On a Roll

He’s been in the New York Times, the L.A. Times, the BBC and The Guardian, the pop star your Mum used to like now an internet phenomenon in the papers your Mum likes to read.

Rick AstleyRick Astley, baby-faced British two-hit wonder from 1988 still baby-faced and viewed 15,000,000 times on YouTube—somebody’s got to be “taking the Rick” for sure?

The phenomenon is called “Rickrolling,” and if you just clicked that link you’ve been “rolled” as well.

Definition of Rickrolling

To quote the Urban Dictionary, ’rolling is:

To post a misleading link with a subject that promises to be exciting or interesting, e.g. “World of Starcraft in-game footage!”  [...] but actually turns out to be the video for Rick Astley’s debut single, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” A variant on the duckroll. Allegedly hilarious.

Rick Astley on Rickrolling

But what does Rick have to say about it all? You wouldn’t get this from any other guy…

For his part, Astley was nothing if not modest about his new cultural role. “If this had happened around some kind of rock song, with a lyric that really meant something — a Bruce Springsteen, “God bless America” … or an anti-something kind of song, I could kind of understand that,” Astley said. “But for something as, and I don’t mean to belittle it, because I still think it’s a great pop song, but it’s a pop song; do you know what I mean? It doesn’t have any kind of weight behind it, as such. But maybe that’s the irony of it.”

Astley would never put the song down, mind you. It’s just that, as he says, “If I was a young kid now looking at that song, I’d have to say I’d think it was pretty naff, really.”

(Wikipedia on “naff”: British slang for “something which is seen to be particularly ‘cheesy’ or ‘tacky’ or in otherwise poor aesthetic taste.”)

“For me it’s a good example of what some of the ’80s were about in that pop sort of music way. A bit like you could say Debbie Gibson was absolutely massive, but if you look back at it now … do you know what I mean?”

Yes, I think we do. But even still, with all the renewed attention to his work and his — albeit 20-year-old — image, does Astley have any plans to cash in on Rickrolling, maybe with his own YouTube remix?

“I don’t really know whether I want to be doing that,” he said. “ I’m not being an ageist, but it’s almost a young person’s thing, that.”

“I think the artist themselves trying to remix it is almost a bit sad,” he said. “No, I’m too old for that.”

Astley, who will be touring the U.K. in May with a group of other ’80’s acts, including Bananarama, and Nick Heyward, Heaven 17, Paul Young and ABC, sums up his thoughts on his unexpected virtual fame with characteristic good humor:

“Listen, I just think it’s bizarre and funny. My main consideration is that my daughter doesn’t get embarrassed about it.”

David Sarno, L.A. Times

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