Year in review 2003: Cupcakes, anyone?
The year 2003 was full of happy surprises. All in all, it was a year of Per Gessle, even though Marie did come public with some happy news, too. Per's Swedish solo album "Mazarin" broke the Swedish hit list records by staying seven weeks in a row at #1 on the album list together with "Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång)" on the single list, also on the top spot for seven weeks.
But, let's start from the beginning…
In January, Roxette's "Ballad Hits" compilation had just been released, but the fans were already eagerly looking forward to its companion, the "Pop Hits" compilation. The new single, "Opportunity Nox," had also been revealed. However, the big news in January was that the King of Sweden was to honor Per and Marie with a King's Medal of the Eighth Size with Royal Blue Ribbon for their achievements. "It's nothing one could have dreamed of when we first shared a rehearsal space in Halmstad in the '70s," said Per in a press statement. It was at first uncertain if Marie would attend, but she did and received the medal from the king looking in good health.
The uncertainty of Marie's attendance was due to an article published by the Swedish tabloid Expressen. The paper claimed that Marie had suffered a relapse with her cancer. Marie got very upset and demanded a public apology and half a million Swedish kronor in damages. The money would then be given to The Cancer Foundation. The newspaper did apologize, but refused to pay and Marie took the case to court. The final verdict is yet to come.
Summer of Per Gessle
In May, Capitol Records revealed that a Swedish solo album by Per Gessle would be released on June 16. The first single, "Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång)", was to be released already in May. The album, "Mazarin" (the name of an almond-flavored traditional Swedish pastry), was recorded in Christoffer Lundquist's home studio in southern Sweden.
"It's been a totally fantastic recording," Per said in the first interview about the new album. "An incredible recording really. We stayed in a hostel and worked basically around the clock, five weeks down in a snow-covered Skåne. Christoffer and Clarence shared my dream to make a warm, immediate and yet kind of thoughtful album. Small town. Small thoughts but Big feelings. I don't think I can get any more personal than this."
The acoustic instruments and meaningful lyrics together with the very Gessle-ish easy to listen pop music sound were something the Swedish audience fell in love at first hearing. The single - and a couple of weeks later the album - skyrocketed to the top of the charts. "Mazarin" sold platinum in a week, double platinum in a fortnight and in November it reached incredible four times platinum, 240,000 copies.
People were begging for Per to go on a tour. First he was reluctant. Summer tours are something you should have planned months ahead. Venues were already full-booked and another problem was that the musicians of Per's band were signed for other artists' tours. Fortunately, everything worked out, and soon Per was happy to announce a summer tour. The "Mazarin" tour was as big success as the album. According to Expressen, 157,000 people saw Per live in the 15 concerts of the tour. The tour was later extended to Oslo and Helsinki, making it the "shortest world tour ever," as Per said to the crowd in a packed Helsinki rock club.
After a busy summer and early autumn, Per had time for some charity. In October, he performed live at the "Världens Barn" gala to raise funds for children in need. In December, he did a painting for AIDS charity and later in the month the Swedish Salvation Army published a book "Vårt dagliga bröd" (Our Daily Bread), which contains bread recipies by celebrities, Per amongst them.
Awards, awards, awards…
Per, Marie and Roxette were awarded several occasions during the year 2003. As said, in January Per and Marie received a medal from the King of Sweden. In June, Radio NRJ awarded Roxette as being one of the most played acts on NRJ Sweden. In October, Roxette was awarded at World Music Awards as the best-selling Scandinavian act of the year 2002. Per and Marie are also individually named as candidates for the jury's special Honorary Award in Swedish Grammis awards.
Naturally, due to Per's success with the "Mazarin" album, he has been recently awarded many times. He received two awards for "Här kommer alla känslorna" at the Swedish Hit Music Awards: the best Swedish song and the most played song on Radio Rix. He has also been nominated in three categories in Aftonbladet's Rockbjörnen awards and in two categories in Swedish Radio's P3 Guld awards.
To be seen in 2004
The first rumors about a Gyllene Tider 25th anniversary tour in summer of 2004 came as early as in last January, but the final announcement wasn't made until December. The tour dates are not yet clear, but the tour will probably start in Halmstad, the band's home town. There will also be a major Gyllene Tider exhibition in the Halmstad museum next summer, so better start saving money for a trip to Halmstad!
Marie recently came public for the first time since January and told Aftonbladet that she's been working on English solo material. She's recovering from her illness, and with any luck, we'll see her release something during next year. Gyllene Tider may also release an album (or just a shorter EP) next year. Roxette will probably be on break for 2004, but you'll never know what happens in the year 2005!
Releases in 2003 (the list may be incomplete)
- Roxette: Opportunity Nox (single)
- Roxette: The Pop Hits (greatest hits compilation)
- Roxette: The Ballad Hits (USA release)
- Roxette: Ballad & Pop Hits - The Complete Video Collection (DVD)
- Per Gessle: Här kommer alla känslorna (på en och samma gång) (single)
- Per Gessle: Mazarin (album)
- Per Gessle: På promenad genom stan (single)
- Per Gessle: En mazarin, älskling? (live DVD)
- Per Gessle: Tycker om när du tar på mej (single)
- Rikard Wolff: En enda natt (track on album "Du Får Mig (Om Jag Får Dig)", music written by Per)
- What For: Depuis La Nuit des Temps (single by a French group, music written by Per)
- Monia Sjöström: Mannen med gitarr (track on album "Söderns hjärtas ros", music written by Per)
- Miio: När vi två blir en (single, cover version of the old Gyllene Tider hit)
- Miio: På värt sätt (album, contains three cover versions of old Gyllene Tider tracks)
Technical errors may occur.