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Music / Rick Astley

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Richard Paul Astley (born 6 February 1966) is an English singer-songwriter and musician. Astley has released or appeared on recordings that have sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. He is best known for his 1987 hit single in 16 countries, "Never Gonna Give You Up".

After two successful dance-pop studio albums Whenever You Need Somebody (1987) and Hold Me in Your Arms (1988) helmed by Stock, Aitken, and Waterman, Astley changed his sound with his third album Free (1991), preferring to focus on ballads. However, fading into obscurity in the 1990s, Astley made a comeback in 2007 when he became a Memetic Mutation, as his video for "Never Gonna Give You Up" became part of a popular meme known as Rickrolling. Astley was voted by Internet users "Best Act Ever" at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2008. He even performed a Rickroll live in person on the Cartoon Network float at the 2008 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Astley's astonishingly adroit handling of the Rickroll phenomenon was, years later, explained by him on The Graham Norton Show as having been given a crash course in meme culture by his then-teenage daughter, who bluntly informed him that "it's got nothing to do with you". His positive attitude did much to endear him to Millennials and he's found himself a new generation of (mostly) non-ironic fans. (No fool, he always sings "Never Gonna Give You Up" last at concerts. To be fair, it's lyrically quite fitting as a farewell song.)

In 2016 he turned fifty, released the album 50 and saw it go straight to number one on the UK album charts. In July 2021 "Never Gonna Give You Up" topped one billion views on YouTube.

He is married to producer Lene Bausager and has one daughter.


  • Whenever You Need Somebody (1987)
  • Hold Me in Your Arms (1988)
  • Free (1991)
  • Body & Soul (1993)
  • Keep It Turned On (2001)
  • Portrait (2005)
  • 50 (2016)
  • Beautiful Life (2018)
  • Are We There Yet? (2023)

Music videos:

Never Gonna Trope You Up:

  • The '80s: Had most of his initial success in the latter half of this decade.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Astley's reaction to the whole Rickroll phenomenon, which culminated in him performing the song at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2008.
  • Anaphora:
    • The chorus of "Never Gonna Give You Up":
      Never gonna give you up
      Never gonna let you down
      Never gonna run around and desert you
      Never gonna make you cry
      Never gonna say goodbye
      Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you
    • In "Never Gonna Stop", the chorus begins each line with the phrase "never gonna," the bridge features "I don't think" at the start of each line (with the occasional "no" tossed in), and the outro begins each line with "tell me."
  • Ascended Meme: Pretty much cemented when he personally Rickrolled the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2008.
  • The Chew Toy: The saxophonist in "Take Me to Your Heart" just wants a bit part in Rick Astley's music video. Instead, he winds up getting shoved around by everyone (Astley himself included) for shoving himself in front of everyone at the most inopportune times.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: The leading girl of "Whenever You Need Somebody" keeps ruining her own vacation.
  • Distinct Double Album: Astley's 2019 compilation album The Best of Me features a first disc that's a standard Greatest Hits Album and a second disc containing re-recordings of old material, billed "Reimagined Classics".
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: "Cry for Help" is all about this.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Let his hair grow in The '90s, coinciding with his decision to break away from Stock Aitken Waterman and shift focus to soul music. See the video for "Cry for Help".
  • Meaningful Name: Astley's third album marked his breakaway from Stock Aitken Waterman, who produced most of the material on his first two albums and cultivated a "boy next door" image for him that he was quickly growing tired of. Accordingly, the name of the record is Free.
  • Orbital Shot: His "Lights Out" music video.
  • Self-Plagiarism: "Together Forever" sounds almost identical to "Never Gonna Give You Up". One possible reason why he's incorrectly considered a One-Hit Wonder is that people might be conflating the two songs in their memories. "Whenever You Need Somebody" also opens with a drum riff very similar to the intro of "Never Gonna Give You Up", though it deviates much further after that.
  • Silly Love Songs: In all fairness, "Never Gonna Give You Up" is a great love song.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Played with — Rick's first instrument was the drums and he often takes over drumming for a cover song during his sets while still singing. Notably, he bashes out a rocking version of "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC in some concerts.
  • Totally Radical: The videos for his songs are very Eighties.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The effect of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Rickroll was weakened somewhat due to the intro stating Rick Astley would be making a guest appearance. However, he did not appear anywhere in the promotional materials, such as the New York Daily News' annual guide to the parade.
  • Vocal Dissonance: His singing voice is so deep and it makes such a contrast with his red hair and pale skin, that he was believed to be the front man for a black singer. In fact, this happened when he sent his first tapes to music executives — he had to sing on-stage to convince Stock, Aitken and Waterman that yes, he was the one singing.
  • Vocal Evolution: As seen in this video, his voice has gotten lower and more soulful over the years - making him sound younger as he gets older. You can tell because the backing track is in a lower key, and he doesn't hit any of the higher notes (e.g. "You know the rules, and so do I").

Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna index this page
And hurt you


Video Example(s):


Harry Rickrolls the Police

In their youth, Peter and Harry broke into their school after hours to retrieve something. Just as Peter finds himself trapped, Harry provides the out he needs.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / ConvenientlyTimedDistraction

Media sources: