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On The Number Ones, I review every #1 single in historyBillboardHot 100, beginning with the chart's inception in 1958 and working its way up to the present.


Julia Roberts sits in the limo, huddled and trying not to notice, as Beverly Hills disappears around her. From the hotel's elegant balcony, Richard Gere watches as his car fades into the distance. She's a sex worker and he's a corporate vampire yuppie who hired her to spend time with him while he's in Los Angeles on business. They have developed feelings for each other. (He also saved her from being raped by his friend George Costanza, a scene that will age strangely in all sorts of ways.)

In a few minutes, Gere will show up at Roberts' apartment building, hanging from the sunroof of his limousine listening to opera at full volume, then clutching a bouquet of flowers between his teeth so he can climb the fire escape. But it is not now. Right now is the sad part. It's goodbye, the moment before the end of the endorphin rush. Anyone who has ever seen a romantic comedy will know that this is a false ending, that we are just setting up for the big fairy tale ending. But everyone involved will have to suspend disbelief for a while, and the soundtrack is a big part of that.

for 1990Beautiful womanArguably the greatest and most beloved romantic comedy of all time, the soundtrack to the faux final moment is a Christmas carol written three years earlier as a failed bid for German radio. When the failed Christmas carol soundtracked Julia Roberts and Richard Gere's sad moment, it became a worldwide hit. For a few years, that's how it was for Roxette.

Roxette's career is something of an adventure: Two Swedish pop veterans, unknown outside their homeland, take off across the globe after an American exchange student returns home from Sweden and convinces his local radio station to start playing your song. After Roxette's unlikely breakup with "The gaze”, the duo went on to produce hits, including another chart-topper in the power ballad “listen to your heart.” And then thanksBeautiful woman, Roxette went back to their catalog and hit the world with a slightly altered version of a Christmas song they had recorded when they couldn't be arrested outside of Sweden.

Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson did not have American stardom in mind when they formed Roxette. Instead, as Gessle later explained, "the duo wanted to do something in English and see if we could get a top 20 hit in Germany." At first the plan didn't work. When Roxette released their debut albumpassionsperlerin 1986 a couple of singles made the top 10 in Sweden, but Germany was not interested. Roxette signed with EMI in Sweden, but none of the other national divisions of the label wanted anything to do with the duo. Finally, as Per Gessle recalls, someone at EMI Germany pointed out that there weren't many Christmas songs in 1987 and that Roxette should "make a clever Christmas single".

Per Gessle wrote "It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken-Hearted)", an operatic lackluster number about being forced to spend the holidays alone, specifically to accomplish that task. The song follows a fairly standard power ballad format: booming tight drums, Edge-esque guitar echoes, tinkling keyboard notes. By the late 80s, these sounds were standard, as were the emotions. But Roxette, as always, had a way with pop clichés. They came up with big, majestic melodies and delivered them with clarity and precision. Marie Fredriksson, an absolutely powerful singer, moaned with focused passion and sold Gessle's jarring and vaguely linguistically confused lyrics like she was going through hell in the studio booth.

But for whatever reason, the folks at EMI Germany heard "It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken-Hearted)" and decided it wasn't what they wanted. The Roxette song reached number 4 in Sweden, but EMI didn't even release the single in Germany.

Two years later, Roxette no longer had to worry about their label refusing to release their records in Germany. After "The Look", Roxette was huge all over the world and busy. The duo released a host of songs from their 1988 second album.Sharp look!as singles, and their world tours and promotional duties kept them busy. Those songs also continued to hit. After "Listen To Your Heart" fell from number 1, Roxette released "Dangerous", the final single fromSharp look!, and peaked at number 2 in March 1990. ("Dangerous" is a 7.)

When Disney subsidiary Touchstone Pictures approached Roxette about a song for a new romantic comedy, Roxette was simply too busy to write anything new. The duo sent Touchstone their old Swedish records, as well as the demos they had recorded for their next album. Touchstone music director Chris Montan, who is still president of music at Disney, fell in love with "It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken-Hearted)." ButBeautiful womanit wasn't a Christmas movie, so Montan needed the group to tweak the song a bit to make it fit.

Tuning "It Must Have Been Love" wasn't exactly a difficult thing to do. The song only mentioned Christmas once, so Gessle kept Marie Fredriksson's original vocals intact and only changed the word "Christmas" to "winter". Gessle also removed the fake sleigh bell sounds from the song's intro. (Honestly, I could have saved them. I wouldn't have known they were carol effects without being told.) The famous "It Must Have Been Love" was hardly different from the single Roxette had released in Sweden in 1987. But Touchstone's Chris Montan was absolutely right. "Must have been love" takes care of thatBeautiful womanscene beautiful; it might as well have been written for the movie. And even though pop music had changed between 1987 and 1990, "It Must Have Been Love" still absolutely worked on the radio.

There's always an amusing disconnect in Roxette's lyrics: the wry poetry that can occur when English isn't a writer's first language. "It Must Have Been Love" doesn't have the delicious absurdity that "The Look" does, but the song's lyrics are still halfway to total gibberish: "Lay a whisper on my pillow/ Leave winter on the floor/ Me awake alone, this silence in and around the bedroom. Still, if you're looking for emotional resonance, "It Must Have Been Love" has it.

"It Must Have Been Love" is about a moment after the breakup when you have to look back and consider if your feelings were really real, if you were both suffering from mutual delusion or what. The towering chorus conveys that confusion well enough: "It must have been love, but it's over now / It must have been good, but somehow I lost it." (Once the word "Christmas" is removed, "It Must Have Been Love" loses a bit of its spirit, since post-breakup Christmas really is the worst.) The song doesn't have the odd melodic punch of "Listen To Your Heart," but the comes close. The song delivers the big clichés of American studio pop with a rare sense of meticulous cleanliness. Much of that is due to Marie Fredriksson, who howls the song with real power, especially after the obligatory key shift occurs.

A Fred BronsonBillboard Book of hits nummer 1, says Per GessleBeautiful womandirector Garry Marshall liked "It Must Have Been Love" so much that he re-edited the scene around the song. But when Roxette had the chance to seeBeautiful womanon the Disney site, Gessle was disappointed: "Our song was [played] for almost a minute, yet it was really edited." Gessle had never had a song on film before, and he thought the song would exist at the center of everything. That "It Must Have Been Love" scene is a pretty little beat inBeautiful woman, but the film far exceeded everyone's expectations, as did the song.

Beautiful womanit had been in development for a long time before it was finally released. For a while, it was supposed to be a hard-hitting drama about addiction and control, but Disney chief Jeffrey Katzenberg demanded that the film be rewritten as a kind of Cinderella story. (In retrospect, it's a really weird artistic decision, but it worked.) Many of the stars of the time wanted nothing to do withBeautiful woman. Al Pacino and Burt Reynolds both turned down the male lead, before the role eventually went to an icy Richard Gere, who had had plenty of back-to-back flops. Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan and Michelle Pfeiffer passed on the female lead before it was passed on to the relatively unknown 21-year-old Julia Roberts. It's downright confusing to imagine any of these alternate reality versions ofBeautiful womanfoundry. (maybecould have worked with Meg Ryan?) But thatBeautiful womancouple clicked. Richard Gere's career skyrocketed and Julia Roberts became one of the biggest movie stars in the world almost overnight.

Beautiful womanopened in March 1990 and debuted at the top of the box office, ending the three-week reign ofThe hunt for Red October. Over the next few months,Beautiful womanremained huge, trading the #1 spot back and forth with live-actionTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtlesmovie. Finally,Beautiful womanit earned $178 million at the domestic box office.

In 1990, only three films did better than that:Home alone,Ghost, yDances with Wolves.Beautiful womanit was also a worldwide hit, more than doubling its run in North America. In a moment,Beautiful womanit was the highest-grossing film in Disney history. IsstillDisney's highest grossing R-rated film, and I imagine it will hold that title for a long time, at least unless we get the promised Marvel Cinematic Universe.Dead poolcontinuation.

HeBeautiful womanThe soundtrack was also a success. It ended up being a triple plantino. The first two singles from the soundtrack were relatively minor. The Red Hot Chili Peppers”show me your soul"completely missed the Hot 100 and Natalie Coles"wild women do” peaked at No. 34. (It's astrangesoundtrack.) But "It Must Have Been Love" was released as a single in May, after the film had already been on the air for two months, and became Roxette's third US No. 1 hit. The song also went global. In Germany, where EMI did not want to release the single in its original form, "It Must Have Been Love" peaked at #4. It must have felt good.

Efter "It Must Have Been Love", denBeautiful womanthe soundtrack produced another major hit. British dance-pop duo Go West peaked at number 8 with "King If Wishful Thinking". (It's a 7). At the time, Roxette was back in Sweden working on her next album. The duo's pop instincts remained strong. Before long, Roxette will be back in this column.


ADDITIONAL RHYTHMS:Here's the big, flashy version of "It Must Have Been Love" that Shirley Bassey released in 1995:

(Shirley Bassey's top-charting single, "" from 1964gold finger", peaked at #8. is a 9)

BONUS BONUS BEATS:Here's the elegantly simplistic cover of "It Must Have Been Love" that Kathleen Edwards released in 2013:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS:Here is the scene from the very nice 2019 film.long shotwhere Seth Rogen - successfully! — uses "Must have been love" to pick on Charlize Theron:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS:In 2019, a few days after Marie Fredriksson's death, the Swedes' first aid box and Maja Francis sang a live version of "It Must Have Been Love" for Swedish radio. Here is the video of the cover:

BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEAT:Here's Kelly Clarkson belting out "It Must Have Been Love" on a 2020 quarantine edition of her talk show:

(Kelly Clarkson will eventually appear in this column.)

ASTERISK:In the 1990s,BillboardThe Hot 100 got extremely weird.Billboardhe had always determined the Hot 100 by tabulating radio play and single sales. If a song wasn't commercially available as a single, then that song couldn't reach the Hot 100. For decades, this worked fine. However, in the 1990s, the music industry experienced a boom period due to the growing popularity of the CD. As a result, the industry largely phased out the single in the 90s.BillboardHe didn't change his rules for years, so a strange stalemate developed.Billboardit did not allow album cuts on the Hot 100 until December 1998. As a result, the Hot 100 became heavily skewed throughout the '90s.

A few years ago my friend Chris Molanphy dida fantastic podcast episodeon this whole subject, which he called the great war against the bachelor. It was all a great move on the part of the music industry, and for a while it worked. Even the one-hit wonders of the 90s often failed to release singles, or if they did, and those singles did well, the record companies would pull the singles off the shelves. Sometimes these one-hit wonders sold millions of albums as a result. It all came back to bite the music industry in the ass, as consumers angry about spending more than $17 on an album with a good song turned to file-sharing sites like Napster with wide eyes.

In any case, the Hot 100 got even crazier than usual in the '90s. Many hit songs don't appear in this column because they were never officially released as singles, which means the column simply won't cover many of the songs. the most important of the decade. (The whole alt-rock explosion of the early '90s, for example, won't be a factor here.) Many other songs will have very, very long reigns at No. 1, though we won't get to that right now. for a brief moment. The first week that "It Must Have Been Love" was #1, this whole strategy started toActuallyinfluence the Hot 100.

If you were around and paying attention in the summer of 1990, you already know that MC Hammer's energetic and simplistic party-rap hit "U Can't Touch This" was by far the biggest song in the country for months. Hammer's label Capitol released "U Can't Touch This" as a single, but only on 12" vinyl, primarily for club DJs. Capitol never released "U Can't Touch This" as a casserole, the dominant format of the day. In instead, Capitol wanted people to buy Hammer's album.Please hammer, don't hurt. The effort paid off.Please hammer, don't hurtit sold over 10 million copies in the US alone. It remains one of the best-selling rap albums in history.

Due to Capitol's strategy, "U Can't Touch This" reached the Hot 100. But without an easy release, Hammer's song never reached #1. Instead, "U Can't Touch This" peaked at #8 behind "It Must Have Been love". it's an 8

With this section, I'll try to note the songs that could have hit #1 on the Hot 100 if the charts hadn't gone crazy these years. It will be complicated and imprecise, but I will do my best.

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