Roxette’s The Look – A Lyrical Takedown

Let me paint a picture for you… I say something pithy and am reminded of the song ‘The Look’ by Roxette.  The initial comment really doesn’t matter… but what does matter is that now I have this blasted song stuck in my head and I need to  hear it immediately.  Off to Youtube I go to balm this fiery need… but that’s not enough, is it?

Of course it isn’t.  I now am curious as to whether anyone has done a good cover of the song. It has such a fantastic hook that there is no way that a dozen people haven’t turned it into ska, punk, metal, polka, and throat-singing monk variations — and of course they have. (If you know where to find the throat-singing version, please comment below)

Fact is, I was in a ‘The Look’ rabbit hole.  One of many song pits I have fallen into over the years — and if you want to join in, here are a few covers I found to be better than the average:

Along the way, since I’m singing along with what I assume the words are, I open up the lyrics to feel like I’m not just mumbling through the fast parts as you do.  What I do catch on to very quickly is that this isn’t just a good song, but a very odd song. It is a strange mix of beautiful similes, questionable motivations, and utter inanity.  So, if you, like me, can’t help but over analyze things you like to the point of them not being enjoyable anymore, I give to you this.. a commentary on the lyrics of ‘The Look’

Starting at the top:
♫ One, two, three, four walking like a man ♫
 ♫ Hitting like a hammer ♫

First, she’s walking like a man and hitting like a hammer. I initially thought that maybe she was wearing heels, so there was a thunderous report of her foot hitting the ground, but that does seem to be at odds with ‘like a man’. I of course am not judging my masculine friends in heels, just considering the disparity. I am left to assume that her walk is the gait of someone who knows what they want, and in Roxette’s eyes, that’s manly.  It’s the best I got.

♫ She’s a juvenile scam ♫
♫ Never was a quitter ♫

These are the two lines I almost wanted to skip. They are problematic, but thankfully there are two ways to read them.  The first way is obviously she’s a young woman dressed to look older. The other is that she’s an older woman dressed to look as young as possible, and where I am well aware that it is likely the former, I’m going to put blinders on and assume its the latter because the song is too good for me to start looking at it like it’s a Polanski film.

What we do know, no matter what is, this gal ain’t no quitter. She’s walking with authority, and she’s going to get what she wants no matter the cost… go her.

♫ Tasty like a raindrop ♫
♫ She’s got the look ♫

At first, you may think ‘tasty like a raindrop’ doesn’t make sense…. and you would be right! Well, until you get later in the song when we learn just how parched Roxette really is. I assure you, they are a dry bunch.

♫ Heavenly bound ♫
♫ Cause heaven’s got a number ♫

These are the lines that may be the two hardest for me to even field a theory on. Either she is angelic looking, or she’s about to die and is waiting at the Pearly Gates which somehow has a waiting line system like your local deli.

♫ When she’s spinning me around ♫
♫ Kissing is a color ♫

There is only one translation of this – and that is with her manly walk, she has the grip of a quarterback and spins you like Jack and Rose in the lower decks until you can do nothing but vomit… whether or not you let go is a decision I’ll let you make for yourself, but the idea that the singer and this woman are spinning, locked in an embrace, mouths connected as a stream of yack escapes their mouth tube, creating a kalidoscopic Pollock painting around them, is simply too beautiful to ignore.

♫ Her loving is a wild dog ♫
♫ She’s got the look ♫

She then eats the vomit back up…

The chorus is fairly upfront with it’s repetition and I can’t really breakdown ‘nana na nana’ – but I would like to take one quick glance at:

♫ What in the world can make a brown-eyed girl turn blue ♫

Because do you know what turns a brown-eyed girl blue?  Spinning her around until neither of your stomach’s can take it… that’s what.

♫ 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 ♫

Fire in the ice is clearly a passion metaphor, but the rest of this… I’m starting to think that perhaps the singer isn’t singing about a woman at a concert and is, instead, sizing up a piece of veal. There is every chance in the world it is a woman dressed in a cow costume, so now he’s making playful puns at her outfit, but I can assure you from the last line, she is not a fan.

This also, as a note, would change the ‘hitting like a hammer’ from earlier to mean hooves…

♫ Swaying to the band ♫
♫ Moving like a hammer ♫

Back to the ‘at the concert’ possibility, this rhythmic, overly dressed, cow-costumed woman is enjoying the band both swaying and headbanging.  Simultaneously. Try it, I guarantee you’ll start kissing out a color.

♫ She’s a miracle man ♫

He’s got the look…

The only way to make this phrase actually work in any way is to add a comma between miracle and man. Otherwise, there is a chance she is selling snake oil to the local population of this small concert hall. A cow-costumed woman with no rhythm selling a tincture to stop you from all of your ills – of which clearly there are many given the Bellagio fountain of vomit that is being fountained around like those old octopus yard sprinklers you had when you were a kid.

..or you add the comma and ‘she’s a miracle, man’ and it’s fine.

♫ Loving is the ocean ♫
♫ Kissing is the wet sand ♫
♫ She’s got the look ♫

He’s got the look…

Finally, we come to this, which all jokes aside, is a beautiful little turn of phrase. The world is a drab and arid place until love overwhelms you and turns you into a saturated paste that is perfect for building castles. The place where love and the eternally thirsty meet is kissing, and what a kiss that would be. Have you ever kissed someone dehydrated?  Like not just a little ‘I could use a glass of water’ thirsty, but ‘white flecks of dead skin on their lips’ dehydrated?  I haven’t either.. nobody has.. that’s gross.  Get some chapstick.

So what is The Look?  Is it the naughty eye of a hopeful partner looking at you with curiousity, playfulness, and lust in the hopes you’ll return such an inviting gaze?  Is it the stern-faced look of a hammer obsessed cow-woman while she sells her bottles of cure-alls to a needy crowd?  Is it the sunken blackened eyes of a woman on the verge of passing out from a lack of moisture in her body and the only way to save her is to kiss her?

I don’t know, but I really do dig that ‘nana na nana’ part…

Did you enjoy this lyrical breakdown? Let me know in the comments and I’ll do some more!

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