Where were you on that August day 34 years ago when Rick Astley released Never Gonna Give You Up?
It’s OK, you can admit you like the pop song. It’s fun. It’s up-tempo and so 1980s retro. And recently, the song everyone loves to mock surpassed 1 billion views on YouTube.
It’s probably all due to the “RickRolling” cyber prank. Has it ever happened to you? A person sends you a link on a specific subject. You click the link and it takes you to Rick Astley singing Never Gonna Give You Up. It’s all clever, harmless fun. Plus, it was an instant boost to Astley. The song generated more than 2 million views on April Fool’s Day.
The Washington Post reported that the RickRolling fun started about 2007. The Rick Astley song made it to YouTube two years later.
Astley acknowledged RickRolling in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“It’s done me a lot of good, probably,” Astley told the magazine in 2016. “The thing is, it’s not personal to me, even though I know it is me and it’s my name in the title of Rickrolling. It’s that video that I’m in, it’s that song that’s mine, but it could have been anybody.”
And when Astley discovered that he hit 1 billion, he did a humble brag on Instagram. He captioned his video: “1 BILLION views for Never Gonna Give You Up on You Tube ! Amazing, crazy, wonderful!
Besides Rick Astley, Videos from Bon Jovi and BTS Surpassed a Billion During Past Year
You’re probably wondering about other songs in the billion-view club. It’s definitely an elite club, with more members than you think. Entertainment Tonight reported that more than 200 videos surpassed 1 billion since You Tube first started 15 years ago. Rick Astley definitely is in good company.
The first billion-view video was Psy’s Gangnam Style. That was in 2012. Justin Bieber’s Baby followed in 2015. The most viewed video is the extraordinary ear worm Baby Shark song.
Besides Rick Astley and Never Gonna Give You Up, other artists and songs who eclipsed 1 billion during the past year include Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life and Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. K Pop also is big on YouTube. BTS is the most viewed group on the streaming platform. Two of their songs went billion — DNA and Boy with Luv –– in 2020-21. The K Pop girl group Blackpink also produced two songs that hit a billion or more views.
And one-hit-wonder Aha also saw their song Take on Me from 1985 also surpass one billion.
To celebrate his billion, Rick Astley announced that he was releasing 2500 vinyl recordings of the song, which he’ll autograph. People mock his song with the RickRoll prank, but Astley’s hit back in 1987 hit No. 1 in 25 countries. That’s how you define mass appeal.
As Rick Astley told Rolling Stone, he never viewed the prank as a negative.
“It’s like, ‘We’re choosing that video because it’s a full-on Eighties, cheesy video,’ Astley said about his newly found audience. “There’s no getting away from it now and I’ve got to own it because if I don’t, it’s like being petty.”