Rick Astley’s 1987 single ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ rolls up more than 1 billion views on YouTube as popularity of ‘Rickrolling’ meme continues
Rick Astley’s 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” has rolled up more than 1 billion hits on YouTube, benefiting from the ongoing popularity of an internet meme.
The official video for the song, uploaded nearly 12 years ago, recently surpassed the 1 billion mark, becoming only the fourth music video from the 1980s to do so, after Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine”, A-ha’s “Take on Me” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”.
The video’s popularity is in part due to an internet prank called “Rickrolling”, which dates back to 2007, and involves the song or its lyrics popping up unexpectedly.
For instance, users can be tricked into clicking on a link which promises one thing, only to lead them to a video of Astley singing the song.
Astley famously gave an unexpected performance on a float for The Cartoon Network in the 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, making that the biggest Rickroll to date.
In 2009 an Australian student created the first iPhone worm, which changed the device’s wallpaper to an image of the 1980s icon.
Last year, as users increasingly relied on Zoom meetings due to the pandemic, developer Matt Reed developed a tool that would automatically Rickroll teleconferences – although he was soon obliged to discontinue the service, as it violated Zoom’s terms and conditions.
However, the phenomenon has continued unabated, with the official video of the song gaining 2.3 million views on April Fool’s Day 2021 alone, according to YouTube.
Astley, 55, said in a video that the milestone was “mind-blowing”.
“I’ve just been told that ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ has been streamed a billion times on YouTube. That is mind-blowing. The world is a wonderful and beautiful place, and I am very lucky,” he said.
“Amazing, crazy, wonderful!” he added on Twitter.
Astley released a limited edition of 2,500 numbered 7-inch blue vinyl copies of the single, signed by him, for $17 (£12) each, and said the records had quickly sold out.
“Never Gonna Give You Up” reached No. 1 on singles charts in 25 countries upon its release. In 2008, thanks to Rickrolling, Astley won the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Act Ever for the song following a crowdsourced internet voting effort.
In a 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times the singer described the phenomenon as “just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it”.
“That’s what’s brilliant about the internet,” he added.