For a couple of years in the late 1980s, two radio singles essentially defined dance-pop for Top-40 radio. Both of them sounded remarkably similar, and both were by Rick Astley, the British singer with the surprisingly deep voice and boyish face.
Seriously. “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever” both from the album Whenever You Need Somebody, sounded like they were pretty much the same song, just with different lyrics set to the same drum/bass loop. People joked about it. But that didn’t stop both songs from racing up the charts, one after the other. Rick Astley was an instant icon of the 1980s.
That was pretty much it for Astley, at least in the US. A few years later, he ditched dance-pop for blue-eyed soul, and released another single “Cry For Help” from his record Free (1991), which I thought was highly underrated. Shortly afterward, he retired from music at the ripe old age of 27. He came out of retirement about 10 years later, and even released a new record in 2005, but has never seen the attention he had as a young heartthrob in the 1980’s. Oh, except for Rickrolling.
While Astley was sort of a “two-hit wonder” here in the States, he had a lot more going on in the UK during his short-but-sweet career. In fact, Astley holds a standing Guinness World Record for having each of his first eight singles make the UK Top 10 charts. He sold a whopping 40 million records worldwide prior to his 1993 retirement, and was the world’s top selling artist during the time between his first and fifth singles.
Below, I’ve embedded links to Rick Astley’s two dance singles, “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever,” if for nothing else so you can compare them and see how similar they sound. The third one, “Cry For Help,” I’ve included because it comes from his “soul period,” and because it happens to be my personal favorite Rick Astley song. Enjoy!