Friday, March 18th, 2011

Since You Asked: What Is A "Rebecca Black"?

On Fridays, we take requests. A reader writes: "It's sad that I rely on your blog so much in order to have relevant things to say in conversations about recent viral videos. And I understand—one day is pretty quick to come up with something to say about this amazing tome of teen angst that picked up seven million views yesterday. But come on."

Well, that email was from 30 hours ago, and now it has 16 million views on YouTube. So here is what we know. 13-year-old amateur Rebecca Black's song "Friday," which was a song purchased and recorded for two grand from a vanity label, is about how the week sucks. It's a celebration of the end of school and work, and indoctrination to a future nation of low-paid worker-slaves. That's reasonable! Its intended audience will "get down on Fridays," as she sings, until we repeal the eight-hour work-day and the five-day work-week. Oh wait, Walmart already did! So she's right on time.

More things to know:

The lyrics are just as insipid as any of the recent work by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. (I would add Madonna to that list!)

• It's giving us a good look at Internet scorn. Which she's taking in great stride, suggesting that perhaps it's not acceptable for strangers to be telling her to go kill herself.

• It's also a terrible moment for aspiring young people, who will get their parents to sink money into vanity projects that won't get 16 million hits on YouTube.

• She's also quickly becoming a brand. And guess what? She's going to be sticking around. It's an axiom of the attention economy that negative attention is also fame-creating!

• That damn song is horribly catchy. Listen if you dare.

Do you have a question for Fridays? You can always hit us up at notes at theawl dot com.

38 Comments / Post A Comment

Apparently Tyler from Odd Future just found out who she was, too, probably during a sxsw 3 AM epiphany:
"Who is This Rebecca Black Bitch?"
"HAHAHAHA This Friday Video is Fucking Great. I'm Making This My Ringtone lmfao!!!"
Can't wait for that track. You know he's crazy enough to try it.

roboloki (#1,724)

bieber/black 2034

keisertroll (#1,117)

Amerada would be proud to have them as Presminister and Governor Genervicepresident.

BadUncle (#153)

"Catchy" is an understatement. I would gladly pay my colleagues to stop singing it "ironically."

keisertroll (#1,117)

The way you put the word "Catchy" in quotation marks makes me want Choire to create a zombie version of it.

keisertroll (#1,117)

WPRB played this song the other night, thus validating the sixth day of the week for the entire hipster elite.

theheckle (#621)

Odd. As one who usually finds teen drivel catchy, I found this completely uncatchy. Ke$ha (or her writers) is freaking Shakespeare in comparison.

extracrispy (#10,544)

rebecca black and chet haze: your 2011 pop sensations, everybody

Natzzzzzz (#7,318)

I'm still tryna figure out what Ray Lewis is doing in the video.

keisertroll (#1,117)

Well, she DOES look a little like Joe Flacco.

KarenUhOh (#19)

We need to put more 13 year-olds behind the wheel of a car.

And let them drive the highways aimlessly on a Friday instead of going to school.

sox (#652)

Somehow I think I could feel better about this if she wrote the song and she and a bunch of her friends made the video with their cameras and some program on their mac. Then I would just think she was adorable maybe? But the fact that adults are behind this just makes me sad for her. I totally agree with Cord though – it is a song by a kid for a kid, and we aren't calling out so many other lyrics by actual adults. I mean have you listened to top 40 pop radio lately?

sox (#652)

Holy shiz that makes no sense. COFFEE HELP ME PLEASE.

It has taken a century for the popular song to reach its essence, the authoritarian intonation of "fun, fun, fun, fun" that is anything but, the imperative that the work week be left behind, not because it is any more physically or intellectually exhausting that the weekend but simply because it was. "Yesterday was Thursday," surely, and "Tomorrow will be Saturday," of course. The history of popular music has been nothing more than a war against history itself. Rebecca Black has won.

"The amplification of the eternal present is the technology of desire" – Patty Donahue

A friend sent me this a few day ago. I didn't realize it was some kid doing some amateur production. I thought it was just the next big thing. I've never heard Miley Cyrus or Keisha or Odd Wolf Gang or Martin Bieber so as far as I knew this was already as popular and professional as them. She could've already been around for years. She belongs.

dikwad (#2,308)

It's Martin Buber, and he rocks.

MichelleDean (#7,041)

It's only a few days until Pomplamoose does a cover.

That said I am not sure these lyrics are worse than some of Arcade Fire's.

deepomega (#1,720)

She just needs like ten more white people to stand around her, holding instruments, not making eye contact.

MollyBloomberg (#1,169)

No. One hundred thousand times no.

LondonLee (#922)

GMA did a piece about this today under the headline 'Worst Video Ever?' which made me think these people have never seen a pop video before. Am I missing something here? It seems like perfectly ordinary (and not all that bad) teen pop to me.

Tulletilsynet (#333)

You've got what Whitman called "the surly English pluck." Nerves of steel. Auditory nerves of steel.

paperbackwriter (#2,844)

All I'm saying is don't smile as you're singing. It's confusing to look at, like salsa dancing while you're crying.

Slava (#216)

When will the "AutoTune the News" guys make a viral AutoTuned version of this video?!?

If you take the same lyrics and put them to a lightly strummed acoustic guitar and scratchy production values, voila, instant ode to the Everyman's need to reconcile the drudgeries of the week as imposed by a crypto-fascistic military-indutrial complex with a little "party and party and yeah".

Actually, this version kind of renders the import of the lyrics on a par with a heckuva of a lot of the rest of the Dylan catalogue. IMHO.

zorica (#4,135)

It's crap, but it's a video that I would have no problem letting a seven-year old girl I care about watch over and over again while she hops around the living room and "makes up a dance." It's shockingly low on female physical insecurity triggers. Some of the girls have braces, the kids are "having fun" and yet there's no glitter or cleavage! Not that there's anything wrong with glitter or cleavage, but it gets tiring after awhile, keeping awareness high that there's more to women — even women in music and the performing arts — than boobs and butts. "Fun fun fun fun" is a fine alternative to "noddin my head like yeah moving my hips like yeah" and the part where she describes the order of the days of the week sounds comfortingly like Sesame Street. The would-be mommy in me is sold, especially since this past Sunday I spent a really uncomfortable afternoon "explaining" what Rihanna means by "sex in the air" and then helping come up with some dance moves that "go along."

When I clicked on "The Connotative Semiotics of 'Friday'," I was hoping for a discussion about the gender and employer-authoritarian structures referenced when Big Worm says that Smokey is "playing with his emotions" by not selling all that weed.

Am I really the only person who can't get past the first 3 seconds of this? (Honestly, I've tried 4 times. "And that's when I clicked 'close tab'" each time.)

So, that Watson computer from Jeopardy! is writing teen pop songs now?

And apparently singing them as well?

Tulletilsynet (#333)

I was able to watch this calmly right to the end. My children were not.

dikwad (#2,308)

The Bob Dylan cover of the song is better.

Yeah, it's fuckin awful, but not as bad as most bands booked on SNL.

This is my favorite version, it has an ethereal, Mystere des Voix Bulgares quality about it:
Now you know it too.

And this one is just cute as a fucking button:

Bittersweet (#765)

@Butterscotch – adorable! Someone give her a record deal.

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