On this day in 1988, English singer Rick Astley went on to dominate the charts for 2 whole weeks with his #1 hit single "Never Gonna Give You Up." No one knew what it was destined to become.
On this day in 1988, English singer Rick Astley went on to dominate the charts for 2 whole weeks with his #1 hit single "Never Gonna Give You Up."
Astley–a gangly 21-year-old with a vivacious pompadour, crooked teeth, and ill-fitting garments– took the world by storm with a handful of hits including, "Together Forever" and "It Would Take a Strong Strong Man." His musicality and lyrics all revolved around a similar theme: "I love you, do you love me? Hold me. Let's dance." Then the pop star faded out with the times and retired at the age of 27.
"I was a young guy and I was like, I don't want to be doing that every single day of my life," he told Rolling Stone in 2016. "I want to hang out with my friends. I've made a lot of money. I want to spend some of it."
But some time in May of 2007, Astley's career was unconventionally revitalized. An anonymous user, on the infamous message board 4chan, posted what was labeled as a debut trailer for the game Grand Theft Auto IV, but when people clicked the link, it took them to the music video for "Never Gonna Give You Up." The sensation was based on another, lesser-known 4chan prank called "Duckrolling." Christopher Poole, 4chan's founder, made it so that anytime a user wrote the word "egg" on his site, it would be randomly changed to "duck." The correlating theme: Trick users into experiencing the unexpected.
Thus, Rickrolling was born.
The trend took off like wildfire on YouTube throughout the early aughts and spawned a lot of silly reaction videos in the process, re-exposing unsuspecting patrons to the work of the then-retired Astley. "It's done a lot of good," Astley said of "Rickrolling" in 2016. "[It] reminded another generation [about me]." Thanks to the unexpected trend, Astley unexpectedly went on to win "Best Act Ever" at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2008.
In hindsight, the singer admitted that "Never Gonna Give You Up," was undeniably '80s and perfect for the prank it inevitably became. "We made it the week we went to Number One in the U.K," he said of the now legendary music video. "No one sat me down and said, 'We're thinking of you wearing this,' I literally just turned up with my clothes." He admitted that Rickrolling has forever changed his reputation, but he's come to terms with it. "There's no getting away from it now, and I've got to own it because if I don't, it's like being petty."
Check out the music video below, and happy Rick Rolling Day!
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