’90s No. 1s Revisited: “It Must Have Been Love”
The eleventh No. 1 song of the 1990s was “It Must Have Been Love” by Swedish duo Roxette. At the time of this song’s release, Roxette was in the middle of a three-year hot streak in the U.S. The singles they released from 1988-1991 peaked at Nos. 1, 1, 2, 1, 1 and 2, in order. “It Must Have Been Love,” off the Pretty Woman soundtrack, kept audiences warm between their smash 1988 album Look Sharp! and 1991’s Joyride. Outside the aforementioned streak, Roxette never had another Top 10 single in the U.S., and they haven’t been seen on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1994’s “Sleeping In My Car,” which peaked at No. 50 but happens to be one of our favorite songs of that year. Roxette has, however, continued to be popular elsewhere in the world, particularly in Germany, Switzerland and their native Sweden. Incidentally, their 1999 single “Wish I Could Fly,” not pushed in the U.S., is one of the best songs of the decade, period. Check it out sometime.
“It Must Have Been Love” is a ballad about the end of a relationship that the singer appears to have under-appreciated at the time. It’s a fitting theme for Pretty Woman, a movie about an unlikely connection between a wealthy but disenchanted businessman and an adorable but prostituting prostitute.
Take a listen:
Roxette is an act whose songs either seem to be amazing (e.g., “Spending My Time“) or pretty damn irritating (e.g., “The Look“). “It Must Have Been Love” falls into the former category. It’s an incredible songwriting achievement, with a simple, catchy and emotionally resonant melody, brilliant production and a pitch-perfect vocal by Marie Fredriksson. We remember being flat-out dumbfounded when VH1 and Blender magazine put it at No. 9 on their ranking of the most awesomely bad love songs ever. No idea what it was doing there.
As we mentioned, Roxette was red hot when this song blew up. Pretty Woman was a mega-hit at the box office, so the song’s association with it added to its widespread popularity. It was the No. 2 song of the year on Billboard’s year-end ranking. And Roxette had original, kickass hair.
Does it hold up? We think so, thanks to spot-on songwriting by Per Gessle, who takes very purposeful care of every aspect of the song — beautiful verses, a catchy chorus, and a genius instrumental bridge. This is a song we expect to be repeatedly covered for years to come, as it can work in any genre.
Dopeness: 5 out of 5 Birkenstocks
’90s No. 1s Revisited is a regular feature on “Was It Dope?” where we walk through every No. 1 song of the 1990s on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in order, give it another listen, and answer two critical questions: Was it dope? And does it hold up?