Rick Astley has never been as popular and he owes it all to YouTube. The popular video sharing site has linked everyone of it's "Featured Videos," those videos shown on its homepage, to Astley's music video of "Never Gonna Give You Up."
The Astley music video was posted by a YTRickRollsYou. Upon clicking on the accounts name to the right of the video, one is directed to the YT RickRollsYou channel page with a large banner exclaiming "Happy April Fool's Day!" As YouTube is visited by millions of people and is literally a world-wide hub for web video display, this prank will rank high of today's April Fool's hijinx.
The meaning and explanation of YouTube's prank is explained and can be found through YTRickRollsYou's channel page. Clicking on the link in the channel box following "Web Url," which is underneath his album cover, Astley's wikipedia page comes up and seven lines down, we see the motivation behind YouTube's false linking:
The music video for the song has become the basis for the Internet meme "rickrolling".For those who do not know what "Rickrolling" is, and I must say I was one of you, wikipedia describes it's origin:
The meme takes its name from an anonymous message board meme known as "duckrolling", a prank in which someone would post a blind link to a post, allegedly relevant to the discussion, that upon viewing would prove to be a non sequitur - specifically, an image of a duck on wheels. Similarly, in a rickroll, a person provides a link they claim is relevant to the topic at hand which actually takes the user to the Rick Astley video. By May 2007, the practice had become widespread, and it eventually began to receive some coverage in the mainstream mediaSo as "Rickrolling" is supplying a false link in an effort to prank, the YouTube channel's name makes even the more sense, as "YTRickRollsYou" can be easily seen as standing for "YouTube Pranks You," adding to the April fool's day mockery.
A further note of interest is that on the same wikipedia page of "Rickrolling" under "Reported Instances" we have YouTube's very own April first implementation of the term, as well as a few other internet sites:
On April 1, 2008 (April Fools' Day), all YouTube Featured Videos hyperlinked to the Rickroll. The prank began with international YouTube portals before affecting the main site. In addition, LiveJournal announced on the same day that they would be adding a new member to their Advisory Board, linking members to the journal "rickastley", which contains a Rickroll. Also, on the same day, Isohunt had the Rick Astley video instead of their normal frontpage.Because of this YouTube prank, the 1987 Rick Astley video has skyrocketed in views. It once was not even on the YouTube charts, it soon launched to the 35th most viewed music video this week, and now is currently the second most viewed music video this week. Within an hour the video has gone from 443,868 views to a current 3.7 million views. Comments on the video have followed suit reaching 25,956; they range from the usual laughing-out-loud's (lol's) to the more common expletive wtf. Due to the video site's update times, it will only be known later today how many people have been YouTube Rickrolled.
It is interesting that as technology is often cited as making people strangers from each other through cellphones, computers, and television; technology can be seen, at least in this instance, as uniting people from around the world through expanding their ability to share experiences. In pranking the world, YouTube emphasized just another commonality we all share and to me at least that brings a smile.