Phantom Songs: Roxette – “The Look”

Phantom Songs is an ongoing series of musical pieces that you can’t quite put your finger on. You have most definitely heard the song before, but are most likely not able to pinpoint who made it, when it was released, and/or what the song is really about. All of the artist’s history and biography was either stolen from wikipedia or made up entirely.

The Goods
1) Possessing a certain quality that is desired. See that? This guy’s got the goods.
2) To be in possession of the stuff. You’re going far, kid. You’ve got the goods.”

The Stuff
1) A desirable object or group of objects. If you’ve got the goods, I’ve got the stuff.
2) To be in possession of The Look. Oh man, that honey, she got the stuff, man.

The Look
1) Possessing a quality of objects or group of objects that is desirable and may or may not be referred to as “The Stuff” or “The Goods”.
2) A hit 1989 song that put Swedish band, Roxette, on the map.

But what exactly IS The Look? It’s The Look. She’s got it, whatever the hell it is. It’s, like, the cool thing to do or something. The bee’s knees. People interrupt her during foreplay and carry her out of the bedroom. She knows exactly how to dress in order to be topical. She may or may not play guitar on the toilet. Judging from the tone of the song, the singer either wants the girl for having The Look or just wants The Look for himself. Or maybe she’s got TO look? Is it about traffic safety? A blind person recovering sight? A girl can’t find her keys? Perhaps “the look” signifies a certain mood. She could be horny, mopey, pregnant, angry, gassy or annoyed by all the the attention Roxette is giving her. I would love to see a definitive answer for this. Let’s ask our good friend, Wikipedia:

According to Gessle the first two verses lyrics were guide lyrics but were kept anyway

Well, that’s good to know. Telling the press that your song isn’t supposed to make sense is like telling your wife that you live with your parents. As if the other wasn’t smart enough to figure out the embarrassing details on their own. On the other hand, to say that the song is meaningless totally takes away from the mystery and allure of The Look. There has to be something deeper that nobody is hearing. Observe:

Roxette+-+The+Look+-+7-+RECORD-15765She’s a juvenile scam, never was a quitter
Tasty like a raindrop, she’s got the look

Shit, this might be harder than I thought. There’s already too much repetition in the first line. If she walks like a man, then we can already assume that she hits like a hammer. A sister line would be “I have a gun. I have bullets for it too”. It’s not necessary. So, acting manly is part of The Look. The second and third lines contradict themselves. A scam becomes juvenile when people start quitting. The lack or relenting is what separates the pros from the amateurs. And she might be tasty, but that has NOTHING to do with The Look she is presenting. Two different senses at play here. Let’s just move on.

Heavenly bound, ’cause heaven’s got a number
When she’s spinning me around, kissing is a color
Her loving is a wild dog, she’s got the look

Looks like the same structure of repetition and and contradiction. She called up heaven and made reservations, which is obvious. Now she has the ability to mix senses. Do both of these things have something to do with The Look? Does it enable her to do other-worldly things? Also, describing a love as a wild dog makes me wonder if we should be swapping the genders of our characters…

What in the world can make
A brown-eyed girl turn blue
When everything I’ll ever do, I’ll do for you
And I go, la la, la la la, she’s got the look

This is where things get hairy. Either The Look physically changed the color of her eyes or it’s a curse, dooming her to be blue for the rest of her days. This all gets thrown out the window, when the singer introduces what third character: the listener. Is he referring to the girl with The Look or is he protecting us all from her tractor beam? Whatever scenario it may be, it cannot be denied that she’s got The Look.

Fire in the ice, naked to the T-bone
Is a lover’s disguise, banging on the head drum
Shaking like a mad bull, she’s got the look

The juxtaposition of these phrases make no sense. But, if we connect the dots, there is a distinctive flow:

Fire in the ice, in a lover’s disguise
Shaking like a mad bull, naked to the T-Bone
Banging on the head drum, she’s got the look

This doesn’t help in explaining what The Look is, but it explains a little bit about their word choices. It’s a simplistic form of poetry, about as lyrical as editing together a clown, a car crash, a mime and a cheering audience. Hey look ma! This kinda makes sense!

Swaying to the band, moving like a hammer
She’s a miracle man, loving is the ocean
Kissing is the wet sand, she’s got the look

So I think I have it. The Look isn’t actually something you can see. The Look is the indescribable feeling of falling for a maniac. She excites him in so many ways, but he doesn’t understand her purpose or the point of her beating the shit out of him all the time. This is it. This is what makes sense to me. The Look is all of the action, terror and confusion of being In Love™. Case closed.

And she goes, na na na
She’s got the look

WOAH WOAH WOAH WOAH WOAH, BACK IT UP! She says “na”?!?!?!? NA?!?!? Do you have any idea what this means?!?!?

Deep breath.


The protagonist is in a sado-masochistic relationship with a transexual. Observe the following equation:

Na = Masculine
La = Feminine

Male = La
Female = Na
Male = Feminine
Female = Masculine


So it makes sense now. He fell in love with her aura, her heavenliness, her Look. Now he’s in too deep, in a life of servitude and growing to accept being The Bitch of the relationship. She scares the hell out of him, but he’ll do anything for her. He’s just that damned spellbound. What I love about this song is that lines like “Walking like a man, hitting like a hammer” goes over everyones head while a simple utterance cracks the story wide open.

The song may had been a #1 hit, but it did nothing to change our standards on gender roles. It also did nothing to raise male awareness of the word, “la”. The only thing it really did was inspire a similar song to be made 10 years later.

She even uses a goddamned hammer!

Join me next time when I explain carefully why the groove is in the heart. Or something like that.