Rick Astley, whose 1987 hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up” is embedded in Americana and meme history, is suing rapper Yung Gravy for impersonating his voice, Billboard reports. Astley alleges that Gravy’s 2022 breakout hit, “Betty (Get Money),” imitated his voice without legal authorization.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles, and claims that “Betty (Get Money)” imitated Astley’s distinct voice in his eighties classic.
“In an effort to capitalize off of the immense popularity and goodwill of Mr. Astley, defendants … conspired to include a deliberate and nearly indistinguishable imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice throughout the song,” Astley’s attorney alleged. “The public could not tell the difference. The imitation of Mr. Astley’s voice was so successful the public believed it was actually Mr. Astley singing.”
Representatives for Yung Gravy did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.
During the making of “Betty,” Gravy and his team allegedly got the green light to use the instrumentals to “Give You Up,” but not Astley’s vocals. The filing states that Gravy did not have the rights to use the actual sound recording of Astley’s track, known as “sampling.”
In order to imitate the singer’s “signature voice,” the suit alleges that Gravy hired Nick “Popnick” Seeley, who, fun fact, wrote the beat for “Get Schwifty” on the animated series Rick & Morty. The lawsuit even quotes an Instagram video in which Popnick said he intends for the song to “sound identical” to Astley’s vocals.
“A license to use the original underlying musical composition does not authorize the stealing of the artist’s voice in the original recording,” Astley’s legal team stated. “So, instead, they resorted to theft of Mr. Astley’s voice without a license and without agreement.”
“Never Gonna Give You Up” reached Number One in 25 countries. “Betty” reached gold status in the U.S. with the New York Times heralding it as “a real-life rickroll that functioned as a comedy song, a TikTok trend and a nostalgia trip all at once.”