"Listen, I just think it’s bizarre and funny. My main consideration is that my daughter doesn’t get embarrassed about it."
A Rickroll is a particular Internet prank in which a link that supposedly goes to something relevant to the conversation is actually a link to the music video from Rick Astley's 1987 pop hit "Never Gonna Give You Up."
The meme started at the 4chan Image Board with the duckroll: the action of linking to a post in another thread only to annoy people. Posts in the same thread just get highlighted, but to view a post in another thread you need to load the entire thread—there is no way to tell if the link is from this or another thread without scripts or manually checking each post number. It used a picture of a duck on wheels as an image attached to the target post.
Rickrolling has become one of the few Internet memes to break into larger popular culture in some fashion—there have been newspaper articles on the subject, and even real-world Rickrolls where spectators at some public event end up watching the Astley video. Astley himself, apparently, is also amused by the meme.
The all-time champion of the sport is Cartoon Network, which successfully conspired with Rick Astley himself to prank the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2008. Crowning Moment of Awesome indeed. Rickrolling was also used in Scribblenauts, and was even invoked by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi when the House of Representatives launched its YouTube channel. And then the Oregon State Legislature managed to do a Rickroll without anybody noticing. Perhaps crowning the entire phenomenon was the White House Communications Department, which, in response to complaints on Twitter that a fiscal policy press conference was too boring, Tweeted a link to something it promised would be much more interesting. It turned out to be a Rickroll.
Variations include the BarackRoll and ReichRoll. Users of The Miniatures Page have a variation in which you instead link to a picture of Sean Connery as Zed. Brain Bleach ensues. In YouTube nowadays, it's somewhat easier to know if a video is a disguised Rickroll - you just need to see if below the keywords is "Features content from: Rick Astley Official Channel", or nowadays, "Music: Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up".
Popularity of the Rickroll phenomenon has led to fans remixing Astley's song with other pop culture artifacts, including Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (it seems both Ear Worms share the exact same time signature). You can listen to the mashup here if interested. And no, Bill O Reilly was not the very first Rickroll victim. For Chrono Trigger fans, there's the RoboRoll.
The original Rickroll video was deleted from YouTube on 24 February 2010 but restored soon afterward.
- It was a video by Sting that prompted him to walk off the set of his TV show, which is in a way more poetic