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Rick Astley – Hold Me in Your Arms (1988)
purchase this album (Amazon)

Well, do you remember Rick Astley?
He had a big, fat hit — it was ghastly
He said “I’m never gonna give you up or let you down”
Well, I’m here to tell you that Dick’s a clown
— Nick Lowe, “All Men Are Liars”

My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me? — Jesus H. Christ, Matthew 27:46

And so, at last, Cutouts Gone Wild! has come to this. Those of you who have been wondering why this series is nearing its conclusion need only look at Rick Astley’s stupid head on the cover of his stupid second album for your answer — we’re reaching the absolute fucking dregs here, people. And you know what the worst part is? At some point between when I put Hold Me in Your Arms in the CGW! on-deck circle and today, those dicks at Sony BMG went and put this album back in digital print. The physical CD is still only available used, but if you want to download mp3s of this entire wretched album, it’ll only cost you $9.90 at the Amazon mp3 store. But guess what? I don’t care. I listened to this shit in preparation for this column, but I’ll be damned if I had to go through that for nothing. You fuckers are getting a Rick Astley column today, and that’s final.

Speaking of fuckers, hey look, it’s Richard Astley. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m unusually grumpy today, but of all the crap I’ve listened to during the four years this series has been going on, I think I might hate Hold Me in Your Arms most of all. Again, I’m not entirely certain why this should be; after all, it isn’t like Astley can’t sing, or anything about his music was particularly offensive. Objectively speaking, we’ve certainly covered worse here. And yet listening to this record makes me want to hit things — preferably things shaped like Rick Astley.

You want specifics. I can tell. You aren’t going to get them here. I’ve listened to this album twice already today, and that’s enough. Everything here sounds like the same horrible song, and listening to it makes me feel like it’s the summer after eighth grade and I’m trapped inside Wet Seal in the worst mall in Hell.

Okay, okay — here’s one specific thing I hate about this album: the fact that someone thought it would be a good idea to do a cover of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” (download) and Richard Astley went along with it. I’m aware that Astley wasn’t making his own creative decisions at this point, but still, he had enough free will to haul off and punch Stock, Aitken, and/or Waterman in the nuts for daring to suggest that a drum machine should come anywhere near this song. Every time I hear him sing “I know you wanna leave me,” a little piece of me dies. Naturally, I have included a download link here, so you can share the experience.

As for the rest of it? It’s bland. Very, very bland. Vanilla ice cream with ice cube topping bland. Aside from the hit, “She Wants to Dance With Me” (download), I can’t tell any of these songs apart. What, you want proof? Fine, you masochist — take “Dial My Number” (download). As for me, I’m never listening to any of these songs again — but I will meet you back here next week, for the penultimate edition of Cutouts Gone Wild!, as we look at the man responsible for one of the most simpering ballads of the late ’80s. See you then!