In March 1988, “Never Gonna Give You Up” ascended to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, giving Rick Astley his first #1 hit. Twenty years after pledging to never let you down, Astley’s getting an unexpected assist, thanks to the infinitely strange powers of the Interweb.
See, there’s this online phenomenon called “rickrolling.” Clicking on a link to a video, photo, or exclusive news, instead a handsome redheaded crooner appears on your computer screen, his velvety voice and arm-dancing oddly hypnotizing. It’s the “Never Gonna Give You Up” video. You’ve been rickrolled.
Yesterday, rickrolling reached fever pitch. As an April Fool’s Day prank, YouTube rickrolled all of its featured videos. Crazy Chihuahua? Baby Face Plant? Bunny Eating Banana? Nope—for one day only, it was wall-to-wall Rick Astley. (Either link, by the way, will indeed take you to the “Never Gonna Give You Up” video.)
To see how Astley himself feels about the song’s rickrolling rebirth, the Los Angeles Times tracked him down: “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.” He’s a good sport about it all, but why wouldn’t he be? Free exposure at this stage of his career could only benefit him.
The follow-up to “Never Gonna Give You Up” was the similarly themed “Together Forever,” notching his second #1. Though he’s had seven songs make the Top 40 tally, Astley hasn’t charted since 1993’s “Hopefully,” and his last non-greatest hits disc was 2005’s Portrait, an import collection of standards.
Astley is currently prepping for a UK tour with fellow ’80s Brit chart-toppers Bananarama, Paul Young, and ABC. The Los Angeles Times interview made no mention of a visit to this side of the Atlantic, where countless rickrolling fans just might embrace the real deal, too.
Need we remind Mr. Astley of his promise to never say goodbye, run around, and desert you? After all, we’ve got a pie chart to back us up.