Rick rolls Down Under
RICK Astley was first ‘‘ Rickrolled’’ in 2008.
‘‘ I thought my friend was just taking the p--- out of me, I didn’t understand,’’ says Astley, one of Britain’s biggest, cleanest popstars of the ’ 80s to come from Stock, Aitken and Waterman’s songwriting purple patch.
For those joining us four years late, the Rickroll phenomenon started as an internet meme bait- and- switch when people wanted to trick their friends with a hyperlink to something supposedly relevant.
You click the link and BAM: all of a sudden you’re watching a vintage Astley clip most likely Never Gonna Give You Up.
‘‘ What’s really hard to fathom is being the ‘ Rick’ in the Rickrolling,’’ he laughs. ‘‘ Forgive the pun but you just have to roll with it – it could have been any cheesy ’ 80s song.’’
But that’s where Astley is wrong. The reason it took off is a combination of a relentlessly- positive pitch, a concrete ginger quiff, a swaying grey trenchcoat and those wriggling- up- and- down- in- apleasant- shiver dance moves.
‘‘ There was one [ Rickroll] where people edited Obama’s Speeches so he was singing Never Gonna Give You Up. Genius,’’ Astley says.
‘‘ And the kids studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston sent me a picture of someone who’d climbed on a huge fuel tank and put up the first seven notes to Never Gonna Give You Up. You have to be able to read music to understand the joke.’’
All this Rickrolling means Astley ( pictured), a well preserved 46- year- old, is relevant again and touring.
‘‘ I don’t know about that word you’ve chosen there, Mikey I don’t think I’m relevant,’’ he retorts.
‘‘ People don’t wanna hear a song I made last year.
‘‘ They just want to hear the hits and I’m totally fine with that.’’
His friends definitely still want to hear the hits as well, especially on their wedding days.
But has he ever had a request for his comeback single, of sorts, Cry For Help. ‘‘ No, not at a wedding, but I nearly did
Beauty and The Beast,’’ he recalls. ‘‘ A friend of mine, who is a record producer, was getting married and his wife is a massive Disney fan. So we were going through the repertoire and he started
Beauty and The Beast.
‘‘ It’s such a great pop song and then we got to the chorus and we just looked at each other and said: ‘ We can’t do that’.
‘‘ I’ve played some swing sets at weddings too that was great fun.’’
And that’s ‘‘ swing sets’’, not ‘‘ swingers weddings’’ – it’s important to make that clear.
The buoyant bouffant still ‘‘ potters around with music’’ but quit the music business properly 20 years ago, after feeling disillusioned.
Astley got tired of miming his songs on TV shows in countries he’d never heard of.
‘‘ Obviously I’ve got an ego and love to be famous for my own songs again but there’s a reason I quit. I got out of it because I hated it,’’ he says, bristling. ‘‘ Even if my music career was to take off and they said: ‘ we wanna do a Take That with you’. Yeah right, you still need loads of therapy in the end!’’ So what has he been doing for 20 years? ‘‘ I haven’t got a great answer. I haven’t been building schools in Africa,’’ he says.
‘‘ I’ve been one of the luckiest dads you can imagine, my parents divorced when I was really young. And I’ve been there for people. That sounds pompous, but I don’t care what people think.
‘‘ I haven’t had a job, I haven’t been working my ass off. Time is the ultimate commodity. Money buys you time. And that’s what it’s done for me.’’
In a way, Astley has Rickrolled the music industry he grew to detest.
‘‘ A lot of it felt false and doing it by- thenumbers. Yes, I wouldn’t swap it but a lot of it was so boring. Now I’m getting my own back by playing live everywhere I go.’’
Rick Astley is having the last laugh on the music industry he grew to detest, as he tours on the back of his internet fame, as