What If Rickrolling Is Just Karmic Retribution For Rick Astley Not Getting To Celebrate His One Major Award?


In 1987, Rick Astley was a baby-faced 21-year-old with an unexpectedly deep baritone who was having a really stellar year. Not too long before, he’d been a teenage drummer on the club circuit who was scouted as a singer by the up-and-coming songwriting and production team of Stock Aitken Waterman (who were responsible for the recent hits "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)" and "Venus"). Astley's new studio groomed him to be a star, and his first solo single, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” was an instant success.

Released in August, the song immediately dominated five weeks on the UK charts. It quickly spread, becoming a global number one hit in 25 countries, and eventually topping four U.S. Billboard charts. By year's end, it was named the best-selling British single of the year.

And yet, when awards season rolled around, only Astley's native Great Britain took notice. Though the song was a hit and its album, Whenever You Need Someone, eventually went double-platinum in the States, Astley was shut out of the Grammys. But at the Brit Awards, the singer was nominated for Best British Male Artist, Best British Newcomer, and Best British Single.

On February 8, 1988, just two days after Astley’s 22nd birthday, he won the only major award of his career: Best British Single, for what would become his signature song. Astley had been seated in a box at the Royal Albert Hall, though, rather than at one of the tables on the floor. And, as televised awards shows are wont to do, the show was in danger of running over time. With The Who scheduled to close out the show—it had been a significant feat to get them to perform together for just the second time in six years—former BPI chairman Rob Dickins decided to storm the stage to save time.

“I said we had to cut the last award to get The Who on stage,” Dickins recalled last year. “The producers and [the host] Noel Edmonds said no … and I flipped.” In footage from the night, you can see Dickins nervously stepping around the side of the stage, wanting to rush the presentation to make way for The Who, while Edmonds begins introducing the category. While the prerecorded footage of the five Best Single nominees rolled, Dickins made it clear that they would not be making time for the winner to come to the stage. Edmonds got the hint, and after announcing Astley’s win, immediately called Dickins to the podium.

“I went on stage, as the clock was ticking towards the news, and said: ‘The winner is Rick Astley. I am accepting on his behalf. Please welcome The Who,’” Dickins recalled. “I don’t think Rick has ever forgiven me.”

“Poor Rick Astley never got to collect his award for best single, and ended up in tears,” host Noel Edmonds later said.

Poor Rick Astley indeed. He continued to release new material and still makes appearances at festivals and fundraisers, and though his next nine singles all hit the UK Top 10, he largely fell from the mainstream in the U.S. after his single "Together Forever" topped the U.S. charts in the summer of '88. That is, until 2007, when a 4chan user created everyone's favorite Internet prank: Rickrolling. By 2008, the meme had gone viral, and suddenly any important story or video you thought you were going to see was suddenly hyperlinked to the very '80s video featuring Astley's rich vocals and sweet dance moves.

"It’s funny," Astley told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. "It makes me laugh—I’m sure it really annoys a lot of other people—but it’s made me laugh occasionally."

And perhaps it's for the best that Astley is getting his last laugh now. Because even if his one big award show moment was stolen from him, at least he's living on in Internet infamy, and, in a sense, stealing the spotlight from … Who knows?

Big Questions
What Could the Repeal of Net Neutrality Mean for Internet Users?

What could the repeal of net neutrality mean for the average American internet user?

Zouhair Belkoura:

The imminent repeal of net neutrality could have implications for Americans beyond the Internet’s stratification, increased costs to consumers, and hindered access to content for all. Net neutrality’s repeal is a threat to the Internet’s democracy—the greatest information equalizer of our time.

With net neutrality’s repeal, ISPs could be selective about the content and pricing packages they make available. Portugal is a good example of what a country looks like without net neutrality

What people may not realize is that a repeal of net neutrality would also give ISPs the ability to throttle people’s Internet traffic. Customers won’t likely have visibility into what traffic is being throttled, and it could substantially slow down people’s Internet connections.

What happens when this type of friction is introduced to the system? The Internet—the greatest collective trove of information in the world—could gradually be starved. People who experience slower Internet speeds may get frustrated and stop seeking out their favorite sites. People may also lose the ability to make choices about the content they want to see and the knowledge they seek.

Inflated pricing, less access to knowledge, and slower connections aren’t the only impact a net neutrality repeal might have. People’s personal privacy and corporations’ security may suffer, too. Many people use virtual private networks to protect their privacy. VPNs keep people’s Internet browsing activities invisible to their ISPs and others who may track them. They also help them obscure their location and encrypt online transactions to keep personal data secure. When people have the privacy that VPNs afford, they can access information freely without worrying about being watched, judged, or having their browsing activity bought and sold by third-party advertisers.

Virtual private networks are also a vital tool for businesses that want to keep their company data private and secure. Employees are often required by their employers to connect to a VPN whenever they are offsite and working remotely.

Even the best VPNs can slow down individuals' Internet connections, because they create an encrypted tunnel to protect and secure personal data. If people want to protect their personal privacy or company’s security with a VPN [they] also must contend with ISP throttling; it’s conceivable that net neutrality’s repeal could undermine people’s freedom to protect their online safety. It could also render the protection a VPN offers to individuals and companies obsolete.

Speed has always been a defining characteristic of the Internet’s accessibility and its power. Net neutrality’s repeal promises to subvert this trait. It would compromise both people's and companies’ ability to secure their personal data and keep their browsing and purchasing activities private. When people don’t have privacy, they can’t feel safe. When they don’t feel safe, they can’t live freely. That’s not a world anyone, let alone Americans, want to live in.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]


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