Music History

Rick Astley Turns 50 Today. Let’s Celebrate with the All-Time Greatest Rickrolls

As I type this, Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” has been viewed 177,243,481 times on YouTube. I’m going to go out on a limb here, saying that the vast majority of those views lasted 10 seconds or less as the result of Rickrolls, the Internet’s greatest bait-and-switch meme. You think you’re clicking on one thing and then BAM! That baritone red-headed bastard starts singing at you.

The first known act of Rickrolling dates back to a 4chan prank in 2007.  The meme spread to the point where within a year that it was estimated 18 million had been rickrolled.

You’d think that Rick himself would be thrilled by all this attention, not to mention greatly enriched. Actually, no. Since he didn’t write the song, he only gets performer royalties, which means he’s received less than $1,000 for those 177 million views. Meanwhile, the songwriting team of Stock/Aitken/Waterman, has made a ton of money. How much? YouTube is

How much? Not as much as you think. YouTube is mum on its definition of a “view” that results in money being paid out to the copyright owner. If the rumours of 30 seconds are true, then S/A/W certainly didn’t make money on all 177,242,481 views. Of all the times you’ve been Rickrolled, how many times did you let the video run at least 30 seconds? I thought not.

Still, Astley would have long disappeared from pop consciousness had it not been for Rickrolling. And on that note, let’s acknowledge his 50th birthday with this link to some of the greatest Rickrolls of all time.

Go ahead and click on that link. At least you’ll know what your’re gonna get.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38040 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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