Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Roxette, “The Look”
27 years ago today, Roxette was looking sharp atop the Billboard Hot 100, having ascended to the top spot with their very first single, but the story of how a Swedish pop duo who were utter unknowns in America found their way to the top of the US charts is a remarkable one, and the odds of something like it happening today are virtually nil. Heck, it’s still kind of nuts that it happened at all!
Believe or don’t, but the story starts with an American exchange student named Dean Cushman, who left his home in Minneapolis to study in Sweden, and while he was there, he fell in love with “The Look” and picked up a copy of Roxette’s Look Sharp! album to bring home on his holiday break. While he was there, he passed it along to KDWB 101.3 FM in Minneapolis, and they started playing “The Look.” Listeners loved it, so they kept playing it, and its success spread to other radio stations. The catch: when the song first became a radio hit, Roxette had yet to have anything released commercially in America!
Needless to say, it didn’t take long for EMI to remedy this situation, but by the time Look Sharp! was released, the buzz on Roxette was so significant that the album debuted at #50 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, which was a virtually unheard-of feat for a debut album in the pre-internet era. Roxette would go on to have four #1 hits in America, the others being “Listen to Your Heart,” “It Must Have Been Love,” and “Joyride,” but when it comes to the single that’s generally defined as their signature song, it’s likely forever going to be “The Look.”