Yeah! That’s the link! You’ve absolutely absolutely got to click on this because it is perfectly relevant to today’s entry at hand.
Do not continue reading until you have clicked on that link.
Okay, right, so I assume you’ve clicked on it. So I guess you’ve been semi-Rickrolled, as I couldn’t bear to troll you with a genuine Rickroll video. However, many of you should have been Rickrolled at least once in your lives, where people link you to some seemingly relevant thing but it turns out to be a video of Rick Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up. It was all the rage during the April Fools period some years back, but I think it’s less popular and less effective now because people aren’t going to be taken in anymore. At least, till the next generation learns to get online.
I must say I do rather like the song after repeated listens — sometimes forcefully when clever Rickroll sites do not allow people to leave the window till the cheesy 80’s video has ended. It’s a marketing gimmick that’s revived Rick Astley’s ailing career and gotten him to places like the F1 Grand Prix in Singapore. It’s a pretty catchy song once you put aside your rage at having been tricked and probably as cool as those harlem shakes we see everywhere. And when I just typed “harlem shakes” I began thinking of some kind of milkshake. I’d much rather be Rickrolled than be forced to watch one of those countless harlem shake videos on YouTube again.
So Rickrolling began in the boards of 4chan, when Never Gonna Give You Up was attributed as a mirror video of the first trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV (which was unavailable due to heavy traffic). The practice spread out of 4chan and by April 2008, apparently 18 million American adults have been Rickrolled, which I suppose excludes foreigners like us.
And it seems a Rickroll flash mob took place in April 2008 as well. Now that sounds thrilling to me! If we could find some way to combine the good old days of Rickrolling with the harlem shakes of today, it’d be something new to watch. But if Rick Astley has gained notable fame after this, his cash registers aren’t showing it. He has only received $12 of performance royalties from YouTube so far, because he did not compose the song and so therefore only gets the performer’s share of the sound recording copyright. Aw shucks. Then again, Rickrolling was never meant to be a money-making venture.
What I hope Rickrolling achieves, aside from a renewed appreciation for oldies music, is increased cautiousness against suspicious links on the internet. Rickrolling is one thing, but links still have the potential to lead to software and viruses that harm your computer, and if you know to ward against Rickrolling, you should apply that knowledge and awareness to more malicious lurkers on the Web as well.
Either way, the thing about viral internet phenomena is that they get really popular for a short while and then are gradually forgotten or replaced by something else, like how harlem shake essentially replaces Gangnam Style. Timing is very important in assessing when videos and tricks like Rickrolling become viral, and if there’s a willing party out there, why don’t you consider researching on the factors that ensure a video becomes viral?