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Prank gives song new life

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Posted: Monday, March 31, 2008 12:00 am

Rick Astley's never going to give you up and your friends are never going to leave you alone.

Thanks to Internet pranksters, people can punch a phone number into a website or post links online that expose unsuspecting victims to blarring verses of Astley's 1980s number one hit, "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Students have taken to the phenomenon, dubbed "rickrolling," and use it to harass friends online and over the phone.

It began with Internet forum users posting seemingly relevant links, usually in the middle of a message board discussion, leading unsuspecting readers to a video of Astley professing his loyalty to his woman by way of song and extravagant dance.

"I didn't know what to do so I just watched it, from start to finish," said freshman government and politics major Arnell Limberry. "I hate Rick Astley but I thought something was going to happen at the end."

The trend has since spread to phones through prank call websites, but regardless, the entire goal of rickrolling has remained the same: set up high expectation for important information - the clincher of an argument, a video game trailer, an important phone call - and let Rick Astley dash them.

"I want to know that [my victims] are just as disappointed as I was," Limberry said.

But some students said the trend is beginning to get out of hand. The website that sends out rickroll phone calls has shut down several times in recent days. And with so many links leading to unexpected places, junior music and psychology major Greg Cox said he isn't taking any chances.

"I try to protect myself on the Internet," said Cox. "Now, I never click on a link before I know where it's going."

As for the inspiration for the craze, Astley, who still tours, told the Los Angeles Times the fad didn't bother him .

"Listen, I just think it's bizarre and funny," he told the newspaper. "My main consideration is that my daughter doesn't get embarrassed about it."

Although rickrolling's long-term popularity is uncertain, sophomore computer science major Steve O'Brien said he hopes to keep it alive.

"I want this to be something I can play on my grandkids," O'Brien said.

jasleimandbk@gmail.com, penndbk@gmail.com

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