The History of the RickRoll Meme

Mon, Apr 08, 2024

The History of the RickRoll Meme

In the ever-expanding universe of internet culture (thank you God), few memes have achieved the iconic meme status and enduring popularity of the RickRoll.

Yet, behind this catchy 80s tune and seemingly random appearances lies a rich history rooted in the early days of internet and viral content. In this exploration of the origins of this meme, we delve into the fascinating story of how a simple bait-and-switch tactic evolved into one of the most beloved and enduring original memes of the digital age.

Never Gonna Give You Up Pop song by Rick Astley

As said previously few memes have reached the legendary status of the RickRoll meme, a phenomenon that traces its roots back to the 1980s hit song Never Gonna Give You Up by British singer Rick Astley. Little did Astley know when he recorded this catchy tune that it would become one of the most enduring and iconic memes in internet history. With its upbeat rhythm, infectious melody, and Astley's smooth vocals, "Never Gonna Give You Up" 🎙️ captivated audiences around the world upon the release of his album Whenever You Need Somebody in 1987.

However, it wasn't until decades later, with the rise of online communities and social media, that the song would take on a life of its own as the Rick Roll meme. This meme, characterized by the unexpected redirection of internet users to the music video of "Never Gonna Give You Up" has become a staple prank and source of amusement across the digital landscape for digital trolls.

The First RickRolling: How did the meme start

The first RickRoll, widely regarded as the origin of this iconic internet prank, traces back to around 2006-2007.While pinpointing the absolute first instance is difficult due to the decentralised nature of internet culture, one notable early occurrence is believed to have taken place on the imageboard 4chan. The precise motivation behind the initial Rick Roll remains somewhat elusive, but it likely stemmed from a combination of mischief, irony, and the desire to surprise and confuse fellow internet users.

It seems to have started at the same time with the release of the new and anticipated GTA4 video game. One of the 4chan users Sean Cotter thought it would be funny (and it is) to link through posts and emails to this new gta4 trailer leak. But in fact it was an unexpected redirection to the music video of "Never Gonna Give You Up" One of the first acts of RickRolling. Internet History has been made on that beautiful day. In a Vice Documentary on the Rick Roll Sean explains that he chose this song because he was born in 1987, the same year the never gonna give you up song was first released. As simple as that.

4chan user Sean Cotter, the first guy to rickroll 4chan user Sean Cotter, One of the first to Rickroll

As the prank gained traction on 4chan and other online communities, it quickly became a viral meme, spreading like wildfire across forums, social media platforms, and email chains. People were getting rickrolled and loved rickrolling. What started as a simple bait-and-switch tactic / Internet troll soon evolved into a widespread internet phenomenon, spawning countless variations and adaptations.

The RickRoll Meme Now

The Rick Roll meme, despite originating over a decade ago, continues to maintain its relevance and popularity in contemporary internet culture. Beyond its origins as a simple prank on forums like 4chan, the meme has infiltrated various facets of society, including politics, advertising:

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Politicians Rickrolling

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Rickroll Beat Music