The Internet’s most popular prank, Rickrolling, has driven the official video for Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up to the prestigious 1 billion views milestone. To celebrate the achievement, singer Astley pinned a comment on the video announcing the moment, thanking fans for the “amazing, crazy, wonderful” milestone.
Never Gonna Give You Up was uploaded by Rick Astley on YouTube in late 2009. The song soon became a popular prank that reached meme status, with Internet users alleging they’d linked to one thing when, in reality, the person who clicked the link would be taken to YouTube’s copy of the music video.
The meme involving the song has greatly outpaced the song’s own popularity, driving it to reach a unique milestone on YouTube: more than a billion views. Though that’s not even close to the top-ranking songs, which have raked in billions of more viewers, it is still a notable, prestigious milestone that few videos can claim.
It’s safe to say that the majority of views on the video were due to Rickrolling, the name for the Internet’s most popular prank, not because viewers wanted to get nostalgic by listening to an ’80s pop song. Of course, the viewership figure doesn’t give us one key piece of information: how long each viewer actually watched the video. It seems a safe bet that most people probably click away from the video within the first few seconds.
The Internet prank’s enduring popularity has made it a part of pop culture that has, at times, bled over into the real world. There was that time in 2008, for example, when Rick Astley ended up Rickrolling the entire country with his appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.