In the late 1980s, Rick Astley arrived, released a number of hits, then slowly retreated from the music industry.
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After releasing hits “Whenever You Need Somebody,” and “Together Forever,” as well as mega pop hit “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and several more albums, Astley remained mostly out of the spotlight for the next two decades.
The first single off his 1987 debut album, Whenever You Need Somebody, “Never Gonna Give You Up” shot to the top of the charts in 25 countries, including the U.S., when it was released in 1987.
Retiring from music in the early 1990s to take a break from the rigor and anxiety of traveling on tour and focus on raising his daughter Emilie, Astley later made a soft return in 2000 with the single “Sleeping,” followed by a fifth album, Keep It Turned On, in 2001.
Continuing to release a number of albums over the years, Astley also hosted podcasts and worked as a radio DJ in between making music. Supporting the reissue of his first two albums, Astley toured and released a new single “Lights Out” in 2010. By 2016, Astley released his new seventh album, 50, in 2016, which he wrote and produced by himself, followed by Beautiful Life in 2018.
In 2007, Astley became an Internet sensation when the iconic video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” was used as a “Rickrolling” meme. Viewers who were “Rickrolled” would open a link disguised as something else and be redirected to Astley’s famous video. To date, the original 1987 video for the song has passed 1.3 billion views on YouTube.
In 2022, “Never Gonna Give You Up” marked its 35th anniversary and is a song Astley joked is old enough to be President of the U.S., and has “got a life of [its] own at this point.” To commemorate the anniversary, Astley recreated the video for “Never Gonna Give You Up” a scene-for-scene remake for an insurance company ad.
Throughout his career, has sold more than 40 million records worldwide, and even co-wrote a few songs outside of his catalog.
Here’s a look at three songs Astley wrote for other artists.
1. “Is This Really Love?” Jon Otis (1988)
Written by Rick Astley
Released by British pop singer Jon Otis as a single in 1988, the uptempo synth dancer “Is This Really Love?” was originally written by Astley, who ended up covering it three years later. Astley released his own version of “Is This Really Love?” on his third album, Free, in 1991.
There are times when a woman makes you laugh and cry
Nobody knows when she is telling lies
I just want to hear the truth from you
So don’t play those games you always do
You don’t have to hide the way you feel
Tell me if your love for me is real
Is this really love
Is this the real thing
itishIs this really love
Can it be the right thing
2. “Mission Statement,” Fish (1999)
Written by Rick Astley, Derek William Dick, and Paul Thorn
During his semi-retirement from music in the 1990s, Astley ended up co-writing the song “Mission Statement” for Scottish singer and actor Fish’s 1999 solo album, Raingods with Zippos. Fish, whose real name Derek William Dick, was the formed singer of the progressive rock band Marillion from 1981 until 1988 and released his final album, Weltschmerz, in 2020.
“I first came up with the title, which is a German word that translates to ‘world weariness’ or ‘world pain,’” said Dick of his final album. “In this present day and age never has an album title become so apt.”
I want to change the world and I’m starting with myself
A private revalation concerning everybody else
We’re all just lonely people we’re all looking for some help
Too busy crunching numbers and fighting for ourselves
All it takes is kindness and a little love and care
And this planet that we live on can be a Heaven we can share, a mission statement
3. “We All Need a Miracle,” René Froger (2000)
Written by Rick Astley and Andrew Frampton
Dutch singer René Froger recorded the soulful ballad “We All Need a Miracle” for his 2000 album, All the Hits. Co-written by Astley, “We All Need a Miracle” is a moving anthem of perseverance.
Many roads has traveled
And faces i’v seen
Itch tells a story
Of what might have been
I mist roll a moment
But live still remade
I search for the innersants
Somehow we lost on the way
Photo: Justin Hargrave / Courtesy of Shore Fire Media