Internet meme sensation Rick Astley has rickrolled his way into the United States, live and in person. The British singer is promoting his brand-new comeback album 50, which topped the UK charts this June.
Many millennials and younger internet users only know Astley from the rickrolling phenomenon that has kept his name and music alive throughout his long retirement from the music business. In the 1980s however, Astley was a huge pop star in the United States and even more so in his native UK and throughout the world.
Astley topped the U.S. charts twice in 1987, once with the song that has now become synonymous with the rickrolling meme "Never Gonna Give You Up" and again with "Together Forever." He went on to achieve additional chart success in the United States and Europe with other releases, but his popularity was relatively short-lived, and he retired from the music business at the age of 27.
Rick Astley might have been just a footnote in the world of pop music if it hadn't been for the rickrolling meme that began as a prank on the notorious 4chan message board in 2008. The meme involves posting a supposed hyperlink to a highly desired internet location, which the user finds, upon clicking, only leads to the video of Astley singing the classic "Never Gonna Give You Up."
The practice of rickrolling has become one of the most popular and lasting memes of the internet generation, with one estimate in 2008 concluding that more than 18 million Americans had been rickrolled at one time or another, a number that has multiplied considerably as the years have passed. Last year we reported how ISIS was rickrolled by hacking group Anonymous, which infiltrated links and social media posts by the terrorist group and redirected interested users instead to Astley's clip.
Now, at age 50, Astley has made a huge comeback in the UK, where his recently released 50 album hit the No. 1 chart spot this June. The singer now has his sights set on comeback success in the United States as well, where he has recently arrived and performed two live shows in New York and Los Angeles, his first since 1989.
While many of Astley's live songs are tracks from his new album, set for October release in the United States, of course Astley does a rendition of his most famous song "Never Gonna Give You Up," which he announced at the shows has been very, very good to him - in large part thanks to the practice of rickrolling.