Roxanne (The Police) cover


“Roxanne” is a song by British rock band the Police. The song was written by lead singer and bassist Sting and was released as a single on 7 April 1978, in advance of their debut album Outlandos d’Amour, released on 3 November. It was written from the point of view of a man who falls in love with a prostitute. When re-released on 12 April 1979, the song peaked at No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart.

The song ranked No. 388 on the Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and was voted No. 85 by VH1 on its list of the “100 Greatest Rock Songs”.

In 2008, “Roxanne” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Police lead singer Sting wrote the song inspired by the prostitutes he saw near the band’s seedy hotel in Paris, France, where the Police were lodged in October 1977 to perform at the Nashville Club. The song’s title comes from the name of the character in the play Cyrano de Bergerac, an old poster of which was hanging in the hotel foyer.

Sting had conceived the song as a bossa nova, although he credits Police drummer Stewart Copeland for suggesting its final rhythmic form as a tango. During recording, Sting accidentally sat down on a piano keyboard in the studio, resulting in the atonal piano chord and laughter preserved at the beginning of the track. As a nod to the gaffe, Sting is credited in the liner notes for playing “butt piano.” The Police were initially diffident about the song, but Miles Copeland III was immediately enthusiastic after hearing it; he became their manager and got them their first record deal with A&M Records.

We went into Surrey Sound Studios and it was working pretty well. We recorded a few tracks, one of which I wrote more or less as a throwaway. That was ‘Roxanne’, I didn’t think much more about it until we played the album to Miles Copeland who is, of course, Stewart’s brother and a bit of an entrepreneur, though he’d never been particularly interested in the Police. In fact, he’d kept away from it to say the least. He did come along to the sessions while we were putting the first album together but more or less just to offer brotherly advice to Stewart. He heard the album and quite liked it. When we got to Roxanne, we were a bit embarrassed because the song was a bit of an anachronism, because compared with our usual material it was slow, quiet and melodic. Far from saying he thought it was a piece of shit, he said it was amazing. I thought, ‘He likes this song. This is fantastic!

— Sting, A Visual Documentary, 1978

In 1999 George Michael covered it on the Songs from the last century album In 2006, singer Dilana performed “Roxanne” on the CBS reality television show, Rock Star: Supernova and subsequently released the cover as a single. In 2012, the song was covered by singer Juliet Simms for the reality television show, The Voice. Her cover reached number 86 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 2022, the song was interpolated by lead singer Sting and Swedish house music supergroup Swedish House Mafia as “Redlight”. It was released on 25 February 2022 as the fourth single from the group’s debut studio album Paradise Again.

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