With a big advertising campaign in gear and a U.S. tour on the way, ‘80s pop star Rick Astley has no plans to give anything up in 2022. But first, he sportingly looked back at the Rickroll phenomenon, which he still finds hard to explain.
The 55-year-old singer told the Daily News that he was first Rickrolled — an internet prank where the music video for his 1987 hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” pops up unexpectedly after someone clicks on an email link they think is for something else — when a friend from Los Angeles sent him an email that included the snippet around the time the trend began 15 years ago.
“I didn’t know what a Rickroll was so I thought he was being what he thought was funny, and I sent him a very short email back asking ‘What are you doing?’” Astley recalled.
He notes that at the time, being able to look up old music videos on YouTube at all was less common.
“It was pretty weird honestly and it took me a while to grasp it,” he said from his suburban London home via Zoom.
It worked out pretty well for Astley. He says a newer generation now knows his music and that it’s been good for business. In July, the nearly 35-year-old pop song recorded its 1 billionth YouTube viewing. It also led to Astley’s current “New Year New You” RickRok campaign for Frito-Lay, where fans can go online at NeverGonnaGiveItUp.com to talk about things they’re not going to give up, record a duet with Astley using the TikTok social media platform and compete for prizes.
“The way that people have used the internet, for absolutely hilarious things sometimes, has sort of given us an amazing opportunity in the world,” Astley said.
Fans are also free to dance in their video duets, though they should be warned that Astley was widely teased for his moves following the music video for “Never Gonna Give You Up.”
“All it was, was pure fear,” he laughed, recalling that video shoot. “Somebody put a video camera and 25 people in a crew in front of me and said ‘Come on son, give it your best shot.’ So I think my dancing was not really dancing. It was a 21-year-old kid with fear running through his veins. That’s all it was.”
Astley said fans can see something that resembles dancing in his RickRock campaign, which kicked off on Christmas Day.
“There will be some movement, there will be some shapes,” he said. “There will be shapes and colors and movement.”
Dancing isn’t the only thing Astley has no plans of giving up. Because the COVID pandemic has restricted everyone’s movements, his New Year’s resolution is to get out and live again. That includes a U.S. tour with fellow 1980s acts New Kids On The Block and Salt-N-Pepa.
“We’ve been through a hell of a couple years, the whole world has,” he said. “The idea of having to give something else up … you know what I mean?”
While Astley is best known for “Never Gonna Give You Up,” he did score a couple of other hits back in the day. One of those was the song “Together Forever,” which he wouldn’t mind turning into a RickRoll viral sensation, too.
“To be honest, I wish somebody would do that — that’d be pretty cool,” he said with a grin. “But I think it’s a one-song deal.”
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