Back in the ’80s, Rick Astley scored a string of synth-backed R&B hits. Including “Together Forever” … and another little number which, decades later, earned an unlikely second life as the internet prank called “rickrolling.” For the uninitiated, the idea is you send someone a generic link, telling them it points to something amazing or shocking, but when the user clicks — OMG you guys, AN ADORBS BABY PANDA!
That’s a rickroll.
It’s been about a decade since the meme first appeared, so we thought it might be high time for a replacement. And Rick, who just released a new album called “50,” stopped by our studios with some suggestions.
“If I could change the rickrolling thing — not that I want to, but if I could — and if I could come up with some other things, these are my choices,” Astley explained. “This is what I would rickroll you with now.”
Ron Burgundy’s flute solo
First of all, I’m going to go for what I think is possibly the funniest scene in a movie ever: the scene from “Anchorman” where he plays the flute.
It’s Will Ferrell, he’s gone to the jazz club, and he’s kind of asked, does he want to get up with the band and play? And he whips out his flute from his sleeve, like a magician. And then he kind of flubs it at the beginning, and you think, “OK, so he can’t actually play.” And then, he just erupts.
The funniest thing in all of it for me, is just how amazing the flute solo actually is. I don’t know who played the solo, because I’m pretty sure Will didn’t do it, but it’s unbelievable. And, obviously, he studied that solo really well, because he does all the mannerisms and everything that you need to do to kind of make it look convincing.
Musician friends and I, we’ve kind of howled with laughter over that whole scene. It’s just a great moment in film history, I think.
Bill Withers — “Lovely Day”
My second one to rickroll people with… I would choose an absolute classic song. Which, to be honest, I don’t want to ruin by rickrolling, but it just puts me in a good mood whenever I hear it. It’s Bill Withers, “Lovely Day.”
Bill Withers is, for me, one of the most amazing artists that’s ever lived. You could go from an age group of almost a toddler to somebody in their 80s or 90s, and play them half of dozen of his songs, and they would instantly know them. But if you tried to pick him out in the street, I don’t think most people could do it. And I think that is incredible.
That is a dream situation; that his music speaks for him. To some degree, I’ve had a bit of that, as well. For the last 10 years, I’ve been doing gigs again and playing sometimes on huge stages… a field full of 20,000 people… and yet, when I’m putting gas in the car on the way home, I could be jumping up and down on the bonnet of the car and singing “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and people don’t bat an eyelid.
I really do appreciate it, for sure, because you get to do what you love to do for an audience, but no one’s going to bug you when you’re buying your cornflakes.
“My name is Maximus” scene from “Gladiator”
OK, then. My third pick to rickroll you with is “Gladiator.” I love a sword and sandals movie.
This scene when he takes off his helmet, he’s in the arena, and the emperor’s come down because he wants to meet this guy. And he pulls off his helmet, and he says “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius… Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”
I’m married, happily married. I’m a heterosexual man. But I’ll tell you what, if I was another way inclined — I mean, come on.
The rickroll that we have at the moment is quite light — nothing wrong with it, but it’s quite light. So, maybe to have like, a dark and heavy kind of: “I’ll have my revenge in this life or the next.”
Manchester United’s impossible victory
If I had my one last choice to rickroll people with, I think I would choose the last moments of a football game — “soccer” game, as you guys say. Manchester United, which is my team, against Bayern Munich, going back some years now in the Champions League final.
Bayern Munich’s scored first, and they scored early. So, I was on my feet from that moment, thinking, “We’re not going to win this. We’re not going to win this.” And then, Sir Alex Ferguson, who is actually, for me, the best coach in the world, he brought on two substitutes. And, literally, in the last moments of the game…
I was literally wetting myself in our basement. I could… I was — well, I’m almost doing it now — I was just speechless. I could very easily be rickrolled by that clip anytime.
Rick Astley — “Angels on My Side”
I know this is a bit cheeky, but I’m going to do it, anyway: It’d be nice to have one of my new songs to be used as the rickroll, to be honest. A song called “Angels On My Side.”
It’s about all the people who’ve been there for me: my older brothers and my sister, my band… it’s kind of for them. So, maybe we could make this the new rickroll. We’ll see.