Rickrolling is the Web 2.0 equivalent of the old bait-and-switch: Promise footage of Madonna covering Sonic Youth on your tragically hip music site, but instead deliver video of Rick Astley’s debut single, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” You’ve been rickrolled! The meme is apparently giving way to its bastard step-child “buttrolling,” in which the unsuspected viewer is unwittingly lured into watching Samwell’s astonishingly frank party invitation What What In the Butt (Ha Ha! Made you click!)
But where Samwell hits you over the head (with his prodigious butt, presumably), Santeri Ojala, aka YouTube trickster StSanders took rickrolling to a whole ‘nuther level when he started over-dubbing video of guitar gods Yngwie Malmsteen, Eric Clapton, Steve Vai and Eddie van Halen with his own obviously skilled but painfully bad guitar solos.
Yngwie, corpulent in skin-tight leather, riding the coattails of symphonic elegance, sounds like an air guitar hero from your junior high lunch line (don’t think back – it hurts too bad):
Eric Clapton shreds too… jazz-styley:
By now, you’re probably reminiscing about Leonard Pinth-Garnell (aka Dan Aykroyd) in SNL’s classic “Bad Playhouse” sketches, and how it takes a prodigy to do bad this good. The reward for this kind of genius? YouTube pulled StSander’s initial set of clips from the site after receiving (count ’em!) three complaints of copyright infringement. I have a sneaking suspicion the record company cigar chompers were more concerned about image than infringement. Parody isn’t bad for business – it’s bad for the self-serious.
Already we’re seeing spin-offs. It’s one thing to watch Eric Clapton’s face and fingers scrambling after bad college-level jazz, but what do you do with real jazz? Check the great Oscar Peterson quartet ripped to shreds by an equally talented pianist calling himself Tibenham:
Not sure whether this is an individual taking a wrecking ball to all four instruments or a whole pack of parodists going at it all at once, but the effect is splendid.
In case YouTube gets squeamish again and bows in deference to the mellow-harshers, get behind the scenes and watch StSanders in action at Wired.