Chiefs Culture Challenge – Playlist: The Very Best of Rick Astley

Really thrilled I get to review a collection of Rick Astley’s greatest hits.  I suppose this narrowly beat out The Criterion Collection’s Roberto Beningi pack.  Hey, this has four out of five stars on AllMusic.com!  About two and a half more than I expected.

The first track is Never Gonna Give You Up.  I won’t reviews this because everyone’s heard it a million times, but I will link to this video as a bonus.  And yes, this is real.

And that is the only Rick Astley song I’ve ever heard.  Let’s proceed.

Track two is called Whenever You Need Somebody, which I think was an alternate title for Never Gonna Give You Up.  And wait…what is this…it’s the SAME drum introduction as Never Gonna Give You Up!  Am I being RickRolled by Rick Astley himself?  Every lyric in this is a vague cliche.  Brutal stuff.  The chorus starts with “whenever you need somebody”, and I keep thinking he’s going to say “whenever you call me, I’ll be there.”  Similar melody.  Not good.

Track three is Together Forever, which allegedly reached #1 in the U.S. charts in 1988.  Really glad I wasn’t born until the following year.  Searching “together forever” on YouTube gives me two Rick Astley results, followed directly by this, which is definitely way better…

So, back to Rick Astley…guess what?  It’s the EXACT SAME INTRO.  AGAIN.  This is absolutely ridiculous.  Oh, wait, I recognize this chorus!  And yes, Never Gonna Give You Up would fit perfectly into the melody of this one.  I don’t think you’d need to do any kind of editing with the pace at all.  Rick would apparently “move heaven and earth to be together forever with you.”  So many synths.  Yikes.  I have to seriously resist the urge to not sing “never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down” at the chorus.

Next up: My Arms Keep Missing You.  Oh, lord.  The first three YouTube results are for a song of this title by “Danzel vs. DJ FRANK.”  Right.  As for Rick…hey, it’s a drum intro that only partially sounds like Never Gonna Give You Up!  Highlight of the album!  Anyway, this is more totally generic lovey-dovey stuff.  Here’s the chorus:

“My arms keep missing you, who’s been kissing you since you went away?

My arms keep missing you, I keep wishing you’d come back today.”

Cringe-inducing stuff.  There are TEN songs left on this compilation?  Just brutal.

Track five is next and it’s She Wants To Dance With Me, a former Canadian #1 that Astley performed at the 1989 Grammys.  It was, according to Wikipedia, “Astley’s first self-composed single that he released.”  Oh, no.

On to the song…oh my, it’s a synth intro, not a drum one!  Well, the drums kick in after a couple of seconds, so that’s sort of a lie.  More of the same stuff as the first four songs here…if I had a nickel for every time Rick says “she wants to dance” in this song, I’d have a double-digit amount of nickels.  Whoa…is that a saxophone solo at roughly the two-thirds mark of the song?  Yes, sir!  Not horrible, which is high praise at this point.

Track six: Take Me To Your Heart.  I think all these song titles are lines from the movie Top Gun.  If you can guess what two instruments this song sounds with, I’ll give you…absolutely nothing.  This song is way different than the first five in that it has backup female singers in a call-and-response chorus, and…nothing else different at all.  Would it kill you to do SOMETHING else, Rick?

Don’t Say Goodbye is track seven.  I am perilously close to doing just that.  I will listen only if this doesn’t open with a drum/synth intro…

Oh my goodness, it doesn’t!  It opens with Rick’s voice alone!  (Damn it all.)  This is another potential nickel-maker with the phrase “don’t say goodbye, girl.”  I don’t know if I can take any more of this.  We’re only midway through the album, too.  Time for some quick summaries at this point.

Track eight is I Don’t Wanna Lose Her, the only track on this compilation without a corresponding Wikipedia page.  I think every beat and lyric is cut and pasted from another song on this album.  Track nine is Giving Up on Love.  I know I am at the moment.  (Also, I guess Rick lost her.)  This opens with a drum followed by some synthy-bells-type stuff straight out of a Christmas song.  Here are two amazing sentences from this song’s Wikipedia page:

1) “The song notably contradicts the theme of faithfulness to a lover Astley had been known for with songs like “Never Gonna Give You Up“, “Whenever You Need Somebody” and “Together Forever“, causing some to feel betrayed by Astley.”  RICK!  YOU FILTHY BETRAYER!

2) ” Astley later admitted in 2009 that the single was released as a ploy to draw in teenage girl listeners, and that he had not in fact given up on love.”  PHEW!

Track ten is It Would Take A Strong Strong Man, in which Rick claims “my heart’s been hurtin’ when I see you flirtin’, every night out on the floor.”  Is Rick at the club every night?  Or is his girlfriend just talking to the kitchen tiles?  More lyrics here include “my heart starts achin’, my hands keep shakin’”…is he stealing lines from AC/DC?  Track eleven is Hold Me In Your Arms, which must have been a Journey song.  Wikipedia says “it was Astley’s first true self-penned ballad but suffered on the charts largely due to his deteriorating relationship with the UK press.”  Bloody ‘ell, Ricky.  He tries really, really hard to sing this one all meaningful-like.  Doesn’t work.

We’ve now reached the part of the album that no one cares about, since the next song is a cover of Doris Day’s When I Fall In Love.  Once you get to the cover songs on this compilations, we’ve run out of any quality original material.  This song has also been covered by Nat King Cole, and it’s pretty clear that Rick is trying to sound exactly like Nat on this one.  Doesn’t work.

Track thirteen, the second-to-last one, is titled Cry For Help.  Well, it’s a little too late for that.  Amazingly enough, this is the first song off of Astley’s third album – this dude stacked his hits together.  This is some sort of a soulful ballad with lots of piano and choir, a happy and head-bobbing choir.  Not terrible, but totally unmemorable.  The final song is Hopelessly, which was apparently his last single for about eight years, since Astley retired until 2001.  It’s very average, but hey, apparently Rick Astley was a backup singer on Can You Feel The Love Tonight on the soundtrack for The Lion King!  Awesome!

This was bad, but at least I discovered lots of great Rick Astley facts, like the fact that he has only made $12 off of his video’s plays on YouTube since he wasn’t a songwriter.  Oops.

——

All right, JB, ball’s in your court…since you’re such a fitness freak, your goal is to review the latest edition of Men’s Health.  A quick Google search reveals a recent David Beckham cover – sounds right up your alley.

As always, we encourage you to send us your best suggestions at kevinbrown@syracusechiefs.com or jasonbenetti@syracusechiefs.com

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