Why is Rick Astley suing rapper Yung Gravy? (2024)

He's never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down - but he is potentially gonna sue you if you (allegedly) impersonate his distinctive baritone.

Rick Astley has filed a lawsuit against the rapper Yung Gravy over the song Betty (Get Money), which was released in 2022.

Here is a look at what's happened so far.

Why is Rick Astley suing Yung Gravy?

Yung Gravy's song Betty (Get Money) borrows heavily from the melody for Astley's 1987 hit Never Gonna Give You Up. This bit, however, was reportedly authorised, according to Rolling Stone.

The song also features the singer Popnick, who does such a brilliant job imitating Astley's voice that to the untrained ear, it sounds indistinguishable from the real deal.

Astley is claiming the use of the impersonator is illegal.

What does the lawsuit say?

Astley filed the lawsuit on Thursday 26 January at Los Angeles Superior Court.

His complaint says the song violates his right of publicity - or the right to control the commercial exploitation of a person's identity and prevent its unauthorised commercial appropriation by others - by featuring Popnick's impersonation.

"In an effort to capitalise off the immense popularity and goodwill of Mr Astley, defendants... conspired to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation of Mr Astley's voice," the lawsuit says. "The public could not tell the difference."

Astley's lawsuit seeks "millions of dollars" in damages, as well as profits from the song.

According to the singer's team, "a licence to use the original underlying musical composition does not authorise the stealing of the artist's voice in the original recording".

Yung Gravy and Popnick are among the defendants, along with Yung Gravy's record label, Universal Music Group's Republic Records.

The complaint states that Astley's claim resembles a 1988 case in which Bette Midler successfully sued Ford Motor Co for using a soundalike to sell vehicles, even though Ford had licensed her song Do You Want To Dance for an advert.

Who is Yung Gravy?

Why is Rick Astley suing rapper Yung Gravy? (1)

Real name Matthew Hauri, Yung Gravy is a 26-year-old rapper who was born in Rochester, Minnesota. He rose to prominence following the release of his 2016 debut single, Mr Clean, which went on to be certified platinum.

Betty (Get Money) is his most successful track to date, reaching number 30 on the US Billboard chart and going viral on TikTok.

In an interview with Billboard following the song's release, he spoke about the Astley sample, saying: "I always thought that sample would be sick to do something with. I just never figured it was clearable."

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"Somebody who had part-ownership of the rights to the sample hit me up like, 'We f*** with you, you should try it out'... we basically remade the whole song. Had a different singer and instruments, but it was all really close because it makes it easier legally.

"We said, 'Let's try to clear it and see what happens'. At first, two of the three writers that had to approve it, approved it, and one guy wanted us to make it a little bit cleaner."

Sky News has contacted representatives for the rapper, and for his label, for comment on the lawsuit.

Who is Rick Astley?

Why is Rick Astley suing rapper Yung Gravy? (2)

Astley, 56, is an English singer-songwriter who rose to fame through the Stock Aitken Waterman label - also home to Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan - in the 1980s. Never Gonna Give You Up was his biggest hit, topping charts around the world.

About 20 years later, the song saw a resurgence thanks to the Rickroll internet meme, in which the track unexpectedly interrupts unrelated content.

In 2021, the song passed a billion views on YouTube.

Other famous music lawsuits

Why is Rick Astley suing rapper Yung Gravy? (3)

Astley's lawyer Richard Busch is known for representing Marvin Gaye's family against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over their alleged copying of the song Got To Give It Up for their 2013 hit Blurred Lines.

There have been numerous other disputes over music rights in recent years.

In December 2022, a US lawsuit alleging that Taylor Swift stole lyrics for her hit song Shake It Off was dismissed by a judge ahead of a planned trial.

Read more:
Ed Sheeran wins High Court copyright trial
Taylor Swift lawsuit dismissed by judge
Katy Perry defeats Dark Horse appeal

Earlier in 2022, a case claiming that Ed Sheeran had copied a hook for his 2017 hit Shape Of You was also dismissed in the UK.

A case against Katy Perry was another long-running dispute in the US that came to an end in 2022, when a federal appeals court decided that the US pop star and her team were not liable to pay out $2.8m to a rapper who accused her of plagiarising part of one of his songs for her 2013 hit, Dark Horse.

Why is Rick Astley suing rapper Yung Gravy? (2024)


Why is Rick Astley suing rapper Yung Gravy? ›

PREVIOUSY, January 26: Rick Astley, whose 1987 worldwide hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” is an enduring cultural landmark, has sued rapper Yung Gravy. Astley's multimillion dollar lawsuit claims that use of an imitation of his voice on the single “Betty (Get Money)” was not authorized.

Did Yung Gravy steal Never Gonna Give You Up? ›

Yung Gravy settles with Rick Astley for using 'Never Gonna Give You Up' (the Rickroll song) The 2022 single “Betty (Get Money)” by Yung Gravy, left, borrows heavily from Rick Astley's 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

What does Rick Astley think of Yung Gravy? ›

Rick Astley sues Yung Gravy, claiming he 'flagrantly' imitated his voice on song 'Betty (Get Money)'

Who owns the rights to Never Gonna Give You Up? ›

While not mentioned in Astley's complaint, the entity that owns the publishing rights to “Never Gonna Give You Up” is Primary Wave, a prolific purchaser of publishing rights to catalogs tied to Bob Marley, Nirvana, and Prince.

Why did Rick Astley quit? ›

I'd had my time in the charts and made loads of money. I was no longer hungry for success. I'd also developed a fear of flying, which was strange after the amount I'd done, so that was that." Despite his decision to quit, Rick's heartbroken fans remained loyal particularly his massive fan-base in the US.

Did Yung Gravy have to pay Rick Astley? ›

The battle between Rick Astley and Yung Gravy is over. On Tuesday, Sept. 26, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE, the "Never Gonna Give You Up" singer, 57, and the meme rapper, 27, settled the lawsuit filed by Astley in January against Gravy (born Matthew Hauri) and his collaborators for an undisclosed sum.

Does Rick Astley get royalties from Never Gonna Give You Up? ›

only received $12 in royalties for his huge hit song. Never Gonna Give You Up, despite Rick rolling such a huge internet prank. that has caused the official music video for the song. to reach more than 1.4 billion million views.

Is rickrolling illegal? ›

No, Rick-rolls are fine as they are harmless.

How rich is Rick Astley? ›

The musician has amassed a fortune of £11.9million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. While he is known as a singer, his career was not always in the music industry. Rick was born in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, on February 6, 1966.

What is the lawsuit against Never Gonna Give You Up? ›

Gravy and producer Popnick worked in the studio to closely mimic Astley's vocals on “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which Astley's team referred to as “unauthorized, intentional, theft of his voice for commercial purposes.” Astley sued the rapper and his collaborators for violating his right of publicity, false endorsem*nt, ...

Is Rick Astley religious? ›

I'm not really religious. I've got a faith but I'm not exactly sure what it's in. It's mainly in human beings, I think.

When did Rick Astley come out? ›

His first single was the little-known "When You Gonna," released as a collaboration with Lisa Carter. His first solo offering was "Never Gonna Give You Up," Which was released in 1987 which spent five weeks at the top of the British charts and becoming the year's highest-selling single.

How was Rick Astley found? ›

He was spotted singing in a Warrington social club in 1984 by producer Pete Waterman, then of the hit-making partnership, Stock Aitken Waterman. Rick moved to London and served his apprenticeship as a studio tape operator-cum tea boy at their hit-making empire.

What song did Yung Gravy copy? ›

Rick Astley is suing Yung Gravy for imitating his vocals from "Never Gonna Give You Up" on the rapper's hit track "Betty." The track peaked at number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart last September, and was used in countless TikTok videos.

What song did Yung Gravy sample? ›

The song in question is Yung Gravy's newest single, “Betty (Get Money),” released in June 2022. Included within the song is a brief hook including a vocal replication that sounds similar to the voice of Rick Astley, as well as an instrumental recreation of Astley's “Never Gonna Give You Up.”

Did Yung Gravy ask Rick Astley to use his song? ›

Although Gravy's use of the melody and lyrics of Never Gonna Give You Up was authorised by Astley, his lawsuit claims that he never authorised Gravy and his collaborator, Nick Seeley, to use his “signature voice” on the song.

What is the Never Gonna Give You Up controversy? ›

The singer's 1987 worldwide hit Never Gonna Give You Up is interpolated in Yung Gravy's song Betty (Get Money). The song features an alleged imitation of Astley's vocals, something the singer said had not been agreed. The lawsuit claims that Astley's distinctive voice is a resource that needs to be carefully managed.

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