Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Fantasy Girlfriend - 'Roxette'

I should, of course, more properly say Marie Fredriksson - since I have absolutely no interest in threesomes, nor in men, however hunky and rock-starry they may be (sorry to disappoint you, Per). Marie, however, the statuesque blonde singer with the Swedish pop duo who were so big in the late '80s and early '90s, has always had quite a hold over me.

The severely short hairstyle was a key part of the appeal. Though I like long hair too, a woman's neck is an area of particular fascination for me, so I do, on the whole, prefer short haircuts which show this off. She wore a lot of leather, too; that always helps! And, of course, there's something about Scandinavians (I am rather more often smitten with Norwegians and Danes, but it's hard to say no to a Swede).

Moreover, Ms Fredriksson is closely associated in my mind with my first trip to China (which was 18 years ago this month). Near the end of that three-month adventure, I found myself playing host to a motley crew of English teachers from various schools and colleges I'd visited out in the sticks, who were treating themselves to a rare weekend of 'excitement' in the big city of Wuhan, where I'd been based. On the Saturday evening they dragged me off to a nightclub - quite possibly the city's only one at that point - where we were just about the only people present and the drink was unaffordable. We stayed about an hour or so; a torture made bearable, I think, by the mellowing effect of one of my mate Toby's 'special cigarettes'. I kept myself entertained by watching the continuous loop of Roxette videos being shown on the TV screens. They were evidently very big in China at the time (I think they'd been one of the first foreign acts allowed to perform in the country, just a year or two earlier). I hadn't known they'd released so many songs and videos: there seemed to be at least 7 or 8 in the loop, most of which I'd never heard before. It was in these rather odd circumstances that I developed a slight fixation on the lovely Marie.

She's an inspiringly tough and brave lady too, returning to performance after a very serious run-in with cancer a decade ago. And she's still looking very striking in her fifties. The band played in Beijing a week or two ago... but I'm not quite enough of a fan to pay top dollar for a show like that. My music-mad buddy Badr went to see them and had a good time, although he noted that the attendance was a little disappointing (the gig didn't seem to be that well promoted, and it was on a Monday, for heaven's sake - NOBODY goes out on a Monday! - but the Wukesong Arena is a HUGE venue, so even a 60% turnout is a lot of people).

Here's one of their biggest hits, The Look.

Hmm, I find it's not nearly so arresting when I'm not spliffed up in a dreary Chinese nightclub....

When I started searching YouTube just now, I was reminded that the great English blues-rock band Dr Feelgood did a song called Roxette back in the '70s (I wonder if that's where our Swedes got the idea for the band name?). I think I'll throw that in for good measure.

Ah yes, that's much better!!

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