Roxette - Joyride
Fly, you fools! Or, alternatively, c’mon join the joyride. And what a joy ride it is.
I’ve (Tim B) spent a fair proportion of the last 48 hours talking about earworms on the radio stations 4BC Brisbane, ABC Gold Coast, ABC ABC Melbourne, and ABC North Queensland, because someone clearly liked my article in the Vine about why Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ is catchy from a music psychology POV.
I made a fuss in that article about the sheer amount of repeats in ‘Get Lucky’. But repeats aren’t everything. And Joyride is the perfect song to prove this. What makes this song catchy is not just the repeats but the sheer number of new things that Roxette introduce to the song in order to keep it interesting, most of which are hooks, most of which are things in the song you look forward to hearing.
I mean, ‘Joyride’ has an exceptionally catchy chorus, and Roxette would have had a hit even if the rest of the song was a little boring. But this song is studio-crafted to within an inch of its life to avoid boringness (seriously - the spine of the Joyride album on CD has ‘don’t bore us, get to the chorus’ written on it). This is Swedish engineering perfection in pop circa 1991.
So here’s a list of when Roxette introduces new things in the song (alongside repeating an infernally catchy chorus seven times):
0:17: a nice imitation of Paul McCartney’s carnival barker at the start of ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ - ‘step right this way!’
0:21: They make good on their promise to not bore us before getting to the chorus. (I’m sure starting with the chorus after imitating ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ is Per Gessel’s nod to how the Beatles started most of their big Beatlemania-era hits with a chorus)
0:25: What must have sounded like a state of the art massive-sounding drum beat in 1991.
0:30: Yay, awesome Rickenbacker guitar(mony) sound!
0:35: Catchy verse melody - ‘I hit the road out of nowhere…’
0:36: Catchy Stonesy ‘resolving-a-4th’ guitar lick
0:38: Catchy countrified guitar lick (and repeat)
0:49: Counterpoint section to the first two lines in the verse that ends in the very catchily sung ‘at all’
0:57: Catchy descending keyboard line not otherwise used in the song that nonetheless echoes the chords in this section
1:00: IN A WONDERFUL BALLOON
1:02: Quickfire catchy keyboard melody
1:09: That infernally catchy whistling
1:13: ‘And it all begins where it ends’
1:17: New catchy guitar riff
1:24: Build up of tension via extended drum fill, leaving the line ‘magic friend’ hanging
1:29: Release of tension in chorus (now with extra added rhythm section)
1:35: New end of chorus - ‘join the joyride, join the joyride’, linked in with the awesome Rickenbacker guitar sound riff that originally came after the original chorus
1:38: Keyboard arpeggios to keep the song moving
1:41: Repeats quickfire keyboard melody in new context (to denote new section)
1:43: New hip-hop-esque (for Sweden) syncopated drum beat
1:44: Keyboard sound vaguely similar to a wah-wah guitar does the Stones-y guitar riff instead
1:46: Acoustic guitar does the countrified guitar riff instead
1:47: Extra added vocal harmonies here compared to first verse
1:51: New loud drum fill to introduce the rhythm section and then the guitars are back in the mix!
1:58: “Whoa no!”
2:13: Big staggered harmonies on ‘magic friend’ with psychedelic vocal effects
2:30: Chorus repeated twice for the first time (you were expecting the middle 8? No, here’s another chorus!)
2:35: The melisma in Per’s voice when he sings ‘join the joyride’
2:39: New lyrics - ‘Be a joyrider’ instead of ‘join the joyride’
2:43: Marie going “ow!”
2:44: Another new catchy guitar riff
2:49: Infernally catchy whistling used as a part of the middle 8
2:59: What’s that Per? You thought of yet another catchy Bon Jovi-esque guitar riff? OK, well, I guess you can repeat it a couple of times in the middle of the song. You should save some riffs for the rest of the album though.
3:07: New catchy piano riff
3:09: Synth horn, as counterpoint to catchy piano riff
3:16: New ‘I’ll take you on a skyride’ section
3:23: ‘ROCKS YOU LIKE A BABY’ (note echoes and instruments cut out - they want you to surprise you into feeling like you’ve been rocked)
3:40: You’ve heard the chorus so many times now that they figure you’ll get bored if they don’t do something different. So this time the chorus has no backing instruments apart from drums
3:50: Repeats chorus three times in a row for the first time in the song, with noticeably loud synth horn stabs to distract you from the fact you’ve heard the chorus three times in a row.
4:06: The pinnacle of the song, the part I look forward to the most when I listen to ‘Joyride’. What is it? It is, of course, Marie shouting “ROXETTE!” just in case you’ve forgotten who you’re listening to. And then they sneak in chorus number seven while you’re still snapping out of being confused why they would shout the name of their band in a song!
4:18: You thought there’d be another chorus, right? SURPRISE! Instead, there’s some more infernally catchy whistling when you weren’t expecting it! (to fade)
Me at the 90 Percent Hits tumblr, possibly analysing ‘Joyride’ by Roxette in slightly too much detail.