It's probably a gross failing on the part of Firefox's developers that when I opened this link in a new tab, I couldn't shut it again without force-quitting the program, but as malware goes, this is pretty benign stuff, and its comedic value probably makes up for any inconvenience it causes.
No doubt this video was chosen as an illustration of all that is most annoying about '80s pop music, and Rick's combination of black turtleneck and weirdly high-collared trenchcoat, his absurdly peppy dancing, and the cuts to the groovin' African-American bartender to give him some street cred are pretty damning -- even if we manage to forget for the moment that he was the most unlikely physical specimen to emit such deep and resonant tones until Tay Zonday. Nonetheless, I would like to say a few words in defense of the much-maligned Mr. Astley.
I find this song kind of catchy, but his other inescapable hit from the '80s, "Together Forever", is one I actually went to the trouble of pirating and uploading to my iPod. You remember it -- "Together forever and never to part, together forever, we two."
That first line begins on the 5th scale degree, moves up to 6 and down again to 4, then leaps up a seventh to 3 on the syllable "for". (Ah, it's so nice to be able to wax technical and know that I'm not losing my audience, because they've all made such careful study of my music primers.) I hope to have occasion in the near future to rhapsodize about melodic leaps of a seventh, but suffice to say that they don't happen all that often in pop music, they're wonderful when they do, and 4 to 3 is a more interesting seventh than the more common 5 to 4 or 1 to flat-7. "Ever" comes down from 2 to 7 -- the 7's relationship to the melody's lowest tone (so far) insinuating a tritone, my other favorite melodic interval. Two words, and we've already covered six of the seven notes of the key. (Compare, for instance, James Blunt's "You're Beautiful", which I intend to slag off on this blog, and which consists almost entirely of three or four notes.) "Never" lowers the melody's floor from 4 to 3 -- expanding the range of notes it covers. "To" is another leap of a seventh (hurray!), from 3 to 2, in what the music theorists call a sequence -- a repetition (or at least an approximate repetition) of the preceding pattern of pitches, but begun on a different pitch. "Part" brings us, finally, to the only note in the scale that the melody has not traversed so far -- the root, the tonic, the "home base" of the key.
I submit that the melody to the lyrics "together forever and never to part" in Rick Astley's song "Together Forever" is about as interesting a pitch sequence as the major scale has to offer. And I think it's because I concentrate, when listening to pop music, more on things like pitch sequences and less on things like the singer's hair and the cheesy synth arrangements that my tastes so frequently confound my friends' expectations. (I sometimes suspect that that's also the reason nobody seems to like the songs I write as much as I do.)