Forget Rick Astley, Gen Z Has a New Way to “Rick Roll”

Katie Garrity - Author

Jun. 18 2020, Updated 9:41 p.m. ET

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Source: YouTube

By this point, everyone and their mother has been a victim of the infamous “Rick Roll” — the music-based bait-and-switch. The “Rick Roll” is a classic trick, drawing people to click on a link that says it's one thing and then unexpectedly leads to Rick Astley's music video for the '80s hit, "Never Gonna Give You Up". 

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Generation Z, the generation that claims the social media app, TikTok, as their own has taken the concept of the “Rick Roll” and changed it up a bit. In the latest meme, instead of "Never Gonna Give You Up" it's the 2009 summer hit “Replay” by Iyaz that has been trapping people the way Rick Astley did ten years ago.

The concept is very reminiscent of the traditional “Rick Roll”.

Instead of directing people to a link that one would click out of curiosity, the "Replay" bait-and-switch trend isn't concentrated to a single point in the song. Instead, TikTok users begin the trick with some sort of unique concept or issue before leading into the sound itself.

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While it’s unclear when the meme began, early uses of the Iyaz sound with the #shawty tag on TikTok date back to at least late April 2020, although there are other instances of the song making an appearance in TikToks prior to that. 

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Over the course of May and early June 2020, however, the song became a popular meme, to the extent where if you’re scrolling your “For You” page, chances are you’ve heard the tune.

The formula for the TikTok joke is all about sounds.

When it comes to this meme, the generic formula for making it work is a TikTok user will take an object, like a musical instrument, that makes a certain sound when used in a certain way, but when used differently, "Replay" begins to play instead, much to the frustration of the user.

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The "Replay" meme has also taken form in another way, which features TikTokers creating tangible Spotify Codes by embroidering them on fabric, printing them and creating temporary tattoos, or 3D printing them, among other methods. These users are really going above and beyond to make this meme continue.

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The “Rick Roll” and “Replay” Memes are very similar.

One TikToker highlighted just how similar these two trends are. One TikTok user made a video showing the similarities between the songs by pretending to claim that "Never Gonna Give You Up" had reached approximately 420 million views and 6.9 million likes (the most popular upload of the video actually currently stands at around 705 million views and 5.6 million likes) before cutting to "Replay". 

The two songs also have a similar pattern generationally. “Replay” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on Jan. 9, 2010, but didn’t become a popular meme until ten years later. The 1987 "Never Gonna Give You Up" was about 20 years old when it exploded on the internet. 

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