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Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Night Videos: "Friday" by Rebecca Black

I hope all of you have enjoyed this special week where I switched things around a bit. I may end up doing it again in a few months time. But, don't worry, I'll provide all of you with advanced warning beforehand.

Tomorrow, we'll go back to the old schedule, so on Saturdays, it'll be back to discussing cartoons, and so on.

I must offer a bit of a confession for you all. I had planned the September Switcheroo for a while now, and part of the reason is because there was one subject that I really wanted to talk about for a while now.

By the process of elimination, you've probably figured out that every theme has been accounted for except for one. That would be the day that I would normally have the Sunday Jukebox.

For some reason though, I didn't think that it was appropriate to post on a Sunday. Not because it happens to be a song about sacrificial Satanic rituals and posting it on a day that is highly religious in nature. Nothing like that at all. Those who know me best would know that while I consider myself to be a spiritual person in nature, I am not religious.

No, the reason why I wanted to wait until a Friday to post this entry is because the song title happens to have the word 'Friday' in its title.

Certainly there are a lot of songs that could qualify for this honour. Dozens of them from artists such as The Cure, Katy Perry, Steely Dan, and Nancy Sinatra.

Instead, I chose the song that just six months ago, everyone talked about this song...and not necessarily in a good way either.

Prior to 2011, Rebecca Black was your typical thirteen year old girl who attended junior high school. Rebecca had a keen interest in music, and taking a tip from a classmate of hers at the time, decided to make a music video using the help of a record label, Ark Music Factory. For $4,000 (which Rebecca's mother paid), Rebecca got the choice of one of two songs that she could sing and make an accompanying music video.

To Rebecca's credit, one of the songs that was offered to her was a song about adult love, which she immediately rejected. After all, she was only a teenager, and hadn't experienced those feelings yet. She instead chose the other song that was immediately offered to her.

And, here's the song she ended up recording.

ARTIST: Rebecca Black
SONG: Friday
DATE RELEASED: February 10, 2011

When 'Friday' was first released onto the video-sharing site YouTube in February 2011, Rebecca Black was eager to share it with her friends and family. She had hopes that the video would help her launch a singing career, although Ark Music had told Rebecca's parents that she shouldn't expect to become famous because of the one video she shot.

During the first month of the video being posted on YouTube, it amassed about 4,000 views. Not a huge number, but certainly enough to satisfy Black. I know that sometimes I get a little giddy when I check the page views for this own blog because at least I know that people are reading my thoughts and feelings and hopefully getting something out of it.

Of course, I don't think Rebecca Black expected her little $4,000 video to become an Internet sensation. Especially one that was for all the wrong reasons.

The date was March 11, 2011. Four weeks after 'Friday' was first released on the Internet. Thanks to comedian Michael J. Nelson posting a link to the video on his Twitter account as well as a Tosh 2.0 blog post entitled 'Songwriting Isn't For Everyone', the views for Rebecca Black's music video skyrocketed.

By March 21, 2011, the video for 'Friday' had swelled up to 30 million views on YouTube and quickly became one of the most viewed videos on the video-sharing site since it was founded in February 2005.

You would think that this would be fantastic news for Rebecca Black. Thirty million views for a video. Most singers are lucky to even get one-eighth of that reception. Rebecca Black should have been on cloud nine.

However, quite the opposite reaction happened.

You see, on YouTube, there is a feature on every video that allows registered users to vote on whether they like or dislike a video. It's a pretty standard feature, really. It was only natural that people who viewed 'Friday' would take advantage of this feature.

Unfortunately for Rebecca Black, more people clicked on the dislike button than the like button.

In fact, of all the votes cast during the video's original posting, a reported 87% of them were dislikes. As if that wasn't bad enough, the comments that users left behind underneath the video ranged from vague sarcasm to outright cruelty. Most of them were the standard 'this sucks' caliber, but some of them were absolutely horrible. Some of them begged her to stop singing. A few of them attacked Rebecca personally, saying that she should develop an eating disorder to improve her looks and that they wanted her to cut herself.

To make matters even worse, the bullying and teasing wasn't just limited to the Internet. Rebecca Black suffered bullying and abuse at school by her classmates. In 2011, Rebecca decided to leave public school and go into a home-schooling program. She claimed that it was so she could have more time to develop her singing career, though one has to wonder if the bullying that she went through influenced her decision.

In May 2011, the comments for the 'Friday' video were disabled, and on June 16, 2011, the video was removed from YouTube with permission from Rebecca Black, as Black's family was involved in a legal dispute with Ark Music Factory at the time. The video was uploaded once again on September 16, 2011 under Rebecca Black's own YouTube channel, as you probably have seen up above.

Still, the criticism continues to surround Rebecca Black. Several people have stated that 'Friday' is the worst song ever recorded. Kind of a hard title to overcome, right? Not something one would want to be remembered for, right?

But here's the thing. Rebecca Black's 'Friday' ISN'T the worst song ever recorded. At least not in my opinion.

I mean, I won't sugarcoat this blog entry completely. I'm not in love with 'Friday'. I can't lie and say that I like it, because I have to admit it isn't that memorable. However, it's far from being the 'worst' I ever heard. I think a lot of the biggest critics of this song and video don't seem to realize that their perspective might be a lot different from that of somebody else. I mean, certainly it wasn't Grammy Award worthy, but it didn't warrant the nasty reactions that other people gave it (and her).

I have a low tolerance for bullies and people who purposely say hurtful things for the sole purpose of making someone else feel bad. It doesn't matter what a person does or if they do something that you don't particularly like. Sometimes there are some instances where the best thing to do is keep your thoughts to yourself.

I have no problem with criticism as long as it is constructive. Some people disliked the idea of Rebecca Black's song overusing the device known as Auto-Tune. I can't say that I blame them one bit in that regard, as the Auto-Tune was way overused. But I only say this because when you take away the Auto-Tuning, Rebecca Black actually doesn't sound too bad. She has another song out called 'My Moment', and there's no Auto-Tune, and I think I may like it better than 'Friday' because it is Rebecca just being herself without any aid.

And, while we're on the subject, Rebecca Black is only fourteen years old. People aren't born great singers, writers, bricklayers overnight. The best have to work at it each and every day. I'm sure that with constant practice and cultivation of her abilities and skills, Rebecca could end up surprising everyone. Maybe it won't amount to anything beyond 'Friday', but I'm willing to give her the shot to prove her critics wrong. It's possible that they may be right, but it's also entirely possible that they could be wrong about her.

I guess one of the biggest problems that I personally find with the mechanics of 'Friday' is the lyrics of the song. It wouldn't have mattered if Celine Dion had sang them. They weren't exactly Grammy award worthy.

(Of course, mind you, most of the music that came out this year hasn't exactly been stellar, but of course, this is merely my stance, and you can feel free to agree or disagree as you see fit.)

However, were the lyrics appropriate enough for a teenage girl to sing? Absolutely. I mean, certainly she had the option to sing a more adult song, but she refused because she simply didn't feel that it fit for her at that point in time, and really, I think that should be commended. With so many female teenage singers being encouraged by the current music industry to 'sex it up' and sing songs that are years ahead of them, I actually want to applaud her for taking that stance, and doing what she thought was the right choice for her.

And besides, Rebecca Black didn't write the lyrics for 'Friday'. It's hard to know exactly how much creative control Rebecca really did have on that song, though just based on the research that I have done on this song at least, I'm unable to find anything that suggests that Rebecca had any impact on the lyrics of the song whatsoever. My guess is that she was given the lyrics and was just told to sing her little heart out.

As I said before, criticism is fine as long as it is constructive. My opinion that Rebecca Black should lay off the Auto-Tune button and actually sing without the use of such devices still stands, but that's only because I think she sounds better without all those devices. I know that in some songs, Auto-Tune could be used sparingly and still end up being a hit (I'm thinking of Cher's song 'Believe' as a fantastic example of this), but when the whole song is utilizing it, that is a different story altogether. But that's fine, I'm sure that my comments would probably mean nothing to anyone involved with the making of 'Friday'. I'm just putting it out there to illustrate my point about constructive criticism.

Constructive criticism does NOT involve calling someone names, completely tearing apart their self-esteem and wishing them bodily harm or hoping they develop anorexia. That is just needless cruelty, and I for one am disgusted that people can act like this towards someone else. Not surprised, sadly...but disgusted. It doesn't matter how terrible you think that someone might be. It is unwarranted. It isn't as though Rebecca Black stabbed someone, robbed a charitable organization, or strangled a squirrel in front of a kindergarten class. She just released a simple music video for her friends and family to view, hoping that somehow it would help her appreciate music a lot more, and maybe start up a recording career as she grew older. It may not have been what the public wanted, but at the same time, I don't think it was worth making death threats against her.

And, I guess that's why I wanted to write this article. As someone who has been on the receiving end of bullying and deconstructive criticism, I can sympathize with what Rebecca Black had to go through. I couldn't even fathom having my struggles being broadcast all over television, the Internet, and other media sources. The fact that Rebecca Black is handling it as well as she has been has been nothing short of inspiring. I know it seems like an odd word choice to use in this situation, but really, Rebecca had to endure criticism from all over the world. Where many people would have crumbled or surrendered from the backlash, she seems to be taking it in stride. I can't say that it has been easy for her. I imagine that some days, she probably wanted to hide from the world.

The fact that she isn't, and the fact that she's standing up to her bullies by not letting the criticism get to her (at least in public view) is a great thing to see.

Whether Rebecca Black ends up carving out a career that lasts years, or whether she'll be a one-hit-wonder is not known at this time. She could be a success, or she may not. But with Rebecca Black making appearances in Katy Perry videos and her song being sung on the high-rated television program Glee, one might say that her infamy from having such a controversial song could end up netting Rebecca Black the last laugh.

Only time will tell, I suppose.

And that ends the September Switcheroo. I hope you all enjoyed this week of twists and turns, and know that things will return to normal beginning tomorrow. Have a great day, everyone, and thank you!

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting blog Matthew! I am probably the only person in the world who had never heard this song before. Your comments were what I would say. Hey, she was brave enough to put herself out there she will reap the benefits and will have the last laugh over the bullies!