This Is Not a Rickroll: Five songs to get you excited for Rick Astley's Electric Factory gig - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Rick Astley, circa 1987

This Saturday, UK crooner Rick Astley will bring his classic 80’s pop stylings to the Electric Factory. At the time of his rise, many saw his songs as bubblegum fluff, another product of the Stock / Aitken / Waterman production team that also worked with Bananarama and Kylie Minogue. And true, all three acts suffered from stylistic similarities of some form or another during their time with SAW. However, like Kylie, Mr. Astley has got the goods and is the real deal.

Many of the kids out there reading this might know him best as the reason “Rickrolling” is a thing. “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and its resurgence in popularity has been very very good to Rick. He has a sense of humor about it and even personally Rickrolled a Macy’s Day Parade performance in 2008. But there’s more to this artist than a meme.

His voice sounds better than ever and his new album, 50, is a collection of gospel pop tunes that should bring comfort and positivity in these troubling times. Don’t think though that Rick Astley has gotten self-righteous and ultra serious, though. He also plays in a cover band with his mates and the catalogue includes The Sex Pistols and The Smiths. Recent YouTube tour clips show that this Saturday’s show is going to be a lot of fun.

Here is a list of five songs I’m really hoping he sings on Saturday. The Rickrolling is cute and all, but let’s get down to business.

“She Wants to Dance With Me” – This is the first Astley song I had heard where he didn’t sound like a robot, was having fun, and got to sing out a bit. This may be because it’s the first hit he had that he wrote himself. I bought the 45 single of this when it came out and still own it.

“Sleeping” – The album Keep It Turned On is a bit obscure. It was released in 2001 on German label Polydor. Thanks to the internet, many pop music fans have discovered this gem and do their best to convert others into seeing its brilliance. “Sleeping” is a solid pop tune from start to finish and is worth a listen.

“Highway To Hell” – Astley has been known to dabble in covers. His performances of “Get Lucky” and “Uptown Funk,” at festival shows have gone viral in recent months. Here he demonstrates his impressive drumming and does a killer version of the AC/DC classic.

“Angels on My Side” – Rick Astley’s new album, 50, sounds great. His voice is booming and shows range I’ve not heard before. This song should be on repeat for the next four years: a song about comfort and knowing that no matter what, your higher power (whoever that may be) is looking out for you.

“It Would Take A Strong Strong Man” – I always loved the SAW songs that deviated from their strict form. This isn’t a high energy dance tune but a mid-tempo number with surprisingly clever rhymes for SAW. His voice cracking on the line “maybe tomorrow,” gets me every time.

Rick Astley performs at the Electric Factory on Saturday, February 11th. Tickets are still available and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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