CGI? Wait. 1999. Damn.