What is Rickrolling?

Never gonna give you up

Rickrolling is a bait-and-switch prank that involves posting a hyperlink that is supposedly relevant to the topic at hand in an online discussion, but re-directs the viewer to the music video of “Never Gonna Give You Up,” a 1987 dance pop single by English singer-songwriter Rick Astley.

The bait-and-switch phenomenon had its beginning on the imageboard community 4chan as a spin-off of an earlier practical joke known as duckrolling, in which an external link with a sensational title (i.e., a specific picture or news item) would be redirected to an edited image of a duck with wooden wheels.

According to 4chan founder m00t[1], the “rickroll” phenomenon began in video games, circa May 2007, when someone posted a link to Rick Astley’s music video disguised as a sneak preview for the then-newly released video game Grand Theft Auto IV.

“Never Gonna Give You Up” is the debut single recorded by English singer and songwriter Rick Astley, released on 27 July 1987. It is Astley’s most famous song. It was written and produced by Stock Aitken Waterman, and was released as the first single from Astley’s debut album, Whenever You Need Somebody (1987). It reached #1 in 25 countries.

Students have handed in exam papers rickrolling their teachers, protestors have rickrolled Scientologists with crowds of boomboxes, and banners containing the video link in binary code, and hundreds of people once got down at a rickroll flash mob in London’s Liverpool Street train station.

Even Rick Astley has been personally involved in the phenomenon, unexpectedly performing on a children’s float in New York’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. On April 1st, 2008, every featured video on YouTube’s front page was redirected to the Rickroll music video. Portland, Maine, has a restaurant that serves a breakfast sandwich called the “Rickroll.” Courtesy of Rick’s Lobby Cafe, the sandwich comes with scrambled eggs and sausage that’s wrapped in a buttermilk pancake and covered in maple syrup.

Apparently, the restaurant once had a “Rickroll Challenge,” where three guys tried to eat three Rickrolls in under 10 minutes. Ultimately, some dude named Antonio wins. I guess you could say…he didn’t give up on those Rickrolls.

  1. Christopher Poole (Moot) created 4chan in 2003 when he was 15 years old and living in New York City. According to a 2007 article in The Star, moot frequented the Something Awful forums prior to creating 4chan. The site was launched on October 1st, 2003 as a place to discuss Otaku culture, inspired by the Japanese image board Futaba Channel (2chan), with a primary focus on anime and manga. Poole remained somewhat anonymous until his name was revealed in a Wall Street Journal article profiling 4chan on July 9th, 2008. His web presence remains fairly limited, but (outside of 4chan) he maintains an active Twitter account and personal blog. [Back]

Further Reading


Today I Found Out
Daily Dot
Smooth Radio
The Guardian
Know Your Meme

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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