Rick Astley is a Singer First and an Internet Sensation Second

by Jesse McIntyre

We all know Rick Astley as either the hit pop musician of the 80s and 90s or the internet meme that created the trend Rickrolling, based his hit 1987 song “Never Gonna Give You Up”. No matter how you remember him, Rick Astley has come back to the music scene in a big way.

Apart from occasionally co-writing songs, Astley has been fairly silent in the United States since 1993. He did release an album in Germany in 2001 and covered some pop standards on 2003’s Portrait, but American audiences have been largely starved of original songs from Astley in that time.  Even before the Astley drought, many music fans had moved on from his distinctly 80’s sound; an experience many pop stars are familiar with. Astley released several albums in the early 90’s that showed his interest in moving toward a sound influenced by soul and Adult Contemporary.

After Rick retired, his name and career got an uncommon shot in the arm by some internet pranksters. Anyone over the age of 18 is likely to have been tricked into hearing Astley’s signature chorus “Never gonna give you up/never gonna let you down” at least once in their lives while browsing the internet. Rickrolling became an internet phenomenon in 2007, and by 2008, had Astley voted into the “Best Act Ever” award at the MTV Europe Music Awards. While he originally rejected Rickrolling as a mean prank, Rick eventually saw the humor, and nearly $12 million royalty paycheck, in it and embraced the trend. While Rickrolling helped bring Astley back as a household name, he pushed to move away from this being his career’s defining moment.

Rick started his ascent back to the top of the UK’s music charts earlier this year when he released two singles “Keep Singing” and “Angels on my Side”. These tracks kept Astley’s signature vocal sound while exploring more mature content in his music. Though the sound has changed, there are still elements of his former pop-star self to be heard. Big vocals and flashy flourishes stand out over low-tempo dance music.

With his latest releases Astley seems to move away from the light pop vibe and found a more mature sound. These releases and other new tracks culminated into the release of his eighth studio album 50 which was released in the US on October 7th. Astley has performed live on the Today Show, toured America and Canada in early October, and is gearing up for a tour of the United Kingdom starting in June of next year.

No matter how you remember how you know Rick Astley whether it be the young pop singer of the mid 80s or the hilarious internet meme Rick Astley has impacted millions with his music and has come back to bring us more. If you’re a fan of Astley this return to the music scene is amazing, and even if you aren’t a fan the new tone of his music might be enough to change your mind. If there’s one thing Rick Astley can do it is writing music that inspires and perpetrates a positive attitude, and I think that is something important for music to do for all of us.

Note: Tip Crowley contributed to this article

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