N is for Never Gonna Give You Up

N is for Never Gonna Give You Up (and no, this is not a Rickroll).

For the uninitiated, Never Gonna Give You Up was a 1987 song by British singer Rick Astley. It’s the song that catapulted me into listening to pop music. We all have that song, yes? Think back, and tell me which song it was for you.

Those were heady days back then, as I think I’ve mentioned in another post. The mid to late 80s were an awesome time to be young. There was a lot of good movies, a lot of good music, and a lot of great TV. I was breaking the mould of my childhood then. I was the child of an Hons Degree music teacher mother and a father who was just becoming more eclectic in his taste by discovering (and trying to foist on me) classical composers like Glazunov, I found the bubblegum, upbeat pop music of the day much more to my taste! And Never Gonna Give You Up came out at just about the right time to be the vehicle of my ride out of my parents opinion into my own.

Never Gonna Give You Up” was written and produced by Stock, Aitken & Waterman. The song was released as the first single from Astley’s multi-million selling debut album, Whenever You Need Somebody. The song was a worldwide number-one hit, initially in the singer’s native United Kingdom in 1987, where it stayed at number 1 for 5 weeks and was the best-selling single of that year. It eventually topped the charts in 25 countries, including the US and West Germany. [Wikipedia]  The song rode the airwaves like a bucking broncho back in those days. And then, like most of its counterparts, it slid into the annals of pop history. 

Until the internet picked it to be the song to be used whenever you wanted to Rickroll somebody. This is an internet based prank whereby you point somebody to a link and tell them that the link is about something they may be interested in. For example, you may know your friend is keen on Brad Pitt, so you send them a link and say it’s the latest about Brangelina. But when they click on it, it takes them to a youtube video of Never Gonna Give You Up.   Due to this phenomenon, in 2008, Rick Astley won the MTV EMA awards for “Best Act Ever” with the song “Never Gonna Give You Up”. Click here to read more about Rickrolling

There is another pop culture related phenomenon about “Never Gonna Give You Up” though. It’s become synonymous with an era where things were perceived to be good, honest, and innocent (I lived it, so I know it wasn’t always like that!) But the song itself tweaks the golden thread of humanity which is partly what this blog is about – the ability of musicians, artists, etc to be able to touch on the emotions of humans across all generations with their work. I don’t think this was Rick Astley’s intention when he made the song. I think he has unknowingly done it – and today the song signifies the good that people feel is lacking in today’s society. As long term fans of his, Rick never did give us up. He was always there, his music was there to see us through thick and thin where other people certainly did give us up, run around and desert us. That is the magic of music. That’s why it means so much to me. That song has strongly drawn the golden thread through generations, and if there’s one thing I’d like people to take from this post, is that if you find one day that there is nobody around, music is around. Music will never give you up. 

There is a well known internet meme about it: 

Interestingly, while Never Gonna Give You Up was initially my favourite Rick song, today I still think he has a fantastic voice but I prefer some of his slower tracks. I guess I’m getting older! Rick Astley would lend you any of his Pixar movies, but he’s never gonna give you Up. I will never give Rick up.