Saturday, January 9, 2021

"Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley

#1 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3370
Date:  12/19/1987
Debut:  71
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Dance-Pop, Hi-NRG



Pop Bits:  While Astley's deep voice and association with the Stock Aitken Waterman production team would make him a star, he didn't necessarily start out with aspirations to become a solo star. As a teen, Astley began playing with various bands as a drummer. By 1985, he had a solid gig as drummer for the locally popular soul band FBI, but when the band's lead singer departed, Astley stepped up and took over. At one of the band's shows, Astley impressed an attendee, producer Pete Waterman, who then invited Astley to work at his London studio. It was there that the SAW team began to groom Astley for a solo career. Their first effort was a song Astley co-wrote called "When You Gonna." It was a duet between Astley and Lisa Fabien and released as by Rick & Lisa. The song went nowhere. Undeterred, SAW were determined to break Astley as a star and came up with the song "Never Gonna Give You Up." Recorded early in '87, the track was finally released in the UK in August. The song quickly caught on and ended up spending 5 weeks at #1. It was the best selling single in the UK for 1987. The hit then crossed the Atlantic and started to get traction at Dance where it would hit #1 in January of '88. A few weeks before that, the song debuted on the Pop chart and proceeded to make its way to #1. The tune would also hit #1 at AC. With the single topping three charts, it would end up being a gold seller. The hit would help Astley's debut album, Whenever You Need Somebody, peak at #10. Eventually, it would sell over 2 million copies in the US.

ReduxReview:  The SAW team wrote and produced a lot of hits, but I think this track was their defining moment. It was a hooky, well-written track with sharp production that was more sophisticated than the stuff they had been doing with artists like Bananarama. The trio elevated their game with this one and it certainly helped to have Astley's unusual voice to carry it along. I've always liked Astley's voice. It was distinct and had a richness that could enhance most any song. Although I will say that back in the day I had difficulty rectify that voice coming out of this young, hot-geek guy. It was kind of strange. Nevertheless, it all worked perfectly and an enduring hit was born.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  While this was a major worldwide #1 back in the day, the song became popular all over again in 2006 thanks to an internet prank. The administrator of an imageboard website called 4chan pulled a gag that replaced the word "egg" with "duck" on posts. In one conversation thread, the word "eggroll" was turned into "duckroll." It seems a user found that funny and created an image of a duck with wheels, aka a "duckroll." The gag expanded from there with the image getting associated with certain hyperlinks on the site. So if a person perhaps clicked a luring link like "hot babes," the duckroll image would pop up and the person had been duckrolled. Early in 2007, the trailer for the video game Grand Theft Auto IV was released, which garnered a ton of attention. As a joke, a user on 4chan created a hyperlink that looked like it would take you to the trailer, most likely to create a duckroll, but instead of the duckroll image, they had a link to Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" video. For whatever reason, people found this funny and soon others were creating false hyperlinks that sent unsuspecting clickers to Astley's video. It became known as "rickrolling" and the gag quickly spread. The viral sensation boosted views of Astley's video to over 20 million. When Astley found out about it, he thought it was both strange and funny. He also said he would not capitalize on the resurgence of the song following the viral gag. The only thing he agreed to do was to basically do a live rickroll during a performance at the 2008 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. While the rickroll phenomenon was popular for quite a while, it eventually died down but has not completely gone away. A couple of pro sports teams did rickroll stunts during games in 2019. So did Astley ever get rickrolled? Apparently yes. Even he has been tricked into clicking links that took him to...well, himself.

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