Category Archives: cry for help

Underrated – ‘Cry for Help’ by Rick Astley (1991)


I have had a long day. Work has been a pain and its been pretty stressful. Anyway, that is all over for the week. I needed a beer to unwind, so I got one (Dragon Stout from Red Stripe – you can get it at Nisa and its got a great kick and tastes sweet). The ipod gets put on to shuffle – ‘Run’ by Gnarls Barkley, ‘Lights Out’ by Santogold, ‘Look After Me’ by Hot Chip, and then………this;

It stopped me in my tracks a bit. It wasn’t as if I haven’t heard it many times before (I purchased the 7″ single back when it first came out). I have always appreciated it, but tonight it just sounded like a great, even classic, single. It is tasteful, as opposed to gritty, but its soul cannot be doubted. When he sings these lines;

Why must we hide emotions?
Why must we never break down and cry?

All that I need is to cry for help.
Somebody please hear me cry for help.
All I can do is cry for help.

No need to feel ashamed. release the pain. cry for help.

they are plaintive and honest. Men, tears and soul are a common theme* (think of ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ by The Temptations, or ‘Drown In My Own Tears’ by Ray Charles) and this lyric is up there with the best – and then he brings out the big guns. So many pop tracks over the last few years wheel out the soulful backing choir, but as those lyrics finish, in kicks an understated, but powerful, backing choir. It sounds fantastic. A few strings thrown in as well to propel the track along to a finale with a bit of call and response between Rick and the backing singers. There is even a touch of a hammond organ swell in there.

Its fantastic, and underrated, and I just want it out there that I love it. ‘Cry For Help’ is the best thing he did, and as it was his last major hit in the UK, its a fine legacy.

* As much as I love ‘Drown In My Own Tears’ and ‘I Wish It Would Rain’, Stevie Wonder trumps them all with ‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You’, when he actually sounds at one point as if he is crying because the woman he loves makes him so damn miserable. He has his own ‘tear’ track with ‘Joy Inside My Tears’ from the ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’ album.