Rick Astley On Rickrolling

The well tread internet joke that Gawker once called the web equivalent of ’80s bait “…NOT” should need no explanation by now. But if your mouse has had a sheltered existence, you can find a text summary of the phenomenon here.

And that’s Rickrolling: misdirection from an anticipated link, leading you instead to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It’s been a web phenomonen for a good year now — an update on duckrolling — and is now transcending the internet to be embraced in entirely new and exciting nerd ways. For instance at sporting events (via NYT)…

The women’s basketball game at Eastern Washington University on March 8 started out like any other, as the Eagles of E.W.U. faced off against the Montana State Bobcats.

But a routine timeout turned into a 1980s flashback, as two men on the sidelines briefly hijacked the proceedings with a popular prank known as rickrolling. They surprised the crowd by blasting the British singer Rick Astley’s 1987 hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up” through the gym, while one, dressed as a look-alike in Mr. Astley’s signature trench coat, lip-synched and mugged to the music.

The NY Times goes even further with the live-action redefinition of the web joke:

Rickrolling has also come to mean a disruptive blast of the Astley song in a variety of situations. Former Scientologists protesting against the church, for example, have been playing and singing the song this year outside Scientology offices in London, Washington, Seattle and other cities.

We provide all this background to say, yes of course we also have wondered what Astley makes of all this. When told about it, does he just awkwardly dance it off in a big trench coat and sunglasses? Or has it gone to his head? The Times says: “It is not clear what Mr. Astley himself thinks about rickrolling. He has not spoken publicly about the meme and efforts to reach him through his agent were unsuccessful.”

Fortunately, the LA Times had a little more luck getting their man.

Via LA Times:

“It’s a bit spooky, innit?” said Rick Astley, the singer who made the song famous in 1987 and who is not dead. With considerable help, including assists from RCA Records, the webmaster of Astley’s U.K. fan site, and his manager at Sony BMG, I tracked down Astley at his home in London last weekend. He spoke for the first time about the phenomenon called Rickrolling…

“I think it’s just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it,” Astley said. “But that’s what brilliant about the Internet.”

“If this had happened around some kind of rock song, with a lyric that really meant something — a Bruce Springsteen, “God bless America” … or an anti-something kind of song, I could kind of understand that,” Astley said. “But for something as, and I don’t mean to belittle it, because I still think it’s a great pop song, but it’s a pop song; do you know what I mean? It doesn’t have any kind of weight behind it, as such. But maybe that’s the irony of it.”

At least Rick’s got some grasp of irony. And no delusions of cashing in on the phenomenon:

“I don’t really know whether I want to be doing that,” he said. ” I’m not being an ageist, but it’s almost a young person’s thing, that.”

“I think the artist themselves trying to remix it is almost a bit sad,” he said. “No, I’m too old for that.”

“Listen, I just think it’s bizarre and funny. My main consideration is that my daughter doesn’t get embarrassed about it.”

From the man who penned “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down,” we expected no less. You sir are a well intentioned gentleman. So we made a card for you. View it here.

Tags: Rick Astley