Rick Astley's Cry For Respect

UK singer's gospel cry in this week's Forgotten Video
  • Rick Astley in "Cry For Help"
October 13, 2010 -- 5:52 pm PDT
GRAMMY.com

Welcome to Forgotten Videos. Well, for some forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week we'll feature a video that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or, we'll be giving a fresh look at a video that deserves to be collecting dust. We're not here to judge, we just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.

Rick Astley
"Cry For Help"
1991

With "Cry For Help," deep-voiced, baby-faced singer Rick Astley let his hair down...literally.

Up until this, his fifth top 10 single, Astley was a groomed and coiffed product of the UK production team with the legal-firm name: Stock Aitken Waterman. Pete Waterman had discovered Astley singing in a soul group called FBI, and the trio of producer/songwriters began a short stretch of hits with Astley that included dance-pop records "Never Gonna Give You Up," the Motown flavored "It Would Take A Strong, Strong Man" and "Together Forever." But following two albums of this winning formula, Astley was beginning to feel like nothing more than a mouthpiece for the SAW team.

For his third album, the somewhat obviously titled Free, Astley was suddenly sporting long locks, had split with SAW, was writing or co-writing most of his material, and...was just one more album away from retirement (though he'd emerge from the golf links in 2002 with Keep It Turned On). But he went out swinging with "Cry For Help," a gospelly ballad that felt like an authentic plea to the world to be taken seriously as a complete artist.

Would it be too much to suggest that the song was a bit autobiographical, an artist coming to terms with his desire to break loose from his Svengali producers?

I wandered around the streets of this town
Trying to find sense in it all
The rain on my face it covers the trace
Of all the tears I've had to waste
Why must we hide emotions
Why must we never break down and cry
All that I need is to cry for help

Mmmm, probably. But it's a nice backstory that, along with the rapturous singing of the Andraé Crouch Choir, gives a little more heft to arguably the most heartfelt song of Astley's career.

Which Astley hairstyle did you prefer? Got a Forgotten Video recommendation? Leave us a comment.

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