Culture Feature

Is the Official Rickroll Video Being Sold as an NFT?

Are we about to lose an essential piece of early Internet culture?

Since the early days of the Internet, culture has been accelerating exponentially.

Each year, more data is created than the year before. More images, videos, articles are pumped into the ether daily than at any time in history, and the rate of growth shows no sign of stopping, with 2020 seeing roughly twice as much data creation as 2018.

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Smashrolling: how Smash Mouth's "All Star" is replacing the Rickroll

Rickrollers seemingly giving Rick Astley up

The infamous 'Rickroll' is one of the earliest, most common (and most fun) meme tropes, an Internet prank that involves a disguised hyperlink leading to Rick Astley's 1987 music video for "Never Gonna Give You Up."

The original Rickroll is attributed to a 4chan user who used a fake link to a Grand Theft Auto trailer to Rickroll users on a video game thread in early 2007, making Rick Astley popular for the first time in over a decade and likely adding a few cents to Astley's bank account in the form of royalty checks. But has the meme sun set for the Rickroll? Recently, a rash of videos parodying Smash Mouth's 1999 hit "All Star" has broken out, and meme scientists are predicting that it could oust the Rickroll as the go-to bait-and-switch web joke. Popdust's meme-dream-team weighs in on whether or not "All Star" stands a chance at replacing "Never Gonna Give You Up" as the new Rickroll.

Popdust Chief Meme Officer Ben Tomaiuolo's take:

For my money, "All Star" could definitely replace "Never Gonna Give You Up," as the best bait-and-switch prank video on the Internet. Merely looking at the timelines, Rick Astley's 1987 track became a full-fledged meme about 20 years after it was released [in 2007]. 2019 would mark the 20th anniversary of the release of "All Star." The members of Smash Mouth are currently more newsworthy today than they ever were in their late nineties/early aughts heyday, and parody videos of "All Star" are just starting to break the ice in terms of Internet trends, with the help of meme all stars like my good Twitter friend, James Nielssen. Couple that with the fact that bait-and-switch style videos featuring "All Star" are already surfacing, and I suspect that Internet users will see a rise in "All Star" Rickrolling videos. But what will they be called?

Never one to balk at an opportunity to coin a meme phrase, Tomaiuolo debated between "Mouthrolling" and "Smashrolling" for several minutes before settling on Smashrolling as the name of the newest Rickroll repeal-replacement trend.

Tomaiuolo also cited a video of Donald Trump performing "All Star," which he compared to the famous trend of "Barackrolling," (the video of former POTUS Barack Obama performing "Never Gonna Give You Up") saying "Nobody has made a video of Trump performing 'Never Gonna Give You Up' yet, which is good because it seems like he's definitely going to give us all up."

Popdust Director of Multimedia Alex Chang's opinion:

Though Smash Mouth has the proper aesthetic for a meme in our post-modern era, I doubt that it will have the longevity that we saw through Rickroll. The drums in the beginning of that song have become perhaps more iconic than the Rick Astley himself. I don't see All Star with a similar immediacy toward frustration. We'll have to see though, I am a fan of All Star, personally...

Chang's opinion definitely has some merit to it as well; one of the big draws towards the Rickroll is the frustration it causes receivers ("You wouldn't get this from any other guy").

Popdust Techxpert Chris Nguyen weighed in as well:

It's just hard to displace the original. The Rickroll is the undisputed king, the one that started it all. It's basically the invention of fire for Internet trolling. Even if you get [Smashrolled], you'll always think of the Rickroll.
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