Great job, internet! In your attempts to make everyone else’s life a living hell, you’ve made one man’s life much, much better.
The man in question is Rick Astley, the singer of the internet’s trolling anthem “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which hit a billion views this week. While the song has been used in the context of bait-and-switch pranks for nearly two decades, all that linking has turned the song into one of YouTube’s top-performing videos. It turns out that we just can’t give up “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
Originally released on July 27, 1987, “Never Gonna Give You Up” turns 34 this week. Reaching such a height is no small feat, even for a big birthday boy. The video joins the ranks of A-Ha’s “Take On Me,” Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but not Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” which hasn’t reached a billion views yet.
Of course, one of the main reasons the song has had such a life online is because of “rick-rolling.” A link bait-and-switch prank, “rick-rolling” is when someone hides a link to Astely video in a description that doesn’t relate to the song. So when someone thinks they’re going to see an adorable dog that they just can’t believe, they’re getting a link to Rick Astley’s music video.
YouTuber Erik Helwig, also known as Hot Dad, takes credit for the earliest known rick-roll. According to Helwig, he pulled the prank on a Michigan radio station in 2006. Within two years, Astley himself was getting in on the fun, pulling a live rick-roll at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2008.
So, we say it again, great job, internet. Your penchant for annoying the hell out of your friends has helped Rick Astley become an indelible part of being online.