With $4,000, the help of her mother, and production company ARK Music Factory, Rabecca Black went from every day Southern California teenager to nationwide and soon-to-be world-wide infamy.
The beginning of her story has been experienced countless times before. Kid with an average voice wants to make a record. Kid’s mom pays company to write and produce song for kid. Kid releases song. Friends and family get excited. Song goes nowhere. Kid finishes high school, then college, and then moves on with her normal life.
Well every so often, the stars and planets align just so to bring us a tasty mixture that tips the scale…in a big way. Rabecca Black was presented a choice of two songs. She turned down the one about adult love because she didn’t want to venture into unfamiliar lyrical territory, in terms of her life experience.
Instead she chose “Friday”. “I felt like it was my personality in that song”, claimed Black. Well that personality (or some may argue lack thereof), combined with an auto-tuned nasally voice, lyrics beyond banality, and most importantly—SOCIAL MEDIA— were all elements that made the official video for “Friday” a viral sensation…or is it laceration? Here is a sample of the lyrics alone:
Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today i-is Friday, Friday (Partyin’)
We-we-we so excited
Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes after … wards
I don’t want this weekend to end
Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?
From the date it was released, March 14, 2011, to March 20, 2011, the official video for “Friday” has garnered 144.5 million views, and 2.8 million “dislikes” (86% of total ratings) from YouTube users.
I’m not sure what the record is in terms of dislikes but this has got to be near the top. Hurtful, negative comments mounted and some included death threats. Comments have since been disabled. Since its release:
- Tosh.O blogs “Songwriting isn’t for Everyone”
- Countless negative reviews that include quotes “the worst song ever” and “hilariously dreadful”
- Positive comments from Entertainment Weekly, Chris Brown, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber (her idol)
- Accolades from Simon Cowell, (via wikipedia):
Anyone who can create this much controversy within a week, I want to meet. I love people like that.” He observed that “any song to do with the weekend annoys you. It reminds me of ‘Saturday Night‘… It’s what we call a ‘hair-dryer song,’ a song girls sing into their hair dryers as they’re getting ready to go out. But the fact that it’s making people so angry is brilliant.” Cowell advised Black not to “listen to anyone over the age of 18. I’m being deadly serious. Whatever she’s done has worked. Whether you like her or not, she’s the most talked-about artist in America right now. Nobody over the age of 18 should understand her or like her. So she should just do it her way.”
- countless Youtube parodies
- acoustic performance on Good Morning America to prove she can sing the song without autotune
- a cover performance on Glee with “Puck” as the lead singer
- Katy Perry covers Friday at a Melbourne concert
- Bob Dylan sound-alike covers Friday
- royalties estimated at more than $26,000 from itunes and $20,000 from Youtube‘s revenue-sharing program (although the mother claims not to have seen any of this)
- Black deciding to donate percentage of earnings to earthquake and tornado victims
- Airplay and charting in Sweden, the U.K, New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland
- Jimmy Fallon and Steven Colbert challenging each other to a bet (over something, not sure what). The wager? The loser would have to sing “Friday” on the winner’s show. See more below…
“Friday” demonstrates how social media can influence and turn an unknown into the most-talked-about water cooler chatter within as little as a week. Her infamy would never have been possible without it. What’s sad is to see that something as simple as a song could generate death threats. Some say the success of “Friday” could be part of the future of pop music. A call to endless numbers of teenagers across the world that they too can be an overnight sensation or experience overnight defamation. If this is the future of pop music, I certainly hope more great songwriters come out of the woodwork, rather than the likes of Ark Music Factory.
So finally, here are a few videos:
First, the official video for Rabecca Black’s Friday:
And then the performance of “Friday” by Colbert, Fallon, the Roots, and Taylor Hicks:
Originally I was inspired to make fun of Rabecca Black’s (mis)step with “Friday” just like I would and have Paul Verhoeven’s and Elizabeth Berkley’s famous 90’s movie debacle “Showgirls“. But, despite how truly bad I feel the song (and singing) are, I kind of feel for the girl.
Can Rabecca Turn Friday, the 13th, into Black Friday?
Normally the modus operandi for consumers of pop culture is to build someone up so they can be torn down. It seems that the public loves a swift rise to fame but if someone gets too famous too quickly, it’s time to kick ’em to the curb. Since Rabecca Black has already been kicked to the curb, maybe her story will be a trend in the making? She’s already been beaten down so badly, could she turn the tables on a retching public and win them over?
In all fairness to Black, she is only thirteen, and most thirteen-year-olds don’t have the skill at choosing the best-written songs. A lot of young girls want to become pop stars at some point in their lives and I’m sure many of these have mothers that don’t have such great taste either.
Maybe Simon Cowell is right. Now that she has a following, a great songwriter and videographer could give her license to laugh at all of her naysayers, AND all the way to the bank. What is more likely to happen is that Rabecca Black will enjoy 15 months (rather than 15 minutes) of fame. Then, she’ll then be a kid who finishes high school, goes to college, and lives a “normal” Southern California life.
But if she is built up to stardom, it will most likely be, just so she could then be torn down all over again!