Page last updated at 17:14 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 18:14 UK

Rickrolling and the league of web fame

By Mark Savage
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Rick Astley
Never Gonna Give You Up reached number one in 1987

An estimated 13 million internet users have been tricked into watching the video for Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up in the last couple of weeks.

In one of those moments of mass online hysteria that record companies wish they could replicate at will, thousands of internet users have been sending out links to scurrilous videos and websites, which actually take you directly to a video of Astley's pop masterpiece.

"I think it's just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it," Astley told the Los Angeles Times last week.

"That's what's brilliant about the internet."

But the former teaboy is not the first person to become an unwitting victim of the internet's infinite interest in the inane.

Here are some other recent cultural phenomena that have captured people's imaginations, for good or for bad.


The video was filmed in one take after eight days' rehearsal

OK Go were a struggling power pop band when they released the video for Here It Goes Again in June 2006.

It only cost $5 (2.50) to make, and featured the four musicians surfing along four facing treadmills, passing under each other's arms and jogging on the spot - all while singing the song's catchy, guitar-laden hook.

Word about the quirky clip quickly spread around music blogs, and it now ranks as one of the most watched videos of all time on Youtube - with more than 32 million people stopping by to take a look.

And the band benefited from the success, too - they picked up a Grammy for best short form music video, and were asked to perform their synchronised steps live at the MTV Awards.


Beyonce asked fans not to post the video online

There is nothing the public cherishes more than seeing a superstar in an unplanned moment of vulnerability.

So, when Beyonce fell headfirst down a flight of stairs during a concert in Orlando last year, fans instantly started uploading their amateur videos of the incident to the internet.

In the shaky, low-quality clips, the R&B diva appears to step on her trench coat and plummet down eight steps.

Then, ever the professional, she gets straight back up and launches into her dance routine, to applause from the audience.

On YouTube, the comments range from the awestruck ("What a trooper", "She's still hot") to the mean-spirited ("I laughed so hard").


Jack Nicholson
What if The Shining was really a heartwarming comedy?

In 2005, a film-making body in New York issued a challenge to America's assistant film editors - take an existing movie trailer, and re-edit it in an entirely different genre.

The winner was 25-year-old Robert Ryang, who took Stanley Kubrick's psychological horror The Shining and turned it into a breezy romantic comedy, set to the tune of Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill.

Having won, he sent a couple of friends a link to a "secret area" on his company's website where they could watch the video.

One of them posted the link on his blog, and soon the video was being watched by more than 12,000 people a day.

Celebrity fans included Jack Black and Fight Club director David Fincher - and the clip has inspired a whole host of fake trailers on YouTube.

Other examples include Good Will Hunted, in which Matt Damon's character becomes the target of a government assassination plot, and Brokeback To The Future, which convincingly splices the gay cowboy movie with Michael J Fox's time-travel comedy.


Jacob Lodwick
Jacob Lodwick coined the term "lipdub"

YouTube and its competitors allow fans to emulate their musical heroes and let the world judge their performances - like a giant, untrammelled version of The X-Factor minus Simon Cowell.

But while YouTube is littered with kids in their bedroom miming to pre-recorded tracks - Gary Brolsma's Numa Numa Dance is a popular example - a group of office workers in New York went one better.

After finishing the day's business, they hooked up an iPod to a speaker and filmed the entire workforce performing Harvey Danger's Flagpole Sitta (the theme tune to Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show).

It comes across like a bizarre amateur version of Band Aid, with each member of staff taking a line or two of the song before everyone comes together for the final chorus.

"We really just threw it together quickly. It's the kind of thing anybody can do," said ringleader Jakob Lodwick - who founded video sharing website Vimeo.


Will Ferrell in The Landlord
The clips on Funny Or Die are frequently foul-mouthed

Best known for family-friendly, semi-improvised comedies like Anchorman, Elf and Blades of Glory, comedian Will Ferrell used to be part of the iconic Saturday Night Live team.

Hollywood doesn't allow him to indulge in his sketch comedy roots, so when he was approached by venture capital company Sequoia with the idea of setting up a website, he jumped at the idea.

Along with comedy writer Chris Henchy and former Saturday Night Live head writer Adam McKay, Ferrell creates exclusive web-only skits that provide a creative outlet that is often a test-bed for his film work.

The breakout clip is The Landlord, in which Ferrell is berated by a foul-mouthed toddler for failing to meet his rent payments.

His success has convinced the likes of Adam Sandler, Will Arnett and Judd Apatow to contribute their own videos.

(Warning: offensive language)

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