Rick Astley revisits his career-making song with ‘Gratitude’

NEW YORK (AP) – How does Rick Astley handle one of his songs from being part of the biggest internet meme of all time? He rolls with it, obviously.

“Listen, let’s face it, ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ has become something else,” he says. “The videos and songs have flowed into the ether and become something else, and I am forever grateful for that.”

The song turns 35 this year and is still very much alive, excited as a gentle joke from a second chapter in which someone traps you with a catchy online link, similar to this 1987 dance-pop smash Indicates video instead. This is called recrolling.

Thirty-five years later, Astley is singing it this summer on the 57-date “The Mixtape Tour 2022” tour with New Kids on the Block, Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue. A remastered version of their 1987 debut album has also been released, which includes, of course, “Never Gonna Give You Up”.

“I’ll never have a song like this, and I knew it when it was happening. I thought, ‘We’ll never beat this.’ But I also thought, ‘Well, how bad is this?'”

There has always been more to Astley than just that song. After having a blast in the late 1980s, he left show business disappointed and most recently reunited with strong albums like “50” in 2016 and “Beautiful Life” in 2018.

“Often the second act can be more enjoyable because you’re more in control and you savor every minute,” said Alistair Norbury, president of repertoire and marketing at BMG UK, which signed Astley.

With the passage of time – and the fact that Astley is such a sweet boy – any sharpness has softened. He says that he understands how the past can look different with rose-colored glasses. Rock stars have recently told him that they love his voice.

“And I’m like, ‘Really? I thought you might’ve killed me in the village square,'” he says with a laugh. “They probably would have done that at the time, but I guess with time, I guess.” that it just changes your perspective.”

Astley, 56, grew up near Manchester, England, the youngest of four. His sister played a lot of progressive rock and adored David Bowie. One of the brothers was a big fan of Queen, and she remembers Queen’s “Night at the Opera” album, which was played on loop. Astley soaks up everyone from Stevie Wonder to The Smiths.

He was in a band at school – he once performed “So Lonely” with Astley by the Police on drums and vocals – which wiped the floor with rivals in the band’s fight. He would go to gigs and dream of becoming a music star.

He recalls that one day he was astonished when he saw Smith’s bass player walking through town. “could be possible?” He remembers the thought. “You may be from the city where I buy my records but last week you were on ‘Top of the Pops’?”

Astley was still in his early 20s recording his first album, “Whenever You Need Somebody”, with the songwriting and record production trio known as Stock Aitken Waterman, who composed songs for Bananarama and Dead or Alive. were prepared.

“I sold a lot of records. I had a lot of hits, and then it was getting to a point where it was like Touch and Go — how will it go now because you have to make another record?

Burnt out and disappointed, he moved on to 27. “I guess I didn’t have it. I just didn’t. I didn’t want to do that,” he says.

He admires pop stars like Madonna or Kylie Minogue for their longevity. “I really don’t know how they did it,” he says.

Being a pop star messes with your mind, and Astley says it happened to her too. “I guess my days were numbered anyway, but I guess I managed to get out before they kicked me out, you know?” He did not perform for 15 years.

Unlike other pop stars, he didn’t invest his ego in his looks or the perceptions of others. “I was never sober. I wasn’t cool when I had hit records,” he says. Astley has nothing but compassion for people chewed on by the fame monster. “It must be incredibly painful. “

Astley re-emerged from self-exile in 2016 with “50”, titled with a hat-tip to Adele, for the age at the time, a strong album that veers from gospel to electro-funky.

Norbury remembers hearing the first few demos on the album and was impressed. He asked Astley’s manager who wrote to him. The answer was “Rick Astley.” He asked who was the co-writer? The answer was “none.” Who produced? “Rick.” Then who played all the instruments? “He played all the instruments.”

Norbury calls Astley “probably one of the hardest working people in this business and always does it with good humor and a sense of collaboration and partnership.”

YouTube’s infancy – recrawling began in 2007 and it initially confused Astley. His song and video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” were being used as part of an Internet bait-and-switch, but what was the point?

“I was thinking about it and worrying about it and wondering what it was. And our daughter told me — she was about 15 at the time — she just said, ‘You know That it has nothing to do with you?'” He also predicted: “Something else will happen next week or tomorrow”.

“She was a little bit wrong because it’s still kicking around,” Astley says. “But the spirit of what she was saying was, I think, really, really valuable. I embrace my past, but I don’t have to embrace the reclining thing the same way as I would accept that fact.” I think it has nothing to do with me to some extent.”

The song has garnered 1.2 billion streams on YouTube and 559 million Spotify listens. Time Out magazine was always a little puzzled by the recounting, asking why any enthusiast wouldn’t want to listen to MegaJam, saying it “has three and a half minutes of the most wonderful 80s minutes.”

Astley, of course, sees “Never Gonna Give You Up” differently than most people who use it to try to mess with friends. He acknowledges that the video is “incredibly late-’80s cute,” but “it’s a good memory. It’s like a fond memory.”

For Astley, this is the song that took him to Copenhagen, where he met his wife, Len Bouseger. Without that song, he wouldn’t have had a daughter or traveled the world. “I’ve been to some of the most amazing places in the world that most people have on their bucket lists.”

He thinks back to the days when he was a freshman watching established acts. Now he’s a seasoned pro with an arsenal of songs, including an instant crowd-pleaser.

“At the time, I was like green with jealousy and feeling completely insecure and everything else. Now, when I walk out on a stage and sing those songs, I think, ‘ Yes, how lucky am I? Isn’t that great?'”

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Mark Kennedy is here

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