1988 Countdown #97: Rick Astley, “Together Forever”

You can watch “Together Forever” here. No, you won’t get Rickrolled–for that to happen, technically you would have to be misdirected to “Never Gonna Give You Up.” But since “Together Forever” was the next Astley single off the Stock-Aitken-Waterman assembly line, it sure feels like “Never Gonna Give You Up, Part 2” or Astley II: The Wrath of Rickroll. (A couple of decades earlier, Motown churned out Four Tops singles the same way, following up “I Can’t Help Myself” with “It’s the Same Old Song,” which was also barely rewritten, but at least had the virtue of truth in advertising.) “Together Forever” isn’t as good a song as its predecessor, by the way–the chorus is catchy, but the verses are relatively unmelodic and overstuffed with syllables.

Rick Astley was an elfin kid from England with an improbably big baritone voice. These days, that would make him the dream contestant on American Idol. Back then, it made him an unusual pop star. He wasn’t much of a dancer and although he was reasonably good-looking, he always looked like a 14-year-old wearing his dad’s suits. This video tries to sex him up a bit: he gets three backup dancers in various ’80s outfits who at one point all smooch him, leading to lipstick on his cheeks and eyerolling. Astley doesn’t do much dancing himself, beyond swaying from one foot to the other, so the video also employs male dancers to bust some moves with the girls.

rick01.jpg

There is also a romantic plot, intercut with the performances. Let’s track its progression:

Act I
Astley bumps into an attractive girl wearing a red beret. The location is unclear. Hallway in an apartment building? Judging by Beret Girl’s large portfolio, we are in a modeling agency or a magazine office. But considering the big black-and-white tiles on the floor, we might be in a ’50s-themed diner. At any rate, they collide and Beret Girl drops her modeling portfolio on the floor. They both lean over to pick it up, and gaze meaningfully into each others’ eyes. As she walks away, Astley expresses himself the way he knows best, by soulfully running his hand through his hair. Astley discovers that Beret Girl has mistakenly left behind one photo, which apparently has her personal phone number on the back, rather than a contact at her agency.

Act II
Beret Girl is in the bathroom, looking at herself in the mirror. She has purportedly just stepped out of the shower, since there is a towel wrapped around her head, but she has also taken the time to do a full makeup job. Astley calls her on the phone. She is grinning before she even puts the receiver up to her ear–maybe she’s watching something funny on TV. Beret/Towel Girl is using an old-fashioned rotary-dial phone, while Astley is calling on some modern design-statement phone with large ridges around the mouthpiece. They talk; Beret/Towel Girl does not seem worried that Astley is stalking her.

rick03.jpg

Act III
Same location this time–they’re still on the phone. Beret/Towel Girl takes the towel off her head to reveal blonde wet hair. Astley is looking at her picture. For some reason, she’s looking at her own picture too. Maybe this is meant to establish that he didn’t dial a wrong number? The plot’s not moving forward very quickly, but surely they’ll meet up again soon.

Act IV
No, they’re still on the phone. Beret/Towel/Wethead Girl smells a pink carnation. It’s unclear whether Astley sent over flowers or whether she just likes olfactory stimulation. Well, the song’s reached the bridge, so we’ll obviously get them back together very soon. Maybe she’ll even put the beret back on before the end of the song.

rick02.jpg

Act V
Still on the phone. I don’t think this relationship’s going anywhere. B/T/W Girl pulls out her datebook to make an appointment. (You know what this video really needs to give it some action? Show her searching for a pencil!) She writes in their date: 7:30 on February 14, Valentine’s Day. Judging by its placement in her datebook at the top of the day’s vertical column, this is actually a 7:30 am meeting, and they’re planning a romantic breakfast. She blows him a kiss on the phone and they hang up.

Coda
Astley’s on the phone again, raising his eyebrows meaningfully. Maybe he’s called up another girl to discuss how a video that’s all about planning a first date seems even more ludicrous when set to lyrics about spending the rest of your life together for all eternity, or maybe he’s just enjoying the nuances of the dial tone.

“Together Forever” hit #1 (for one week). You can watch it here.

posted 22 May 2008 in 1988 and tagged , . 3 comments

3 Comments on 1988 Countdown #97: Rick Astley, “Together Forever”

  1. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    “It Would Take a Strong, Strong Man” is clearly the best Rick Astley single. I fear we aren’t going to get to see that one.

  2. Tom Nawrocki Says:

    All right, now that I have had time to watch the video, I think you’re missing the point here. Look at what Rick Astley has going for him: He’s not handsome; in fact, he looks like a rather dorky 14-year-old boy (although he does wear a suit nicely). He is tremendously inexpressive, with his sole means of showing emotion being a raised eyebrow. He can’t dance any better than your Uncle Murray at a wedding shaking it to “Celebration.”

    All he’s got is that voice. So how is he going to romance the ladies? Over the phone! It’s his only hope!

    I think he spends the entirety of the “Whenever You Need Somebody” video on one of those old 1-900 chat lines.

  3. Gadfly Brewer Says:

    I would like to know who all of the various hot girls in Rick’s video’s were. Help me out.

Leave a Reply

Keep up to date with new comments on this post via RSS.