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Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up (1987)

  • Video Views 1,269,360,906
  • 80's Score80's Score80's Score80's Score 80's score: 3.88
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“Never Gonna Give You Up” is a song recorded by British singer and songwriter Rick Astley, released as his debut ...

“Never Gonna Give You Up” is a song recorded by British singer and songwriter Rick Astley, released as his debut single on 27 July 1987. It was written and produced by Stock Aitken Waterman, and was released as the first single from Astley’s debut album, Whenever You Need Somebody (1987). The song was a worldwide number-one hit, initially in the United Kingdom in 1987, where it stayed at the top of the chart for five weeks and was the best-selling single of that year. It eventually topped the charts in 25 countries, including the United States and West Germany. The song won Best British Single at the 1988 Brit Awards.

The music video for the song has become the basis for the “Rickrolling” Internet meme, leading the song to also be referred to as “The Rickroll Song”. In 2008, Astley won the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Act Ever with the song, as a result of collective voting from thousands of people on the Internet, due to the popular phenomenon of Rickrolling. The song is considered Astley’s signature song and it is often played at the end of his live concerts.

In 2019, Astley recorded and released a ‘Pianoforte’ version of the song for his album The Best of Me, which features a new piano arrangement.

Original success

On 12 March 1988, “Never Gonna Give You Up” reached number one in the American Billboard Hot 100 after having been played by resident DJ, Larry Levan, at the Paradise Garage in 1987. The single topped the charts in 25 countries worldwide.

The single also reached the No. 1 spot on the year-end singles charts in the UK and South Africa.

Rickrolling

“Never Gonna Give You Up” is the subject of a popular Internet prank known as “rickrolling” involving misleading links (commonly shortened URLs) redirecting to the song’s music video. Originally started by users on 4chan, by May 2007, the practice had achieved notoriety on the Internet, and it increased in popularity after its use as a 2008 April Fools’ Day joke by various media companies and websites, including YouTube rickrolling all of its featured videos on that day and websites allowing people to rickroll their friends’ devices.

In “a couple of weeks”, about 13 million people had been tricked into watching Astley’s video, the BBC reported on 1 April 2008. “I think it’s just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it”, Astley told the Los Angeles Times in late March 2008, adding: “That’s what’s brilliant about the Internet.”

Astley also appeared in the 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, interrupting a song performed by those on a float promoting the Cartoon Network program Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends with a lipsynched performance of “Never Gonna Give You Up”.

There were reports that despite the video garnering millions of hits on YouTube, Astley earned almost no money from the online phenomenon, receiving only US$12 in royalties from YouTube for his performance share as of August 2010. Astley denied those reports in 2016.

Impact and legacy

Time Out listed “Never Gonna Give You Up” at number 33 in their The 50 best ’80s songs list in 2018, adding: “Those synthesized strings, that thumping boots-and-pants beat, Astley’s weirdly robust croon and his romantic-wooing-as-used-car-salesman pitch (‘You wouldn’t get this from any other guy’)… It all adds up to three-and-a-half of the most effervescent minutes in the ’80s canon.”

The song was reportedly played as part of a psychological campaign to convince Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega to surrender during the United States invasion of Panama in 1989, along with other songs such as “I Fought the Law” by the Clash.

In 2020, The Guardian ranked it at number 44 in their list of The 100 greatest UK No 1s.

Music video

On 24 October 2009, the 1987 music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up”, directed by Simon West, was uploaded to YouTube. It has over 749 million views as of August 2020.

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