'Rick Rolling' Ruins Mets Vote

Internet gag sends people to a video of Rick Astley's 80s song.


April 11, 2008 — -- Have you been Rick Rolled yet?

If you have, you join the ranks of as many as 9 million people who have been hit by this Internet phenomenon, in which unsuspecting Web surfers get tricked into watching one-hit-wonder Rick Astley's one hit, "Never Gonna Give You Up."

The average Rick Rolling victim is duped by a friend (or enemy, depending on your aversion to catchy 80s tunes) who sends him or her a link to the song under the guise of something relevant — the latest Lindsay Lohan video, or General Petreaus' recent testimony. What comes up instead is a link to the Astley video, spandex-wearing backup dancers included.

The latest target? The New York Mets.

When the Mets decided to pick a new theme song to be played during the 8th inning of their games, the team's marketing department decided to let fans vote for their favorite tune.

And while choices included classics like Jon Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" and Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," it was Astley's song that racked in the most votes.

Millions, in fact.

"Rick Astley's song was voted No. 1," said Jay Horowitz, a spokesperson for the Mets. "There were over five million votes for the song."

Nobody is quite sure who started the Rick Rolling trend, but the movement grew after April Fool's Day, when YouTube.com disguised links on their homepage to direct viewers to the video.

In the vote for a Mets theme song, YouTube, along with sites like Fark.com and Digg.com, drew attention to fans who then flooded the Mets' Web sites with votes.

Even so, Horowitz advises fans not to get too excited that the corny tune from the 80s will be the team's new song. The final decision will be made not only on the number of votes but also on audience reaction when the contenders are played at the team's first few home games.

"If you're betting, I wouldn't bet on Astley," said Horowitz, who added that he found Rick Rolling to be "very funny … The song wasn't well received, people booed."

"It wasn't a good day for Rick," said Horowitz. Nor for the Mets: It was Opening Day.

Rick Astley was unavailable to comment directly to ABCNEWS.com about the success of his now 20-year-old hit single, but he told the Los Angeles Times in March that he found the whole thing to be "a bit spooky."

"I think it's just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it," Astley told the paper, adding that even he thought the song was a bit "naff," or cheesy. "But that's what's brilliant about the Internet."

And run with it people did. The video on YouTube has more than nine million page views, and Internet gurus say it's the most popular viral video they can remember.

"[The Astley video] is a perfect example of a viral video because the definition of one is something that gets out and is uncontrollable," said David Griner, who blogs for Adfreak.com, a pop culture blog launched by AdWeek Magazine in 2004. "Even if you're the one that created it, you can't control it."

"And by that definition Rick Rolling may go down as the most successful viral to date," said Griner. "It's self-perpetuated. Once you've been Rick Rolled, you want to do it to other people."

The anti-Scientology group Anonymous has taken to singing the song during demonstrations, and according to The New York Times, two Astley wannabes interrupted a recent basketball game at Eastern Washington University.

Griner has only Rick Rolled a handful of people (so he says) and has noticed some backlash as of late.

"My friends won't click on the links I send them," said Griner.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events