Song review: 'Speak to Me': Roxette's reflective return in 2011

Though understated ompared to some of their biggest hits, Roxette's "Speak to Me" might still...well, speak to you.
Roxette Awarded Gold At Rotterdam Ahoy
Roxette Awarded Gold At Rotterdam Ahoy / Gie Knaeps/GettyImages

Here is a review of "Speak to Me," a song by the Swedish pop duo Roxette, composed by Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson. Though not all Americans recognize the name, they were one of the biggest music acts in Sweden, second only to ABBA in terms of national popularity. Americans will probably know the duo for tracks like "It Must Have Been Love," "The Look," and "Listen To Your Heart."

"Speak To Me" was released in 2011 as part of their eighth studio album, Charm School. The album marked Roxette's comeback after Fredriksson's battle with cancer, which she tragically ultimately died from in 2019 (Lena Philipsson is replacing her for Roxette, and they are embarking on a 2025 Australian tour, and also slated to perform in South Africa in 2025).

However, at the time it was written, "Speak to Me" was one of the tracks that reflected the duo's return to the music scene. Though the lyric's sense of struggle carry a bittersweet and somber tone, the song is still a catchy pop-rock tune with a somewhat driving beat and infectious melodies, characteristic of Roxette's signature sound.

More about the lyrical and mood aspects of Roxette's "Speak To Me"

Lyrically, "Speak to Me" explores familiar themes of longing and communication, with the narrator highlighting desires for connection and understanding, and the lyrics make it sound like the quest has mixed results at best — despite the chorus sounding more uplifting. Marie Fredriksson's vocals are emotive and powerful, particularly in the chorus, adding depth to the song's sentiment. While "Speak to Me" may not have been as commercially successful as some of Roxette's earlier hits, it still resonated with fans and showcased the enduring talent of the duo.

Let's face it, though: It's hard to top the pop sensibilities of some of their earlier tracks. It's not as much of an easy listen – as this track doesn't create the romantic atmosphere of "It Must Have Been Love," or have the really upbeat qualities of "The Look." It's less likely to immediately appeal to people. Granted, if you're a Roxette superfan, you're more likely to think everything about "Speak To Me" is perfect, but it's tough not to compare it to what came before.

That being said, I can confidently say it's still a fairly catchy pop track, even if it's probably too contemplative for party-goers. With the right mood and the right set of ears, it could still be seen as an electro-power pop-rock anthem that's full of those expected big chorus moments. Roxette will never be as experimental as someone like David Bowie, but there is something a little chameleon-like about them in this track (in a good way), as there are different emotional layers, including some darkness (though it's never as dark as something like Nine Inch Nails, mind you).

I will award this track 3 out of 5 stars (assuming that matters), with the note that, even though it's not my favorite style of music, I am not grading it merely for myself. And, hey, maybe for some it's a hard-hitting rhythm that pushes listeners towards taking action and making a meaningful social connection with someone. Who knows? A little pop song can go a long way sometimes.