The big picture: Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” has joined the coveted Billion View Club on YouTube. That's no easy feat considering that as of last November, only 16 videos had exceeded the one billion views mark. Remarkably, the gag has only gotten more popular in recent years with the rise of video calling brought about by the pandemic.
The first video to garner more than a billion views was Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” doing so in December 2012. It’d be another two-and-a-half years before another video, Justin Bieber’s “Baby,” joined the club.
“Never Gonna Give You Up” was the debut single off Astley’s 1987 album Whenever You Need Somebody and was popular for a brief period before slipping into obscurity. Then in the mid-2000s, the song fell back into popularity thanks to a bait-and-switch meme that originated on 4chan and became known as Rickrolling. It has remained a part of pop culture ever since.
It’s worth clarifying that the video in question (the one with over a billion views) was uploaded to Astley’s official YouTube channel in late 2009. If you were to tally all of the other instances of the video on YouTube and elsewhere, the total would no doubt be much higher.