This week in awesomeness: 20 years ago, we all got Rickrolled

This week in 1988, Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Twenty years later, it's become a ubiquitous Internet prank.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

Two decades ago this week--on March 12, 1988--the corny pop song "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

What does this have to do with the Internet? Oh, just about everything.

For those of you who actually have lives and don't pay attention to the latest iteration of goofy Internet phenomena (think "all your base are belong to us," "the Internet is a series of tubes," or lolcats), Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" is the Web equivalent of the old, "Is your refrigerator running?" prank call.

The gag known as "Rickrolling" consists of sending someone a link that purports to be something good, only to have it direct that person to the cheesy video for the '80s pop song.

If it sounds pointless and stupid, that's because it is. The practice is believed to have started in the 4chan (warning: content may not be safe for work) online forums, the same den of virtual infamy that allegedly brought forth lolcats as well as a good portion of the anti-Scientology hacker activity that went on earlier this year.

On Wednesday, avid members of the Digg community celebrated the song's 20th anniversary of hitting the top spot on Billboard with an extensive comment thread of the song's cringeworthy lyrics.

But there are far simpler ways to celebrate. Just go ahead and trick someone into watching that video. Everyone's pumped about the presence of the Speed Racer and Incredible Hulk trailers on the Web--use that to your advantage!