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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We Interrupt This Across The Pond And Beyond Blog For An Important News Bulletin

Normally, I would just leap in and talk about what today's blog subject is, but before I do, I have a very public announcement to make...more along the lines of a warning.

I think we may be on the verge of a real epidemic in the world of cyberspace.

No computer virus or malware threat could infiltrate as many computers as this phenomenon surging across the globe like a sonic boom.

It started off innocently enough in 2007.  At first, only a few people were affected, but over the past four years, a whopping 35 MILLION people have been knocked senseless by this growing threat.  Some reacted with absolute frustration, others merely laughed it off.  And, some vindictive people, upset that they had become victims, decided to spread it to other unsuspecting people.

Unsuspecting victims had no clue what was to come.  Clicking on websites promising the moon and more.  Trying to download video clips of that show you missed.  Attempting to watch live embarrassing bloopers.  Sure.  That's what they WANT you to think.

Oh, speaking of which...someone just e-mailed me this video link.  You know that show Family Guy?  One of my favourite clips on that show was the whole fight between Peter Griffin and that giant oversized chicken.  Well, I have some great news!  Someone sent me this e-mailed link to me.  Apparently, they have word that the season premiere of Family Guy will have an all new fight scene between Peter and the Chicken, and they promised that someone will not get out of it alive!

I haven't watched the video yet...and unfortunately, the video has been dubbed in Korean, but least it fits the theme day, right?  But, I wanted to share this with you before I inadvertedly end up becoming a victim of this plague that seems to be attacking computers left and right.

Ladies and gentlemen...I give you...a preview of the Family Guy Korean.

Wait...what th-.

What the hell is this?!?

The video clearly shows a chicken in the previews, but...what the heck is going on at the beginning?

There's no blood.

There's no Chicken.

All I see is the president.

The president dancing with Ellen.

And, singing something...

Oh no.

Oh, no, no, no, no, no.

Not me too!  NOT ME TOO!!!

AUGH!!!!!  I'VE BEEN RICKROLLED!!!!!!!!!!!

But, have ALL OF YOU TOO!!!!

But, don't be afraid, you guys.  This ties in with the theme for today's actual blog entry, which I like to call...

Across The Pond And Beyond:  The Rick Astley Edition

And here's the song that got the ball rolling...

Some stats:

ARTIST:  Rick Astley
SONG:  Never Gonna Give You Up
ALBUM:  Whenever You Need Somebody
DATE RELEASED:  July 27, 1987
TOTAL VIEWS ON YOUTUBE AS OF JULY '11:  35,923,789 and counting!

That's a lot of Rickrolling for you.

But, what exactly IS Rickrolling?  And, how did it start?

As I alluded to, the whole business kicked off in 2007, which appropriately enough was 20 years after the single "Never Gonna Give You Up" (Astley's breakthrough hit) was released.  It started up as a simple prank around the beginning of the year.  Much like I have done at the beginning of this blog entry, you take a link or a video clip that seemingly seems innocent enough, but too irresistible not to explore.  But once you click on it, you are immediately taken to either a clip of 'Never Gonna Give You Up' playing on an endless loop, or the music video itself.  By May 2007, the prank had garnered publicity, and on April Fools Day, 2008, YouTube and several other sites made every link on their home page redirect to Rick's video.

It proved to be great fun, and even Rick Astley himself was quite chuffed over the Rickrolling trend.  In fact, proving what a good sport he was about it all, let me direct you to a clip of the Macy's 2008 Thanksgiving Day parade.  Don't's not another Rickroll trick...not exactly, anyway.

I think it's pretty cool to see that he's such a good sport about it all.  If anything, it may have given his record sales a little bit of a boost...

...or prompted the massive burning of every single copy of 'Whenever You Need Somebody' by a group of radicals who may have been Rickrolled fifty times too many.

Still, have to wonder if Rickrolling is the only legacy that Rick Astley will ever really be known.

Because in my honest opinion, (and I am aware that I could face some ridicule here for admitting this on a public forum by those who are pro-Rickroll, and could possibly be anti-Rick Astley), I think Rick Astley is a very underrated singer.

In fact, I'm going to go on the record to say that there's a hell of a lot more to Rick Astley than what it seems.  It involves more than Rickrolling.  It involves a young man from England who wanted to have success as a singer, but seemed to hit roadblocks one right after the other.

It seems hard to believe, but why not take a guess as to how old Rick Astley was when he recorded 'Never Gonna Give You Up'?  Not released.  Recorded.  Anyone?

Okay, I'll tell you.  Rick Astley was born on February 6, 1966 in England.  'Never Gonna Give You Up' was recorded on New Years Day, 1987.

If I'm doing my math correctly, this means that when Rick recorded that song, he was one month shy of turning TWENTY-ONE!!! 

Now, I ask you know any 21 year old males who have such a deep, distinctive voice as Rick Astley?  I think not!

It's hard to overlook it though, because for his first two albums, he was under the Stock/Aitken/Waterman production team, which was heavily influenced by synthesizer pop music.  It's very easy to lose the impact of the vocals when placed against drum machines and Yamaha keyboards, such as in his 1988 song 'Together Forever'.

Okay, so the lyrics weren't exactly Shakesperian, or even Tori Amos like, and the music video was so bright, you needed those special glasses used to view an eclipse.  You can't deny that for someone barely in his twenties, he had one heck of a voice.  I'm not afraid to admit it.

Speaking of voices, Rick had a little bit of controversy that was linked to another Stock/Aitken/Waterman prodigy, Kylie Minogue.  A crazy rumour began circulating that Rick Astley actually sang Kylie's song 'I Should Be So Lucky', only it was sped up to make it sound like Kylie sang it.  I know it sounds completely bizarre, so I wanted to see for myself.  First, here's Kylie's original video.

Now, watch what happens when you drop the pitch a few octaves.

Eventually the rumour turned out to be completely it so happened, Kylie Minogue really did sound like Rick Astley when slowed down...but it wasn't exact.  Still, you kind of have to wonder what both of them thought of this little rumour.

It seems unfortunate...almost a crime really, that most of Rick's best known songs are fluffy dance hits, when I felt some of his best work was after he left the S/A/W production team.  He released two albums after that period, 'Free' in 1991, and 'Body And Soul' in 1993.  Both of them were a departure from his pop background, with him moving in towards a more R&B/soul angle.  The public weren't as receptive to Rick's new genre, and I find it a shame, because I thought he grew as an artist and his songs afterwards were very powerful and emotional.

In case you think I've lost my mind, I'll post an example.  Here's 'Hopelessly' from his 1993 album, which hit #4 on the adult contemporary charts.

Again, some of you might not agree with me, and that's fine, but I really liked this one, as well as most of his later efforts.

He retired from the music scene shortly after this video was released to concentrate on his family at the ripe old age of 27.  (On a side note, don't we all wish we could retire at 27?  And, people claim he was a one-hit wonder!)

He's done some singing since then, and has released a few songs, but none of them matched the success of his previous records.

Regardless, Rick Astley will probably always be in the public eye for years to come, mostly because of the Rickrolling prank.

But, you know what?  I'd like to think that some people out there will remember him for his musical talents, because in my opinion, Rick Astley has what a lot of people currently in the music business seem to be completely lacking.

He actually has the vocal talents to back it up, unlike some others who must rely on an auto-tuner to get through one track on a manufactured pop mess.

I think that should be celebrated, not matter who the artist is.

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