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Group Members: Per Gessle
All Music Guide:
Roxette were one of the biggest global pop acts of the 1980s, selling over 75 million records around the world and dominating the charts with songs like "The Look," "Listen to Your Heart," "Joyride," and "It Must Have Been Love." Hailing from Halmstad, Sweden, Roxette were a duo featuring vocalist Marie Fredriksson and songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Per Gessle. Fredriksson and Gessle first met in the late '70s, when she was a member of the pop combo Strul & Ma Mas Barn and he played with Gyllene Tider, one of Sweden's biggest groups of the late '70s and early '80s. In 1981, after Fredriksson's group broke up, she joined Gyllene Tider as backing vocalist for a concert tour, and later worked with them in the studio in the same capacity. In 1984, Fredriksson released her first solo album, Het Vind (Hot Wind) and Gessle contributed a song for the sessions; the same year, Gyllene Tider recorded their only English-language album, The Heartland Café, and Gessle once again invited Fredriksson to contribute to the sessions. For the American release, Gyllene Tider's American label, Capitol Records, edited the 11-song album down to a six-track EP, and shortened the title to Heartland. Capitol also felt the name Gyllene Tider might not register with U.S. listeners, so the group adopted the name Roxette, taken from a song by British pub rock icons Dr. Feelgood. The Heartland Café proved to be Gyllene Tider'd last album, and Gessle decided it was finally time for him and Fredriksson to record a project together. As Roxette, they cut a single in 1986, "Neverending Love," which was a major hit in Sweden, and a number of songs Fredriksson and Gessle had ear-marked for her third solo album became the basis of the first proper Roxette album, Pearls of Passion. In hopes of greater international success, Roxette wrote and recorded their material in English, but while Pearls of Passion was a hit at home, Capitol/EMI didn't bother to release the album in the United States. The same fate initially befell 1988's Look Sharp! until an American student studying in Sweden brought a copy of the album home to Minneapolis and persuaded a DJ at a local radio station to give "The Look" a spin. The song clicked with listeners, and soon Capitol rush-released Look Sharp! in the United States; both "The Look" and "It Must Have Been Love" went to number one on the singles charts, and the album went platinum, establishing Roxette in the States and kickstarting their career in Europe. Their next album, 1991's Joyride, also went platinum in America, and it was followed in 1992 by Tourism: Songs from Studios, Stages, Hotel Rooms and Other Strange Places, a collection of material recorded during the group's 1991 world tour. In 1994, Roxette released Crash! Boom! Bang!, which was successful in Sweden and Europe but failed to live up to the sales figures of their second and third albums in America. In 1996, Roxette went on hiatus after recording a Spanish-language album, as Gyllene Tider staged a reunion tour and Gessle released a solo album. Roxette returned to duty in 1999 with the album Have a Nice Day, and Room Service followed in 2001, with the duo making a high-profile appearance as part of the Eurovision Song Contest. However, in the fall of 2002, Roxette was forced to curtail their activities when Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor; over the next several years, she focused on her recovery and recorded solo material, while Gessle also pursued solo projects and staged another Gyllene Tider reunion. In 2008, Gessle surprised fans at a concert in Amsterdam when he brought out Fredriksson to sing several Roxette hits, and in 2009, the duo staged a comeback tour that sold out halls all across Europe and the Netherlands. With Fredriksson back in fighting shape, Roxette returned to the recording studio, and 2011's Charm School was their first album of new material in ten years, followed by another successful world concert tour.
Roxette is a Swedish pop rock duo, consisting of Marie Fredriksson (vocals) and Per Gessle (vocals and guitar). Formed in 1986, the duo became an international act in the late 1980s, when they released their breakthrough album Look Sharp!. Their third album Joyride, which was released in 1991, became just as successful as its predecessor. Roxette went on to achieve nineteen UK Top 40 hits and several US Hot 100 hits, including four US number-ones with "The Look", "Listen to Your Heart", "It Must Have Been Love", and "Joyride". Other hits include "Dangerous", "Fading Like a Flower", "Dressed for Success" and "The Centre of the Heart".
Before coming together to form the duo, Fredriksson and Gessle were already established artists in Sweden, with Fredriksson releasing a number of solo albums and Gessle being the lead singer and songwriter of Gyllene Tider, which had three No. 1 albums. On the advice of the managing director of their record label, they came together to record "Neverending Love", which became a hit single in Sweden.
After the release of Don't Bore Us, Get to the Chorus!, a greatest hits record, the duo took a hiatus from the mid-1990s before returning with the albums Have a Nice Day (1999) and Room Service (2001). They continued to chart in other territories, mainly in Europe and Latin America, where they earned various Gold and Platinum awards until the beginning of the new millennium. In 2002, the duo took a break from recording and touring when Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Gessle went on to release solo albums and reunited with Gyllene Tider before Roxette took to the stage together again for the first time in 8 years, in 2009, during Gessle's European Party Crasher tour. In 2011, they released Charm School, their first studio album in ten years. This was followed by Travelling a year later.
Their songs "It Must Have Been Love" and "Listen to Your Heart" continue to receive wide radio airplay, with both singles recently receiving awards from BMI for achieving four million radio plays. They have sold an estimated 60 million records worldwide, with over 10 million in certified units from Germany, the US and the UK, achieving gold and platinum certifications for Joyride and Look Sharp! in all three regions.
1979–1986: Formation 
Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson first met in Halmstad, Sweden, in the late 1970s. Gessle performed in Gyllene Tider, one of Sweden's most popular bands of the time, and Fredriksson in the less successful Strul and MaMas Barn (Mama's Children) before both embarked on solo careers. In 1981, Fredriksson sang for the first time with Gyllene Tider on stage and was featured as a background vocalist for a Swedish-language album the band released in 1982. Gessle also worked with ex-ABBA singer Frida, for a song that appeared on her 1982 album Something's Going On, setting music to a Dorothy Parker poem.
While working on her first solo album, Het vind (Hot Wind), Fredriksson performed more background vocals for Gyllene Tider's only album in English, The Heartland Café. The 11-track album was released in February 1984 and sold 45,000 copies in Sweden. According to Gessle, the group's first English-language release was in response to interest expressed by EMI's American label Capitol Records. Capitol took six of the tracks and released an extended play (EP) record in the US with an abridged title, Heartland, but the company insisted on a different name for the band. Gessle and the other members of Gyllene Tider (Swedish for "Golden Times" or "Golden Age") chose the title of a 1975 Dr. Feelgood song, "Roxette".
"I remember that Per had written a damn good song. I thought that Per and Marie would fit in as Per writes great music and Marie can sing a phone book and get it (to) sound good. Of course I’m a bit proud of getting the idea for Roxette". — Rolf Nygren
The newly-named Roxette issued one near-invisible release in the US, "Teaser Japanese", whose video reached MTV's studio but received no rotation to speak of. It, and subsequent singles, fared better in Sweden, and Gyllene Tider briefly toured the country to support the album. However, "the album died soon enough and the international career died before it even started", Gessle wrote. "We decided to put Gyllene Tider to rest... until further notice." Gessle then turned solo work, recording his second Swedish-language solo album, Scener, released in 1985 and again featuring Fredriksson on background vocals. While Fredriksson recorded her second solo album, Den sjunde vågen (The Seventh Wave).
It was then that the Managing Director of EMI, Rolf Nygren, suggested that Gessle and Fredriksson should sing together. Gessle translated a song called "Svarta glas" ("Black glasses") into English, which became their first single, "Neverending Love". It was released in the summer of 1986 under the name "Roxette" and reached the Swedish Top 10, selling 50,000 copies.
1986–1988: Pearls of Passion 
...while the album was a hit in Sweden, the rest of the world failed to pay much attention at all. And listening to the album, it's not that hard to tell why: nothing here is bad, but it lacks nearly all of the elements that made albums like Joyride and Look Sharp into massive hits just a few years later.
—Damas of Allmusic retrospectively reviewing Passion
After the success of "Neverending Love" in Sweden, Gessle and Fredriksson quickly recorded a full length album, translating songs Gessle had written originally for his third solo album. With the release of Pearls of Passion in October 1986, Roxette maintained their commercial momentum in Sweden with their next singles "Goodbye to You" and "Soul Deep". Some singles from Passion were released in other countries, however these international releases didn't emulate their Swedish success. The album was followed by a compilation of remixes of the same songs entitled Dance Passion.
In 1987, Fredriksson released her third solo album Efter stormen (After the Storm). Meanwhile, Roxette released the single "I Want You" in collaboration with Eva Dahlgren and Ratata. Later in the year, they released "It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For the Broken Hearted)" after EMI Germany asked the duo to come up with an intelligent Christmas single. The holiday themed song received some attention in their native country as Roxette prepared their next album, though EMI Germany decided against releasing the single. Pearls of Passion was re-released internationally in 1997, and included "It Must Have Been Love (Christmas for the Broken Hearted)" as a bonus track.
1988–1990: Look Sharp! 
In native Sweden, "Dressed for Success" and "Listen to Your Heart" were chosen as the first two singles from their second album Look Sharp!, as Gessle and EMI Sweden chose to highlight Fredriksson's singing. Gessle said "I always thought we should promote the songs Marie sang. Me being a lead singer wasn't part of the plan, not for me anyway." Both singles reached the Top 10 of the Swedish singles chart, while the album, which was released in Sweden in October 1988, held the No. 1 position for fourteen weeks. Music critic Måns Ivarsson was underwhelmed by the album, "To consist of two such original persons as Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle, the album sounds unbelievably conventional. Most striking are the lyrics. Gessle's once so subtle Swedish lyrics have became desolate English nonsense" The album won Roxette their first Rockbjörnen awards in Sweden and Gessle his first Grammis award in the category Best Composer.
When the third single from Look Sharp, "The Look" became another Top 10 single in their home country, Roxette were still unknown internationally. It was while studying in Sweden, that an American exchange student from Minneapolis, Dean Cushman, heard "The Look", and brought a copy of Look Sharp! home for the 1988 holiday break. He gave the album to a Minneapolis radio station, KDWB 101.3 FM. The station started playing "The Look" and based on positive caller feedback, the song became very popular, quickly spreading to other radio stations. The song became a radio hit before any Roxette product had been commercially released or promoted in the US market. The story was covered by radio, newspapers and TV in the US and in Sweden, with Gessle recently telling this as the story which highlighted the beginning of their international success. Fredriksson dismissed rumours that Cushman was paid to take the record to the radio station.
EMI had previously rejected Roxette as unsuitable for the American market and they did not have a recording contract there, but after the popularity of "The Look" in the US, EMI officials made the decision to release and market the single worldwide. "The Look" and pressed copies of Look Sharp! were issued in early 1989 to record stores and radio stations. "The Look" became their first No. 1 in the US on April 8, 1989, where it remained for one week. The breakthrough for Roxette became international when the song also topped the charts in 25 other countries, and at the end of the year, Billboard named "The Look" one of the 20 biggest Hot 100 singles of the year.
"The Big Bad Ballad. This is us trying to recreate that overblown American FM-rock sound to the point where it almost becomes absurd. We really wanted to see how far we could take it. When it hit big in the States we suddenly found ourselves lumped together with bands like Heart and Starship, which wasn't the intention behind Roxette at all. But we got out of that one... I hope."
—Gessle talking about "Listen to Your Heart".
"Dressed for Success", featuring Fredriksson on lead vocals with Gessle singing short parts, was the second international single. The single peaked at No. 14 on the Hot 100 as well as at No. 3 in Australia. "Listen to Your Heart" was released thereafter, it differed from previous singles and instead resembled the guitar-heavy ballads of Heart. Spending a single week at No. 1 in the US in November 1989 it bore the distinction of being the first US Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 to be not commercially available on 7-inch vinyl.
A fourth single, "Dangerous", was released at the end of the year, entering into the Hot 100 at the end of December. The single, a duet between Gessle and Fredriksson, spent two weeks at No. 2 on the Hot 100 in February 1990, and again becoming a worldwide success by reaching the Top 10 in important music markets such as Germany and Australia. "Dangerous" was released as a double A-sided single in the UK with "Listen to Your Heart".
"It Must Have Been Love" – Pretty Woman soundtrack 
It was around this time that Touchstone Pictures approached EMI and Roxette about contributing a song to the soundtrack of an upcoming film, Pretty Woman, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. Gessle has claimed that "It Must Have Been Love", by then a 2-year-old recording, was chosen because Roxette didn't have time to compose and record a new song. The film's producers turned it down, asking for another song, but Gessle declined to produce another song. Some weeks later after re-editing the film before release, the producers re-requested "It Must Have Been Love", but Roxette had to remove the Christmas lyrics. Gessle and producer Clarence Öfwerman then took the old recording, had Fredriksson replace a single Christmas-referenced line in the song and added some instrumentation and background vocal overlays.
Though not the first single released from the soundtrack, "It Must Have Been Love" would prove to be Roxette's most successful single release. The song spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in June 1990, three months after the film's release, and stayed for two additional weeks at No. 2, spending a total of seventeen weeks in the Top 40. Billboard named the song the No. 2 Hot 100 single of the year behind Wilson Phillips' "Hold On". The single also topped the charts in more than 20 other countries (including Australia) around the world. In Germany the single spent 9 months in the Top 75, and peaked at No. 3 in the UK, the duo's highest singles chart position there. The soundtrack went on to be certified three times platinum by the RIAA.
1991–1992: Joyride 
As 1990 wound down, Roxette completed its tour and returned to Sweden to record its follow-up to Look Sharp! The 14-track collection titled Joyride, which was released in March 1991, became a critical and commercial success. It topped the charts in a number of countries and became Roxette's best selling album. Their record company EMI invested almost 2 million dollars on promotion for the album, which stayed at No. 1 in Germany for 13 weeks, while staying on the US album chart for over a year. J.D. Considine of Rolling Stone magazine reviewed Joyride: "By emphasizing its sense of personality, Roxette delivers more than just well-constructed hooks; this music has heart, something that makes even the catchiest melody more appealing." The album's success brought the duo two Rockbjörnen awards for Best Swedish Album and Best Swedish Group, the second time they had achieved that feat.
"Joyride" the single became Roxette's first No. 1 in their home country. It also topped the charts in more than 25 countries around the world, including Germany, Australia and the US; it was their 4th and last US No. 1. The single also charted well in the UK and achieved success in Canada which resulted in the song being nominated in 1992 for a Juno Award in the category, Best Selling Single by a Foreign Artist. Its follow-up, "Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave)", a power ballad similar to "Listen to Your Heart", with Fredriksson on lead, spent a week at No. 2 in the US in July and achieved success in other big markets as well.
It was then that Roxette embarked on an ambitious Worldwide tour. The Join The Joyride! World Tour 1991/92 tour eventually reached more than 1.5 million fans in 107 concerts around the world, including a few dates in the US. On reviewing their Universal Amphitheater performance, Dennis Hunt of the Los Angeles Times said, "Fredriksson is squandering her talents in pop's low-rent district. She's clearly superior to Roxette's uncomplicated, hook-crammed material..."
"I believed this ("Spending My Time") was going to be our biggest hit ever, which might have happened if not our American record company had fired a lot of...ah, never mind."
"When Charles Koppelman took over the American [record] company in 1992 more than hundred people got replaced. Those folks who got sacked were the same people who made Roxette happen in 89-90-91."
—Gessle, on the downturn of Roxette in the US.
The end of 1991 saw the merger of SBK, Chrysalis and EMI record companies, to form EMI Records Group North America. The resulting merger saw many personnel changes that resulted in a downturn in the publicity for Roxette. Though Joyride was certified platinum and made impressive worldwide sales, subsequent singles from the album, the ballad "Spending My Time" and "Church of Your Heart", failed to reach the heights of previous singles in the US charts.
Music tastes in the US were changing, with the emergence of new genres such as new jack swing, grunge, harder-core rap and hip-hop. As William Ruhlmann of Allmusic later wrote, "Americans probably lost interest [in Roxette] at about the time that Nirvana came roaring in from the Northwest." In a 2009 interview with the BBC News, Gessle highlighted Nirvana and grunge music as part of the cause which contributed in Roxette's downturn of success. Although Roxette's commercial momentum in America was slowing down dramatically, elsewhere, singles from the Joyride album continued to become hits when "Spending My Time" and "The Big L." charted in many countries.
1992–1993: Tourism 
Roxette continued the Join the Joyride tour through into 1992. It was during this tour that most of the material for Tourism: Songs from Studios, Stages, Hotelrooms & Other Strange Places was recorded. Instead of releasing an album of brand-new material, Gessle and Fredriksson re-mastered older recordings, including several slated for but not included on Look Sharp! and Joyride. They also recorded some of their live performances, recorded a country music inspired version of "It Must Have Been Love" in a Los Angeles studio, and recorded new material in various locations around the world – an empty dance club, a hotel room – and compiled everything on to the album. Released in October 1992, Gessle and Fredriksson said Tourism was meant to "capture the energy within the band".
The first single off the album was "How Do You Do!" followed by the ballad "Queen of Rain" and an electrified version of the song "Fingertips", originally recorded acoustically for the album and re-titled "Fingertips '93" for single release. Singles from Tourism barely dented the American radio and record charts but in the rest of the world, the first single "How Do You Do!", hit the Top 5 in most European and South American countries. The album Tourism also charted well outside of the US, reaching No. 1 in Germany and Sweden, No. 2 in the UK as well as peaking at No. 5 in Australia. The duo's success reflected in an ECHO Award nomination for International Group of the Year. At home, Roxette won a Rockbjörnen Award for Best Swedish Group. It remains the last Rockbjörnen the duo has received. In October 1992, Fredriksson released her first solo album in Swedish for five years, titled Den ständiga resan (The Eternal Journey).
In early 1993, Roxette became the first non-native-English speaking artists to be featured on MTV's Unplugged series, though the songs from the performance were never released on an official Unplugged album. In the same year, Roxette recorded and released "Almost Unreal", a song originally slated for the film Hocus Pocus starring Bette Midler. However, the song was moved to the soundtrack of the film based on the Nintendo video game Super Mario Bros. Supported by an expensive video and ultimately receiving respectable airplay, "Almost Unreal" managed to briefly reach the lower end of the Billboard Hot 100 but charted highest in the UK reaching the Top 10, the group's first time there since "Joyride" two years before. Roxette themselves were dismissive about the song, "Not one of our most inspired moments.", Fredriksson said. While Gessle stated: "I still like the song in a way... but if you wanted to make a parody of Roxette, it would probably sound something like this." To coincide with the UK television premiere of the film Pretty Woman, "It Must Have Been Love" was re-issued in September 1993 and entered the UK and Irish singles charts for the second time.
1994–1998: Crash! Boom! Bang! and Don't Bore Us, Get to the Chorus! 
"MF: It was just before Christmas '93 and we were listening to the first playback of the Crash! Boom! Bang! album and realized we were all missing something. It all sounded so... perfectly grown up. PG: We had worked for a year, much too long, endless hours of studio time... I mean, I loved it but there was too little P-O-P."
—Roxette, on the first playback of Crash! Boom! Bang!
Roxette changed their musical style with the 1994 release of Crash! Boom! Bang!. Bryan Buss of Allmusic wrote, "They rock harder than on their pop-friendly albums prior to this, and the result shows growth but not the fun that made them so popular in the first place... Though the two have an edge on this album, they almost seem to have become a bit bored."
Although Crash! Boom! Bang! saw chart success (No. 1 in Sweden, No. 2 in Germany & Australia, No. 3 in the UK), it didn't sell as many as their previous albums. EMI America were reluctant to release the album, and instead promoted a shortened 10-track Favorites CD in association with McDonald's. The Favorites of Crash! Boom! Bang! CD reportedly sold about 1 million copies. It was noted by journalists that the McDonald's promotion CD and other CDs by Tina Turner, Garth Brooks and Elton John, led to US music retailers of the time being unhappy with the promotion on several fronts, including that it bypassed established music stores and that the price of the CD was way below normal wholesale costs. Some stores refused to sell the albums published by EMI, with one major chain protesting by temporarily pulling all products from CEMA (EMI's distribution wing) out of its sales and ad campaigns. Relations with EMI's North American subsidiary, never on the best of terms, collapsed after the release of this album. Crash! Boom! Bang! became the last Roxette release EMI would issue in the US, until Greatest Hits was released in 2011 on subsidiary label Capitol Records.
The first single release from Crash! Boom! Bang! was "Sleeping in My Car". The distortion guitar-heavy pop song, born out of anger and frustration of the album's grown up nature, reached No. 2 in Canada, as well as the Top 10 in 7 European countries (including No. 1 in Sweden) as well as the Top 15 in the UK, Australia and Germany. However in the US it was less successful, reaching only the Billboard Top 50. Subsequent releases, the title track "Crash! Boom! Bang!", "Fireworks", and "Run to You", were less successful but managed to reach the charts in some countries.
Roxette then embarked on another, albeit scaled-down, worldwide tour, skipping North America in the process. It was during this tour that Roxette became the first Western band to be allowed to perform in China (Workers' Indoor Arena, Beijing) since Wham! in 1985. The procedure to get permission for this concert had taken over a year, and included self-censoring the lyrics. In 2008 they were ordered to pay 4.5 million kronor in unpaid taxes to the Swedish Tax Agency, for money earned during the German part of 94/95 tour.
In October 1995, Roxette released their first greatest hits compilation Don't Bore Us, Get to the Chorus!, which reached the top 5 in many European countries including the UK, as well as the Top 10 in Australia. It featured four new songs, three were released as singles, including the ballad "You Don't Understand Me", co-written by Desmond Child. Also that year, a compilation of demos, B-sides and remixes, alongside some of the 1993 MTV Unplugged material, was released in Japan and parts of South America under the title Rarities.
Gessle briefly reunited with Gyllene Tider in 1996, then Roxette took instrumental masters of many of its ballads and recorded translated Spanish lyrics over them. The resulting album, Baladas En Español, sold well in Spanish speaking regions reaching 2× platinum in Spain and platinum in Argentina. The single "Un día sin ti" ("Spending My Time") accompanied by a video directed by Jonas Åkerlund, became their first Latin Pop Airplay chart entry. The duo then released solo albums, I en tid som vår (In a Time Like Ours) by Fredriksson and The World According to Gessle by Gessle, with both charting in Sweden.
1999–2001: Have a Nice Day and Room Service 
Gessle and Fredriksson reunited in 1998 to record material for a new Roxette album, Have a Nice Day, which was released in March 1999 and gave Roxette a comeback in continental Europe. It entered at No. 1 in Sweden and No. 2 in Germany. The first single, "Wish I Could Fly", became their highest charting UK single since 1993 (No. 11). In Sweden it charted at No. 4, their best position since "Sleeping in My Car". Although the second single, "Anyone", didn't chart well in Europe, "Stars", the third single, charted well in Scandinavian and German speaking countries. NME's review called Have a Nice Day "...another clever-clever bastard of an album which defies Doctor Rock". A review of "I Wish I could Fly" by Håkan Steen of Aftonbladet said "The come-back single is a disappointment. The lyrics which conveys a sense of distance in a relationship, are not particularly engaging." The album according to Billboard Magazine, was under discussion for release in the US but ultimately it was not released there.
In 2000, Fredriksson released a greatest hits compilation called Äntligen (At Last), which went on to be a big seller in Sweden, peaking at No. 1 for three weeks. Meanwhile, Roxette signed a US distribution deal with Edel Music, which re-released Don't Bore Us, Get to the Chorus!, replacing some non-US hits with songs from Have a Nice Day. To promote the release the duo did a small tour of America, performing at the Boston Mixfest and at the Virgin Megastore in Times Square. The single "Wish I Could Fly" included in the album reached No. 27 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and No. 40 on the Adult Top 40 tally.
Room Service followed in 2001 to a mixed response from critics. "Probably the best Roxette album since Joyride", wrote Leslie Mathew of Allmusic, "Room Service is an exciting, immediate, high-gloss pop gem that contains very little filler indeed." Per Bjurman from Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet was critical of the album, "It is not very good." he wrote. He did praise the three singles, "Real Sugar", "The Centre of the Heart" and "Milk and Toast and Honey", but ended the review with "Roxette is not finished. But soon, I suspect."
The album topped the Swedish charts and reached No. 3 in Germany, but received little attention in the UK. A penned US release through Edel America Records did not happen as the label was disbanded due to financial difficulties, though it did peak at No. 2 on CNN's Worldbeat album chart. The first single, "The Centre of the Heart" topped the charts in Sweden, made the Top 10 in Spain, and the Top 15 in Finland. The other singles, "Real Sugar", the album's opening track and "Milk and Toast and Honey" were less successful. Roxette again went on tour, this time in Europe only, as concerts planned in South Africa were cancelled after the September 11 attacks. On reviewing their Löfbergs Lila Arena concert, Bjurman from Aftonbladet said "Roxette succeed in all cases, to never leave the 80s.", criticising Roxette's playlist which consisted of some of their early hits. Johan Lindqvist from Göteborgs-Posten was more positive, scoring their Munich concert four stars out of five.
2002–2008: Compilations, solo albums & hiatus 
In 2002, at the Grammis ceremony, Roxette received a Music Export Prize from the Swedish Government. After that came a set of compilations, The Ballad Hits in late 2002 and The Pop Hits in early 2003. Each set contained a separate CD with material previously available and never heard before tracks. "A Thing About You" was released as the lead single from The Ballad Hits. The album was released in the UK on February 14, 2003, to coincide with Valentines day and entered the charts there at No. 23 before climbing to its peak position of No. 11 a week later. It also peaked in the Top 10 in Germany and The Netherlands. The single "Opportunity Nox" was released from The Pop Hits in 2003. The Ballad Hits which sold over a million copies within a year, helped the duo win a World Music Award as the Best selling Scandinavian artist in October 2003. In that year, Roxette were also awarded with achievement medals by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden "for appreciated achievements in Sweden and internationally".
In September 2002, Fredriksson was hospitalised after she received concussion during a fainting spell at her home. She was then diagnosed with a brain tumour, which was later successfully removed in surgery. Four months later, Swedish newspaper Expressen reported Fredriksson had been diagnosed with a second tumor. This turned out to be false and the newspaper issued an apology saying its report had no basis but dismissed demands from Fredriksson for compensation. During her recovery, she recorded her first-ever English-language solo album, The Change. The album which was inspired by her brush with mortality, entered the Swedish album chart at No. 1 in October 2004. With Fredriksson's illness and rehabilitation, the duo took a hiatus, allowing Gessle to release Mazarin (Cupcake) in 2003. It was his first Swedish-language solo album in 18 years and became very successful in his home country, topping the charts and winning numerous awards. One of the tracks, "På promenad genom stan" ("Strolling Through the Town"), featured Fredriksson singing back-up. In 2004, Gessle and Gyllene Tider reunited for a 25th-anniversary celebration that included the band's first album in 20 years, Finn 5 fel!, and another successful tour in Sweden.
In 2005, Belgian dance group D.H.T.'s trance-cover of "Listen to Your Heart" became a worldwide club hit. Originally released in Belgium in 2003, by the mid-2005, the song reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, and was certified gold in October by the RIAA. Also that year, several songs were released as re-mixes and covers. Among them: two prominent versions of "Fading Like a Flower", one a trance cover by German group Mysterio and one a sampling by Dancing DJs that reached the UK chart. In November 2005, while Gessle was in the middle of promoting his Son of a Plumber album, he and Fredriksson appeared at the Dorchester Hotel in London for an awards presentation by Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI). Gessle received two awards, the first for "It Must Have Been Love", which by that time had been played on US radio more than 4 million times, while he and co-songwriter Mats Persson also received an award for Dance Song of the Year for D.H.T.'s cover of "Listen to Your Heart". The ceremony marked the first time Gessle and Fredriksson had appeared in public together since before the onset of Fredriksson's brain tumour and subsequent surgery in 2002. When asked by an Aftonbladet reporter if there would be a Roxette reunion, Gessle replied, "We haven't decided yet. No doors are closed. We're still young". Fredriksson returned in 2006 with an album of Swedish cover songs, titled Min bäste vän (My Best Friend), while Gessle recorded two more solo albums, En händig man (A Handy Man) (2007) and Party Crasher (2008).
"They were a legitimately popular band, but they don’t fit neatly into the story of American pop music. The Swedish duo wasn’t a boy band like New Kids on the Block, they weren’t glammy enough to be hair metal, and vocalist Marie Fredriksson didn’t have the outsize personality to be a diva like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, or Janet Jackson. They were far from the only guitar-based pop act on the airwaves in the ‘80s, but they came too late to be mentioned alongside Journey, Survivor, or REO Speedwagon, and they didn’t have the rock legacy of Heart or Starship." –Chris Conaton from Popmatters reviewing Greatest Hits
In mid-2006, Roxette released to radio "The Rox Medley" to promote a forthcoming 20th Anniversary package. The medley included six Roxette hit singles: "The Look", "Joyride", "Listen to Your Heart", "Dangerous", "It Must Have Been Love" and "Fading Like a Flower (Everytime You Leave)". It was eventually released as b-side to the single "One Wish" and was also available to download. The 20th Anniversary package better known as The Rox Box was released on 18 October 2006 to commemorate Roxette's 20 years in the music industry. Spanning over 4 CDs and single DVD, it included two new singles, "One Wish", which was their first new single in four years and "Reveal". Both songs were also included on a new greatest hits album, Roxette Hits, which was released at the same time as The Rox Box. Nunstedt of Expressen was disparaging of Roxette Hits, giving the album two stars and ending the review, "...the CD subtitle Their Twenty greatest songs is a matter of discussion, I can only count eight hits."
2009–2010: Night of The Proms and European Tour 
Rumours started of a Roxette reunion when Gessle was interviewed by the BBC in April 2009. "Yeah, we've talked about it. It's really up to Marie." Gessle said. Online news sites also picked up on the possibility of a reunion. On 5 May 2009 an announcement was made that "Roxette would re-unite after 8 years and play for the first time on the Night of the Proms in Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany". The tour started on Friday, 23 October in the Sportpaleis Antwerp. Roxette were due to play the Night of the Proms back in 2002, but Fredriksson's illness meant they had to pull out.
Despite the Night of the Proms announcement, the first appearance of Roxette after 8 years was on 6 May 2009, during Per Gessle's concert in Amsterdam as part of his Party Crasher tour. Almost at the end of the concert, Gessle said: "I’d like you all to welcome an old friend of mine: Marie Fredriksson", then she joined the band to perform "It Must Have Been Love" and "The Look". Later she also appeared on stage with him in Stockholm, at the last concert of his solo tour, 9 May 2009. Later in July 2009 they took part in the New Wave festival in Latvia.
In January 2010 a concert at The Race Legends event in Sweden on 14 August was announced, followed by confirmation of other concerts in Russia, Denmark and Norway which took place during August and September 2010. On 18 June 2010, Roxette performed a one off set at Stockholm Concert Hall, performing "The Look" in front of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, during the gala concert on the day before her wedding. On 4 August 2010 Roxette played a 2 hour secret gig at Leifs Lounge, Hotel Tylösand, just outside Halmstad. This was seen as a dress rehearsal for the upcoming European tour. On 31 December 2010 Roxette performed in Poland at New Year's Eve concert, transmitted live from Warsaw internationally.
2011–2012: Charm School, Travelling and World Tour 
On 23 October 2009, the Swedish newspaper Expressen reported that Roxette were recording new songs. Per stated that he had been working on new material for an upcoming album since May 2009. In early November 2010, it was announced that the band would undertake their first world tour since 1995. Their eighth studio album, Charm School, was released in Europe on 11 February 2011 and peaked within the top 20 of eleven European album charts. The set also became their first since 1992's Tourism to reach No. 1 on the German album chart, where it was certified gold for shipments in excess of 100,000 units. The album was preceded by the single "She's Got Nothing On (But the Radio)" on 10 January 2011, which became Roxette's biggest hit in the German market since "How Do You Do!", and for several weeks was the fourth most-played song on radio in the world. Charm School also received a full commercial release in South America, debuting at No. 1 on the Argentinian album chart. The Charm School World Tour, their first in 15 years, started on 28 February 2011 in Kazan, Russia. It is expected to comprise up to 130 concerts and run until October 2012, with the band performing to over 800,000 people in the 79 concerts held in 2011 alone. On 15 November, Roxette played their first UK gig in 17 years at London's Wembley Arena, and in March 2012, they performed two concerts in China, after the Chinese Ministry of Culture gave them permission to play.
In early 2012, Gessle confirmed through his official Twitter account that recording for Roxette's ninth studio album, titled Travelling, had been completed. The fifteen track album and the first single "It's Possible" was released in March 2012.