By Jeremiah Vaille
At the beginning of the month, I was rickrolled by one of my professors. Professor Kinzli sent his hydrology class a hyperlink to a video to watch before class, but the hyperlink went to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” music video. Since it was April Fool’s Day which occurs on April 1st, this was his prank for the class. When I got rickrolled by Prof. Kinzli, it was the second time I was rickrolled that week, so I became interested in the history of the internet meme, “rickrolling,” and its association with April Fools Day. I will share with readers some of what I learned.
Rickrolling is an internet prank where someone sends a link that they claim is relevant, but the link leads to the now well know music video. The prank began in 2007 and grew in popularity as an April Fool’s Day prank in 2007 and 2008. The song “Never Gonna Give You Up” came out 20 years prior in 1987. Rick Astley had a successful career in the music industry from the early 1980s to 1994 when he retired from music to raise his daughter. Rick Asley enjoyed a quite life until he began touring again in 2001.
The songs popularity began to grow again in 2005 after the song was play in an episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” The prank part of rickrolling began as “duckrolling” where someone would send a link to a picture of a duck on wheels on the internet forum “4chan.” In 2007 rickrolling became a prank when a trailer for the game “Grand Theft Auto IV” was released and crashed. A 4chan user then pranked others by posting a hyperlink that they claimed was for the trailer but went to the video for “Never Gonna Give You Up.” On April 1st that year, many members of 4chan posted links leading to the music video. During the next year, rickrolling became public and offline at protests and sporting events. Youtube even rickrolled its users on April Fool’s Day 2008 by having all the home page hyperlinks lead to Rick Astley’s song. Since then, millions of internet users have been rickrolled. Rick Astley was surprised by the trend, but appreciated that people were enjoying his old music.
Rickrolling is a classic prank that could be used on anyone that you may communicate with. Take a note for next April Fool’s Day, send it as a prank another time to get back at the pranks you were dealt this year.