22 April 2011

Because it's....FRIDAY! A Much Deeper than Necessary Analysis of Rebecca Black

IT'S FRIDAY! More specifically it's a Friday in April in the year 2011 CE which necessitates playing the ultimate Friday song at the loudest possible volume. Loverboy? Hell no, it's time for some "Friday" baby - sing it, girl!

Ugh. Wow. Um...yikes. Is it still Friday? Okay then, okay, okay. Let's keep listening to that again. Rough. Rough stuff. Okay that's shit. So needless to say, let's examine every little possible facet of this girl and her terrible song.

Rebecca was born the day after Batman & Robin (1997) came out in theaters. I'm not sure if we should blame overzealous Clooney fans in the hospital for her idiocy but we might as well. Put that in your mind though, her birth month also included Con Air, Face/Off and Speed 2: Cruise Control. Shit. In late 2010 her mommy approached the ARK Music Factory with the intent to producer her song, which the company wrote for her. Just so we're clear, ARK's official YouTube channel is "trizzy66" and "Friday" counts for 83% of the channel's 136,765,171 as of April 22, 2011. This is really just the tip of the Shittiness Iceberg.

Rebecca Black in a Greater Pop Culture Context:

Before we fully dive in here I really think this whole thing is actually a very interesting ordeal. Rebecca Black is actually pretty difficult to make fun of because every single thing about her is so obviously stupid. It's not like other massive Pop Culture objects of ridicule like Jersey Shore or Sarah Palin that have lots of genuine supporters as well as clear points of parody that they both were willing to exploit. "Friday" is the most disliked video in YouTube history (2,277,260 and counting, an 88% disapproval rating) and has so many obvious faults across every imaginable influential demographic - its popularity is exceedingly negative, truly lying in Infamy rather than prostigidy.

I think it's interesting that she's really only gained this fame through the internet. I haven't heard "Friday" once on a single radio or television station but it's on the minds of Pop Culture junkies everywhere. It's a sign of Pop Culture literally caving in and eating itself. It is so bad for the sake of bad, any enjoyment is completely ironic. It's a sure element of zeitgeist only because it is so inconceivably terrible that everyone needs to listen to it. Rebecca Black isn't like Justin Bieber or Twilight which are just preteen fads. She's a completely talentless girl thrust so suddenly into the spotlight because of her lack of talent rather than the contrary. She's not an idol or a sensation. She's a national joke - the meta-joke then becomes a reevaluation of fame: Is she any less worthy of the spotlight as long as she's getting the spotlight? If the aftereffects of fame through talent and fame through lack of talent are virtually identical (besides a swelling of negative criticism she is still a household name and still wealthy [tho she is giving lots of it away supposedly], the results of her 15 minutes is congruent) is this a sign of a truly postmodern society fueled on irony over sincerity? Needless to say the answer is yes.

Learn the Days of the Week with Rebecca Black!

Alright, so why is this thing so bad? Well, firstly the song has some of the most simplistic lyrics in a mainstream pop song ever. Just for kicks, skim this over. Here is the most painful chunk:

Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today is Friday, Friday (Partying)
We we we so excited
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today
Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes afterwards

Again as you can see, the problems here are so blatant that I have difficulty pointing them out. It's the most basic concept of Friday imaginable. No mention of Frige at all nor ABC's successful TGIF Line-up in the mid-90s, I mean, what else is there to say about Friday? Oh that it comes after Thursday. And before Saturday. And Sunday of course is afterwards. Actually the use of afterwards is slightly off here; according to this (I had to look up in three dictionaries [including one...in print] before I found a differentiating definition) the correct use should be simply "afterward." But then of course who's to take grammar lessons from a girl saying "We we we so excited." That's actually probably acceptable; if it's spoken fast the human ear tends to blur "we're" into "we" pretty well but when Rebecca sings it so flat and clear along with WRITTEN LYRICS IN THE FUCKING VIDEO it just highlights her grammatical difficulties. That's awful.

We're so excited. Please don't give up school for this.

This Bitch Needs More Auto-Tune

Rebecca has one of the flattest, boring monosyllabic styles of singing I've ever heard. AND she actually does have some Auto-Tune use in the song! I'm just thinking of Ke$ha without the magic voice box and...and Rebecca needs something. Actually Auto-Tune is not going to help your voice if there's no inflection, no passion or variation.

I think it was actually awesome then when Stephen Colbert covered the track on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon he purposely (Wait...I hope so) sang without much spirit in a very flat style. Here is that track. By the way, why the hell does NBC keep screwing itself like this - not allowing awesome Viral Videos like this to go online to everyone? I have to give you a backwards YouTube link like this. As if DarthMikael69 is really ripping them off. NBC has some incredible quality that it just doesn't get out there due to some really stymie Internet policies. That's the topic for a whole other post though. For now let's just enjoy Jimmy Fallon adeptly covering every terrible kid song produced for hopefully the next decade.

As for her body language and physical performance, Rebecca is also terrible. She has this awkward uncomfortable sway through it all that really matches well with her flat awkward singing. You can tell she's just a suburban kid suddenly for some reason in the national spotlight and she really just wanted to make a song for her friends to do whatever they think "partying" on a Friday is (popcorn, jammies and up until 11 O'CLOCK!!!11!1!@). It's insane.

Rebecca Black in a Societal Context:

I think "Friday" is an emblematic song for many problems facing typical American teenagers. What's the roughest decision of the day? Front seat or back seat. That's about it. It's an era of security, helicopter parenting and smart phones completely devoid of serious problems. I want to see Rebecca Black's Libyan equivalent right now (that's probably excessive, Bryan). But really, it's such utter garbage devoid of true artistic pain or depth. I mean, even Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" is about something. Rebecca is just about nothing, and not a commentary on nothing either, it's not wholly nihilistic. It's just trash.

No, you haven't had enough yet.
I also find a couple of her other lyrics an interesting commentary on the state of American Society. She opens with "Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs / Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal / Seeing everything, the time is going / Ticking on and on, everybody's rushing." Note the urgency with each dull task as well as the complacency. Her life is built into a routine driven by socio-cultural factors to act in a certain way that conforms to a Consumer-based model of American Life. Her only freedom really comes on Friday when she cuts loose, ducks the bus stop only to arrive at a greater challenge - Front Seat or Back Seat?

This becomes actually one of the only things in her life she can actually choose. This also pertains to Rebecca herself. She didn't choose her song lyrics, her fame, her image or her criticism. All she is left with is Front Seat or Back Seat - the most meaningless decisions possible. We can note that in the lyrics she never decides - she is stuck on the choice and then gives up - after all, it's Fucking Friday. Friday liberates her from the dull choice and she creates a third option - Partying, Partying Yeah. Fun Fun Fun Fun.

Wait, Now What is this Black Guy Doing Here?

Halfway through this song this random Rapper comes out driving some car through an urban environment (contrasting with the obvious suburban location, tone and image of Rebecca) and has this cute little rap. The song quickly fires back to Rebecca finishing at some Suburban House Party. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out the purpose of this number in an otherwise very Chick Pop-y song.

The easiest reason is that the Black Dude in the video is the Co-Founder of ARK Music Factory and the writer of "Friday," Patrice Wilson (whose name I actually had a difficult time tracking down). Mr. Wilson obviously wanted to piggyback on Rebecca's incoming success and the best way to do that and get out there himself was to actually appear in the song itself as well as in the Writing and Producing Credits. The problem is that the rap part has no place with the tone of the song other than to drastically increase the ironic absurdity.

What is with this blend of Chick Pop and Hip-Hop? I blame Xtina again, although Redman actually fits pretty well with that song's theme (Because it's fucking "Dirrty" - Redman belongs in that world and helped secure Christina's new image by initiating her into that world), but I still wonder about the methodology. Do producers believe that they need to expand their base audience into males (black or otherwise) by adding rap verses into tracks otherwise limited to Young Women / Perverts? Instead of uniting demographics I believe it splits them apart - the girls aren't attracted to the hard rap (not always true) and the hetero guys are certainly turned off by the Girl Pop.

That being said, there are lots of rap songs that girls like and they're certainly moreover the ones without many guns or ho's mentioned. I think Katy and Snoop's "California Gurls" is enjoyable by both genders which contributed to its huge crossover success last summer. Others like Jay-Z inexplicably appearing at the start of Rihanna's "Umbrella" leads rap fans in and then just screws them over with Pop for the rest of the song. There have been some interesting developments blending this whole idea lately as collaboration becomes more and more popular.Nicki Minaj's opening rap in "Moment 4 Life" is by far the best part of that song tho she sings the rest and Drake is just terrible. She needs more rapping actually, we get it, you can sing. Do what's unique about you, Nicki. She certainly bridges this male/female standard gap however. Likewise Kanye's competent rapping sandwiches Katy's verses in "E.T." which adds a bit of complexity to the standard format of rapping in that third verse (which you see everywhere from "Friday" to fucking "We Are the World 25 for Haiti"). Actually I'm starting to like how Eminem doesn't trust his singing at all and brings in girls like Rihanna and Skylar Grey to fill in the hooks.

Where the hell was I?

Oh yeah, it's Friday. Time to party.

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