Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Roxette - It Must Have Been Love (1990/ No. 3/ 22 weeks/ EMI)

Hurray! A POWER ballad - Maybe nobody did rock-styled Europop better than Roxette in the 1990s. The reason for this is found in the title of their first greatest hits album Don't Bore Us! Get To The Chorus!, a sentiment which I can only wholeheartedly endorse.

Everything in this single serves to build up the listeners' anticipation to hear - and participate in - a great vast singalong, wave your hands in the air, communal eruption of choric pleasure.

We start with a prefiguring of the chorus' motif, in restrained tones from the male supporting voice;

It must have been lorve
But its ovfer now...

There are just two verses here. They serve their purpose well enough, in establishing that this is a lost love song (as if we haven't gathered that already). They range from being effective in a sketchy scene-setting functional manner;

I wake up lonely.
Is there a silence?
In the bedroom

- To being a bit tongue tied in a rather charming sort of way;

In and outside
I turn to water
Like a teardrop
In your palm

The chorus, however is the type of thing that you think that you already know the first time that you hear it (and if you remember 'I Know Him So Well' by Elaine Paige & Barbara Dickson, that might be part of the reason...);

It must have been lorve!
It must have been GOOD!
But I lost it some-how!

Having hit upon this definitively strong passage, what Roxette do with it is fabulous; The prefiguring before the first verse, then the first appearance of the chorus, and then - quite magnificently - the second time that we get the chorus it doubles in size, with a slow middle-eight bit;

It's where the water flows...
It's where the wind blows...

That takes up less time than another verse would and means that, having come up for air, we can immediately immerse ourselves in more chorus, this time with the ending that we'd been led to expect ("From the mo-ment we TOUCHED! Till the time had RUN OUT!"). Then having gone though it again, the logical next step occurs. We hear it again, but bigger, with backing vocals, echoing the lyrics and adding an exciting new harmony to the tune.

That was fun! I'd like to hear that again!

A word of praise about the singing, which manages in its full-heartedness to be lusty without resorting to caterwauling. And no horrible guitar (or even worse, saxophone) solos weigh the thing down with leaden emoting, as is often the case in inferior works of this kind.

If you wanted to criticize this, I suppose that you could say that its a pretty generic portrait of lost love, and doesn't exactly tell any sort of story. But really, who cares, when Roxette achieve four minutes of relentless catharsis?

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