Rebecca Black’s Friday and Other YouTube Sensations

It was a couple months ago that I was first introduced to the video of this special, special new song that has taken YouTube by storm. My husband preambled it by telling me it was basically the worst song ever.

I’ll admit I was skeptical. Could this really be worse than Kylie Minogue’s “I Just Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” or Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4U”? If you haven’t already, take a look and form your own opinions before I go bloggifying it.

I had to agree it was incredibly bad in many ways. My thoughts ranged thus: Nobody’s lip gloss looks like that when they wake up… Why is she only singing one note?… Seriously, we rhyme “bowl” and “cereal”?… Are we going to get a blow-by-blow of this kid’s entire day??… Okay, NO WAY are those kids old enough to drive… Um, even when you’re twelve you should be able to decide instantaneously which seat you’re gonna sit in… And that’s only the first 45 seconds.

I winced at her nasal timbre during the chorus. I cringed visibly hearing lyrics that somebody must have actually written down somewhere: “Partyin’ partyin’ – yeah – partyin’ partyin’ – yeah – fun, fun, fun, fun…” I shook my head at the awkward use of lingo (like “kickin’ in the front seat”) – and I’m OLD, what do I know about lingo? And my jaw actually dropped when I got to the bridge that explains the order of the days of the week. Just… wow.

I was also struck by the naivet├ę of this video, with its elements of something I would have dreamed of starring in when I was a pre-teen (and making up Sweet Valley High songs – which, though banal, had better lyrics). At that age, I didn’t actually want to be a pop star, but I did want to be gorgeous and popular and fashionable (I wasn’t) and seem grown-up (I didn’t, except perhaps with respect to my vocabulary). This video is full of things that make Rebecca seem more grown-up than she is: shiny makeup, friends with a car, sitting up on top of the backseat, wearing glam clothes and jewelry, going independently to a party where there are apparently no adults… As if it came directly from the imagination of someone un-cool, envisioning what cool looks like.

As you will have noticed if you made it to the end, the number of parodies of this video is truly impressive. I ended up watching this ABC News clip about reaction to the video instead.

It was shocking to me. I guess I just don’t have enough first-hand experience with cyber-bullying and the kinds of extreme things kids will say from the safety of anonymity. Wikipedia even says “In response to the YouTube video of “Friday”, Black began to receive death threats in late February 2011, specifically by phone and email.[25] While there were a number of negative, and many violent, comments on the YouTube video itself, none of the comments were specific to Black or direct in their threat of violence. These threats are being investigated by the Anaheim Police Department.[26] As of May 17, 2011, commenting on the video has been disabled.

I also found out a few more things:

  • Rebecca is thirteen, to turn fourteen in June.
  • She began singing publicly in 2008, as part of Celebration USA.
  • Her parents paid Ark Music Factory to make the video as a “vanity release”.
  • The two guys in Ark wrote the song “Friday” in its entirety.
  • Therefore, they are to blame for its being amongst the worst songs in the world.
  • That trying-way-too-hard guy rapping in the video is also one of the Ark guys.
  • No wonder it’s all so dorky.

In the news clip, Rebecca seems to me like a pretty normal, sweet girl who has suddenly had to develop (or at least pretend to have) a positive attitude about being treated horribly by people who have never met her. You can say she brought it on herself by a) having the video made and b) putting it out there on YouTube, but COME ON. No thirteen-year-old deserves to be told “I hope you die.”

The question that rises to my mind is, what kind of people are these who decide to go beyond the “Dislike” button and engage in cruelty? I hope they’re not adults, because that’s just pathetic and creepy. But even though I presume most of the commenters are kids around Rebecca’s own age, and I already know that kids can be really mean for no good reason, this is still way overboard.

I’ve had many a talk with youngsters about bullying and being mean, and there’s only ever been one (whom I fear seeing in the paper as a murder suspect in a few years) who answered Yes to the questions “Do you really want to hurt people and make them feel awful? Do you want to be a mean person?” My brain hurts when I try to imagine what kind of baggage a kid must have in order to get this angry and vitriolic about a simple, albeit dumb, music video.

If bad music were a valid reason for viciousness, there would be violent riots over Jan Terri:

Kids: if you find yourself wishing a bloody demise upon a complete stranger while you’re watching YouTube, you are watching too much YouTube. GO PLAY, right now. Go, scoot.

And adults: if you need something to get the taste of Jan and Rebecca out of your ears, here’s a hilariously intelligent, though exceedingly nerdy and dirty, alternative (if you find this one offensive, definitely don’t check out the rest of his videos):

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6 thoughts on “Rebecca Black’s Friday and Other YouTube Sensations

  1. BD says:

    So here’s how it went down:
    Stephen Colbert sold a portrait of himself for $26,000 and donated the funds to DonorsChoose.org and, without consultation, announced that his BFFSM (Best Friend Forever for Six Months), Jimmy Fallon, would be matching that donation. Jimmy had made no such commitment, and on his show declared that if his fans covered the amount, Stephen Colbert would appear on his show to sing Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday.’ The fans came through, and this is the result: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLAMhTorPCk

  2. emerge says:

    I thought it was a suspense film – front seat? back seat? WHICH ONE??? OMG!!!

    Also, the dude on his own in a different car talking about the seats, that was just really confusing. And a little bit creepy since he seemed to be much older than the other kids. Maybe he was police? Or one of their dads, ready to pay off the police if they got pulled over for underage driving, or too many people kickin it without seatbelts.

    I did enjoy, though, the nod to public transit when she starts out at the bus stop. (“My parents are rich enough to pay for my vanity video, but not so snooty they have to drive me to school.”)

    And despite the glitzy dresses and Rebecca’s overdone makeup (ok, I only wished to look like that when I was 13), those look like pretty darn wholesome kids! Look at em! They’d never make it into a Britney Spears video, would they? One girl even seems to have braces. And – I was watching for it – there is no evidence of drugs or alcohol being involved in their partyin partyin. Though maybe it’s implied; she does say “fun, fun, think about fun – you know what it is.” And she does grab her chest and say “I got this, you got this.” And offer “my friend is by my right.” Hmm.

    On second watching, it struck me that maybe the guys who made this had seen all those Literal Videos on youtube and thought they were for real? The lyrics about how he’s driving, cruising, there’s a school bus; or how it’s 7 am and I gotta get downstairs and get a bowl to eat cereal – that’s classic Literal stuff.

    Though maybe it’s more like an instructional video, like I’d use in ESL class. For learning prepositions of how people are arranged in a car, or the days of the week. We don’t need to know WHY they’re so much fun, we really need to know what they’re CALLED first.

    Anyway. Yeah. Death threats, or even vicious youtube comments, are just way out of any kind of line, and all that stuff you said. This all makes me a bit nostalgic for the old low-tech non-globalized days before the internet.

    The days when a woman who wanted to get famous singing bad songs had to rent a camera and a limousine on her own and had no Auto-tune to fall back on. Watching Jan Terri is like a little trip back to the awkward cheesiness of the era of my youth, when being nerdy wasn’t cool yet (no Bo, yo) and bad fashion was cool. Sigh. I miss that. I’m glad Jan Terri has immortalized some of that spirit so consummately.

    (Please notice that Jan Terri doesn’t have to choose a seat; she has a guy in uniform to show her where to sit.)

    I think Bo got all the lyrics that Rebecca’s video didn’t have. And cleverness. (monthly ellipsis! hahaha. And I didn’t get that BAT-out-of-Basement thing before.) Yeah, also all the drugs and sex. And non-sequiturs. And Asian child labour. It’s sort of the anti-Friday.

    I I I so tired. I gonna go to bed now. Tomorrow is Tuesday.

  3. Krista says:

    My 14 year old niece showed me the Friday video… so that she could then show me a parody video which ends abruptly after 30 or 40 seconds with a “crash” and a warning not to let 13 year olds drive. I know someone who refused to watch a recent episode of Glee because it featured a cover of this song. It certainly has people talking. And no, it’s not a good song. And no, she doesn’t have a good voice, even with (or maybe especially with?) “Auto-tune”. But she certainly doesn’t deserve the vicious comments that have apparently been made. There are a lot of people out there in cyberspace who need to mind their manners.
    On a slightly different note… I loved the Stephen Colbert version! Funny! I couldn’t even get through that Jan Terri video (how on earth did you find that??) and just for fun, here’s a link to my favourite Literal Video (which I showed my niece right after she subjected me to “Friday”).

  4. emerge says:

    That’s my favourite Literal Video too, Krista – the first one I ever saw, and nothing else has lived up to it. Glad there’s still a version out there…

    There is a feature on Jan Terri, about 20 minutes broken up in 4 parts on youtube – “The One, The Only Jan Terri” i think, if you look. I recommend it.

    (There’s also a guy named Mark Gormley who comes up in the sidebar along with these things. He’s got actual musical chops, and seems like a nice guy, even if he never figured out that most people don’t stand stock still in their music videos!)

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