In a world where making a record is as easy as starring on reality TV, and even easier when you have your own show, Rebecca Black was bound to happen.
Don’t worry. Black, the fourteen-year-old from Anaheim, California, who made us wonder if she was making fun of shallow pop stars or being one herself in her viral YouTube video “Friday,” hasn’t gotten her own reality show. Yet. But isn’t it only just a matter of time?
What she does have is a level of fame—or infamy, depending on how you want to look at it—without having any discernible singing talent. Before it was yanked from YouTube in June over a dispute between Black and her former record label, Ark Music Factory, her “Friday” video had logged some 161 million views. Black became an Internet favorite, with article after online article devoted to her and her music—well, her song. Some people loved her; some people hated her; everyone was talking about her. Everybody’s still talking. Katy Perry even invited Black to costar in her “T.G.I.F. (Last Friday Night)” video.
Yes, Rebecca Black is a huge hit. Ironically, though, she has yet to have one. For all of the hoopla surrounding it, “Friday” was never a commercial success as a single. It peaked at No. 58 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and didn’t fare much better anywhere it was released.
Australia, one of the few places where “Friday” made it to the Top 40, is about to launch its own fourteen-year-old star, Jack Vidgen, recent winner of Australia’s Got Talent. Sadly, it’s gonna take a miracle—or maybe a Black cameo in his video—to give Vidgen’s career any momentum in the US, which Justin Bieber aside, has been resistant to young male solo pop (i.e., white) stars since Justin Timberlake went Hollywood.
We’ve tried not to get too involved in the whole Rebecca Black fracas that’s been brewing on the Internet for the past few weeks. It’s been hard considering that for a minute there Black was seemingly plastered onto every single Web site on the web and her song “Friday” was being streamed simultaneously by every human being with a broadband connection on the planet.
However, now that things have died down a bit we can take a step back and start really looking at the career of Rebecca Black. Though she’s post-ubiquity, don’t think for a second that we’re done hearing from Black. In fact, she’s been planting the seeds to turn her fifteen minutes into a legitimate career. Given how fast things have been moving for her it can be hard for anyone to track her trajectory. And because she is an Internet phenomenon, it’s tough to parse through the heresay and the rumors to determine what’s really happening and what isn’t.
Just know that OurStage Magazine is here for you.
To help cut through the B.S., we’ve decided to share a few of the facts about the young Rebecca Black and her nascent career. We’re also going to throw in some rumors* of our own is as well. Who says we can’t have a little fun fun fun of our own?
Revelation: Rebecca Black is suing Ark Music Factory
Rebecca Black did sign with… someone. She’s now working with a big time management team and Ark CEO Patrice Wilson aka Fat Usher aka that rapper in the “Friday” video (!) did state that she was no longer with Ark, cryptically stating that she was now signed with somebody else. But who? Why not Universal, already the home of fellow rising pop star Jessie J, fellow role model to young women Taylor Swift and Black’s beloved Justin Bieber (seriously, she has a Bieber shrine). She’d fit right in.
Revelation: Rebecca Black is working on her full length debut album
Not one to rest on her laurels Black is already working on her full length debut at Flying Pig Productions. She’s also got her next single slated to come out in the near future titled “LOL”. The chorus of the song? “BFF you make me LOL“. Inspiring.
Rumor: Rebecca Black’s new album will feature guest spots from Eminem and Snoop Dogg
Rebecca Black’s connection to rap is already known and she recently received a blessing from Snoop Dogg himself. So it shouldn’t be surprising that in an effort to boost her artistic credibility she will be teaming up the Doggfather and shock rapper Eminem on the LP. When asked about the move, Black was quoted as saying she was “tired of all the fake ass bitches hating on her.” Who knew she was so hood?
Revelation: “Friday” might not be the best song in the world but people love to cover it
Say what you will, but there’s no denying that for a disposable fluff-pop single, “Friday” has got some legs. It’s no revelation that Rebecca Black is obsessed with the Biebs (she is a teen girl) so it must’ve been extra special when she heard his rendition of her big hit. And by rendition we mean a few bars inbetween songs at a show in Nottingham. Is a collaboration between the two stars imminent?! No, no probably not.
He’s not the only one to get in on the act. Late night funnymen Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert also got into the act on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The song got an appropriately epic treatment with The Roots providing the instrumental muscle and the immortal Taylor Hicks of American Idol fame, who we didn’t know could play the harmonica!
Rumor: Move over Gwyneth, Rebecca Black is about to be the next big Glee guest star
You heard us right folks, Rebecca Black has been slated to appear on the hit musical TV show! In an attempt to lend her musical chops some credibility she’s going to be featured in an upcoming episode as the evil stepsister of Rachel Berry, the female lead of the singing cast played by Lea Michele.
The resemblance is uncanny.
The storyline for the episodes states that, “Rachel’s younger sister, jealous of the success and attention that her sibling’s received tries to join the Glee Club herself and when she can’t join the club she teams up with cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester to take the glee club down once and for all!” Rebecca Black was excited for the opportunity to showcase her acting chops, seeing the episode as way to demonstrate to fans that, “[I'm] a double threat.” No word on when she’ll make her Dancing With The Stars debut.
* Please note that it’s entirely possible that we made all of these rumors up.
Welcome to Industrial Revolution, with your host Scott Janovitz. In this space, we will observe and report on various topics, happenings, changes and innovations related to today’s evolving music industry. Janovitz is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and winner of two Boston Music Awards who has toured around the world. He has worked in the music biz as a record store clerk, door guy, sound guy, major label rep, writer, producer and studio owner…in no particular order. He is also a television addict and food enthusiast.
Rebecca Black’s Internet-dominating single/video “Friday” has garnered north of 40 million views and plenty of commentary since it was posted on YouTube on February 10th. Some of the discussion has focused on whether or not the singer and song are any good. Anyone with two ears and a heart could settle that with a negatory, good buddy. Even great singers are simply not interesting enough to incite a 40,000,000 count viral riot. So what’s the big deal?
The compelling thing about this song and its stunningly ill-conceived video is what it reveals about (and portends for) pop music. At issue is not Rebecca Black’s talent, but rather Ark Music Factory—the production team behind the whole shebang—and the question of just how little it takes to create popular art. Ark’s answer is the product now known across the land as Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”
Ark Music Factory, hired in this case by Black’s mother, lived up to their name and churned out a contender for laziest song ever written. It’s hard to fault them, though; they call themselves a music factory right up front. What they don’t mention is that it must be the saddest, soulless, and most cynical factory this side of Chuck Dickens.
Ark Music Factory?
If Ark were just incompetent, it would be one thing. But these guys at least understand the very basics of songwriting and production. Their song follows a contemporary pop structure, complete with a guest rapper on the bridge, and a simple little hook. But, damn…those lyrics. I mean, DAMN THOSE LYRICS. If Ark had just put together even a hint of a narrative, or had not treated the recurring line, “which seat can I take?” as the song’s emotional center, “Friday” would not be the giant Internet kidney stone that it has become. It would be another unknown, wanna-be pop singer vanity project.
But then we would never have heard of it. So maybe all our rubbernecking at “Friday” is because we are aware that this could be the future of pop music. The dizzyingly low quality of “Friday” has become its reason for being. Okay, mainstream music probably won’t uniformly get this bad— after all, there is credible, occasionally innovative, and even great pop music being made by thoughtful and/or interesting pop stars which sets a high mark, both creatively and commercially. But there’s also a pretty low mark at the other end, which denotes what we, as pop consumers, will still accept. As silly as “Friday” might be, we realize that it only just misses that low mark. The only difference between Rebecca Black and Bieber or even someone like Ashley Simpson (before she gave it all up in the interest of avoiding further embarrassment and, presumably, not having to deal with her dad anymore) is a very small amount of effort on the part of her producers.
Impending doom never looked so adorable.
Pop music is in danger of being taken over, not by singers like Rebecca Black—who in better hands could easily be made to seem as legit as those other fluffy popsters—but by people like Ark Music Factory, who would foist upon us a new generation of utterly blank pop music and stars, devoid of even the pretense of substance. They would celebrate the Biebers of the world as aspirational—the height of what can be achieved in commercial music. So we look at Rebecca Black and we see that, a few missteps aside, it’s just a stone’s throw to our mainstream pop sensations. After all, it’s difficult to argue that she’s not one of them already.