Rick Astley had an unlikely second act.
The ’80s singer regained fame at the start of the new millennium after the internet craze known as “Rickrolling” made him a viral star. The online phenomenon is known as the bait-and-switch farce in which a promised link on a website turns out to be the music video for her 1987 song “Never Gonna Give You Up”. At first, the 55-year-old was annoyed. But then his daughter helped him realize it was cool. And now he will never stop enjoying the beloved piece.
In time for 2022, Astley partnered with Frito-Lay for the brand’s “New Year New You” campaign that celebrates the single. The festivities, which kicked off on digital media platforms over Christmas, also include an opportunity for 18 people to win $ 1,000 each. Additionally, there’s also a “RickTok” challenge on TikTok where fans can duet with Astley himself.
Astley spoke to Fox News about the first time he heard of “Rickrolling”, how he feels about “Never Gonna Give You Up” today, and the most unique encounter he has ever had. never had with a fan.
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Fox News: You’re helping to start a TikTok challenge this year. What was it like connecting with younger listeners there?
Rick Astley: It’s a bit crazy for someone my age. When I released that song, “Never Gonna Give You Up” in ’87, the internet was just a crazy, futuristic dream. So it’s kinda weird that we’ve come all this way and now all of a sudden you can stream something to millions of people just using your phone and everyone can have fun with it and participate. This is one of those situations where, as you get older, you realize you need to go with the flow a little bit more. When I started, the record companies and the big companies had a lot more control over everything. Whereas today it’s much more in the hands of the public, which is probably terrifying to some * laughs *.
But it was a lot of fun. And it certainly sparked a lot of good ideas. Especially with something like TikTok, things can explode that no one can predict, which is probably terrifying for record labels and large corporations. I think it’s joy… I am careful sometimes not to try too hard to be with the children. But at the same time, if you don’t have an eye open to what the rest of the world is doing, suddenly you can’t see. So I think it’s important too. But it was really fun. This makes me laugh.
Fox News: What was your first reaction when you were “Rickrolled” for the very first time?
Astley: A friend of mine “Rickrolled” to me before I even knew what it was. He must have done it several times because I didn’t know what he was doing. I’m just like, “Why is he sending this to me?” And my video suddenly appears. So I kept asking myself, “What is he doing?” I remember I was on vacation [with my family] in Italy at the time. I was totally relaxed and kept telling myself, “I don’t need this in my life right now.” I know the video, I have seen it several times. So in the end, we had a real phone conversation. We went the old way and he explained it to me. He lives in California and also works in music. And he works with a lot of guys who are younger than him. So of course, they are always on top of everything.
So these guys were very interested in “Rickrolling”. But I just thought it was really weird. You know, this is a friend of mine who lives on another continent and sends me a video that then fits into my song. It was really weird and it was hard for me to understand at first. Let’s face it, this video is a long time ago. I look like I’m 11 and wearing my dad’s overcoat. I just didn’t understand at first.
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Fox News: Have you “Rickrollé” anyone since?
Astley: I professionally “Rickrollé” people on several occasions * laughs *. I went to Macy’s “Rickroll” Thanksgiving parade which was amazing. And it’s been in so many movies and TV shows at this point. People all over the world know this. It’s not just American stuff anymore, even if it’s very American.
But I remember being asked if I wanted “Rickroll” a children’s TV show that had a float circulating in the parade. At first I thought, “I don’t know if I really want to do this. Should I do this? I called a few friends in America and without exception each one of them said to me, “If you don’t do this then you are an idiot. So I said “good”. Then we came to New York and – that was a long time ago… But it was such a surreal moment. Millions of people greet you. It was pretty crazy. So I guess that’s probably the biggest I’ve done.
Fox News: Why do you think the song “Never Gonna Give You Up” continues to resonate with listeners decades later?
Astley: I would have liked to know, because then I could be a consultant on these issues. I think if there was a magic bullet, artists, writers, and producers would do it over and over again.
But I think he has a really good melody. The intro is instantly recognizable because it has that early 80s drum thing to it. The strings and arrangements are a bit like old-school soul in the way they work together. And I just think it ticks a lot of the boxes in terms of being a memorable song. And it’s really, really hard to forget. And to be honest, I’m probably the worst person to ask this question because this song is now in my DNA. I have sung it so many times. I still sing it now of course, otherwise I would be kicked out of the building at the end of a gig if I didn’t sing it * laughs *.
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It gave me the life I have. He gave me everything. I still travel the world because of it. I’m coming to America next year for gigs and stuff because of that. I can not complain. Because at one point I stopped singing for quite a long time. I just wanted total privacy. And then I did it again about 15 years ago. And people still love the song. The first time I sang this song was in Tokyo. The people there still love him. It brings back wonderful memories. Very often my wife and I enjoy a nice glass of wine at the end of the evening in a beautiful and maybe even strange place in the world. And we say thank goodness for that song and what followed because it was a game-changer. It has totally changed our lives. And he continues to do so.
Fox News: What’s the funniest or most unique encounter you’ve ever had with a fan?
Astley: Oh man, I don’t even know what to tell you * laughs *. Some people actually have full face tattoos and everything on their body. It always stops me in my tracks and makes me swallow. I almost want to apologize * laughs *. It always makes me feel full of emotion.
I also remember this woman saying she was going to do it after I signed part of her anatomy. The next time I saw her she had a tattoo. It was the signature and the face. I was like, “Is this real? Is this serious?” It’s forever, you know. It leaves me speechless. It’s not like “Hey, I named my son after you” or “That was our wedding song”. It’s “Check out this epic tattoo”. It is dedication.
Fox News: Looks like people are never going to give up on you.
Astley: * Laughs * Sure.
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Fox News: This partnership with Frito-Lay is about never giving up on the things you love. What’s the one thing you’ll never give up in 2022 and why?
Astley: I already have an answer made for that, and it’s dessert. We have a child, she doesn’t live with us. She is 29 years old and lives in Denmark, where my wife is from. Danes have a sweet tooth, sure, but I think in general they like salty things a lot more, like salty licorice. I’ve got a taste for it now, but I’m a bit more old school.
I love the chocolate cake. Now, I’m not saying every day of the week, but it’s quite nice to enjoy. If we go to a cool place to eat, that’s what I’m looking for. My eye goes straight to the bottom of the menu all the time for desserts. My wife likes to be healthier and trust me, I am making an effort to be healthier. I am 55 years old, I have to do it. But if you don’t have fun waiting, life is going to get extremely boring. So everything in moderation. So for me, it’s dessert. I really don’t understand how people skip dessert completely when they go out. It’s just not for me.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.