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Rickrolled: Or How One Politician Overcame Partisan Divide To Pull A Prank

Yesterday, Korva pointed to an amusing video of lawmakers Rickrolling the Oregon State House. For the uninitiated, to Rickroll someone is to unexpectedly slip in Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. (Morning Edition spoke to Astley back in February.)

So what Oregon lawmakers did was include snippets of the song's lyrics into their speeches on the House floor and then stich it together to make the tune. This is the final product:

On tonight's edition of All Things Considered, NPR's Melissa Block speaks to Jefferson Smith, the Democrat in the Oregon State House, who thought up the idea.

First, he told Melissa, it's important to remember that this took real effort from many people, especially aides, to make this happen. Incredibly, he said, it didn't take much prodding to get other lawmakers to agree to do their part. What took effort was getting in some of the lyrics.

"The easy lines we did at the beginning," said Smith. "The harder ones we left toward the end."

"Your heart's been aching / but you're too shy to say it" were two lines that were particularly hard to get into speeches, especially considering that the rules of the game mandated that the lawmaker on the floor could not ask for extra time and had to work in the phrase assigned to them in a way that was germaine to what they were talking about.

Smith said when one of the lawmakers delivered the line "O, never gonna give you up," some people on the floor laughed. "But it was really funny to the people who were in on the joke," he said "Some of it was trying to muffle our laughter and keep focused on the work at hand, when someone would slip in their line."

The video was released April 1, as an April Fool's joke, but it's only in recent days that it's picked up steam. The prank was also a bipartisan effort.

"It's silly fun," said Smith and the reason it's gone viral is because "it's a mild break from much of what we're seeing in national politics."

But does something like change anything in politics? Smith said that if politicians are able to come together on some fun and on some issues, it could.

In the least, he said, "we can make sure that when we're disagreeing, we're not just being disagreeable."

An aside: Back in 2008, NPR was accused of Rickrolling its entire Morning Edition audience.

Tune into to your local NPR member station to listen to the full interview. We'll add the as-broadcast version of the interview a little later today.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.