Rick Astley

Never Gonna Give You Up

Song Review by

Rick Astley's debut single, "Never Gonna Give You Up" contrasted the singer's expressive, soulful baritone with synthesized dance-club backing, and while the highly processed quality of the latter sometimes seemed to overwhelm the former (no easy task), the song became a wildly popular smash, winding up as the biggest hit single of 1987 in the U.K. and topping the U.S. charts in early 1988. The song was driven by a busy rhythm track and a synthesized string section strongly reminiscent of late-'70s disco productions, while Astley's distinctive voice boomed over the top. Perhaps the most memorable flourish on "Never Gonna Give You Up" is the way Astley handles the chorus, which alternates rapid-fire 16th notes with longer, off-the-beat triplets; his delivery is impeccably smooth, navigating the rhythmically shifting melody with ease. It's not difficult to see, in retrospect, why Astley eventually grew tired of the Stock, Aitken & Waterman production team's work; while the slick sheen doesn't exactly rob Astley of his personality, the layers of echo don't really do much to accentuate or humanize it, either. Still, the song does demonstrate that Astley has a flair for up-tempo dance tracks, and it's such a well-crafted piece of music that the partnership between singer and producers seems fruitful enough to overlook any shortcomings.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Whenever You Need Somebody 1987 RCA 3:36
Now: 1987 [40 Tracks] 1993
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI
Ultimate Party Album 1994
Various Artists
Import
Disco Fox [ZYX 1994] 1994
Various Artists
ZYX Music 3:32
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Best of Dance 1987 1996
Various Artists
ZYX Music 3:35
Can't Get This No More!, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Intersound
Ultimate Party Animal Album 1996
Various Artists
Global TV
Shut Up and Dance!: The 80's, Vol. 2 1996
Various Artists
Priority Records
Only Love 1985-1989 1997
Various Artists
Rhino / JCI Associated Labels 3:35
Club Classics [1997] 1997
Various Artists
X:treme / Navarre 5:46
Rockin' 80's [BMG Special Products] 1997
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 3:33
No Image 1997
Various Artists
3:33
Can't Get This No More! 1998
Various Artists
Intersound
Heartthrob Hits 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 3:32
Hits of the 80's [Columbia River] 1998
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 3:32
Club Mix: The 80's 1998
Various Artists
Cold Front Records / K-Tel Distribution 3:36
Living in the 80's, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
BMG International 3:25
Eighties Assortment 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:34
The All Time Greatest Pop Album 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:34
12 Inch Collection [1999] 1999 BMG International 5:49
British Invasion [Delta/2 Disc] 1999
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 3:37
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:31
Queer as Folk 2 [UK Series Soundtrack] 2000
Original TV Soundtrack
Almighty Records 3:30
Teen Riot 2000
Various Artists
Razor & Tie 3:34
#1 Hits 1985-1989 2000
Various Artists
GNP / Crescendo 3:32
Grandmix: The Millennium Edition 2000 Sony Music Distribution 1:41
Radio's #1 Hits: The Very Best of the '80s 2000
Various Artists
Trans World 3:35
'80s Pop Hits 2001
Various Artists
Compose Records 3:33
Chart Hits: Hits of the Eighties 2001
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 3:32
Forever Gold: British Invasion 2001
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 3:37
The Ultimate Jukebox Hits of the '80s, Vols. 4 & 5 2001
Various Artists
Collectables 3:33
The Greatest Hits 2002 BMG Heritage / RCA 3:33
40 Years of Jukebox Hits: The 50's, 60's, 70's & 80's 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 3:33
Like, Omigod! The '80s Pop Culture Box (Totally) 2002
Various Artists
Rhino 3:32
Old School House Party 2002
Various Artists
Thump Records 3:32
3 Originals 2003 BMG International 3:36
No Image 2003
Various Artists
Columbia
Platinum & Gold Collection 2004 BMG Heritage / RCA 3:32
12 Inch Collection [2004] 2004 BMG 5:47
80's #1 Hits [Madacy] 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:33
#1 Super 80's Hits 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:33
All #1 Hits '80s 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:33
All Ultimate Dance 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 5:47
100 Essential Tracks: No. 1 Hits 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:30
Night 80s Dance 2009
Various Artists
Warner Music 3:32
No Image 2011
Various Artists
EMI
Now! That's What I Call Music: 30 Years 2013
Various Artists
Sony Music / Universal Music TV 3:32