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The True Story Behind Rebecca Black and the Hated “Friday”

Yeah, we all had a good laugh at Rebecca Black’s expense with “Friday.” But who’s laughing now? From Buzzfeed:

Rebecca Black just turned 18 and she’s forgotten how to flirt. It’s a problem. She might be at a party in a circle of friends, all of them egging her on, with an attractive and available-seeming (but not too available) guy standing just across the room, almost within earshot, occasionally stealing glances at her between sips from a perspiring Solo cup. But if Black actually tries to talk to this guy, even if he’s perfectly nice and funny, even if he compliments her wavy brown mermaid hair and natural California-king smile, she will inevitably freeze or, worse, say something that will make her want to bury her head in her hands and vanish into a pillowy wisp of smoke, Harry Potter-style.

It’s not that she’s not used to attention from guys — she is. They come up to her at the flea market or sometimes on the street, decent and smiling in a way that makes her daydream. But it’s what happens shortly after, once the small talk has gone limp, or maybe a few days later over text, that has caused her to put a moratorium on engaging with strange men altogether. “You look really familiar,” they’ll say, just like you would if you were in their shoes. “Do I know you from somewhere?”

“And then it will click and that will be it,” Black says, venting in a cheap French bistro in West L.A. “It sucks.” Her usually sunny demeanor dims slightly and she averts her big brown eyes, hesitating momentarily as if fondling the keys that launch the nukes. “Their whole attitude will change, or they’ll get really shy. I think it’s really intimidating for a lot of people, but I don’t know why. It’s not like I’m Selena Gomez or something. I’m a pretty nice, normal person.”

Nice? Totally. But normal? That’s more complicated. Everyone remembers Rebecca Black. More than four years ago, when she was 13 and zealously Auto-Tuned, beaming directly into the camera and sing-talking a diabolically mindless and improbably innocent ode to the weekend, she was inescapable. The video for her song “Friday,” which was written and produced for Black by the now-defunct vanity production company ARK Music Factory as a gift from her mother, became the fastest-spreading amateur viral video of all time when it was released in 2011, drawing more than 100 million views in just over 30 days.

You remember it. Girl wakes up in bed with comically out-of-control frizz, girl has manic craving for cereal, girl faces an unexpectedly crippling dilemma over “kickin’ in the front seat” or “sittin’ in the backseat,” girl climactically lists the days of the week. The lyrics of the song, staged in the video with fanatical literalism, took pop music’s tendency to amplify only the most common human experiences to brazen extremes, until their content bore all the conceptual nuance of a Fisher-Price See ’N Say. Patrice Wilson, the founder of ARK, who delivers a bewildering rap verse in the video, said at the time that he wanted to write a song that “was really simple but something that sticks in people’s head. To have people say, ‘I hate this song, but I’m still singing it.’” The successful result sounds like someone having a really fun stroke.

You’ll want to keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37884 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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