Why Rebecca Black is a Demon-Wizard Child Piper - Rolling Stone
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Why Rebecca Black is a Demon-Wizard Child Piper

14 ways Black’s viral hit ‘Friday’ is a thing of genius

1. It’s only been a week since Rebecca Black became a YouTube sensation with “Friday,” but the song remains full of mysteries. Who is Rebecca Black? How did this song happen? Is it a joke? Why does she find it so hard to decide whether to kick in the front seat or sit in the back seat? Why is she afraid we’ll get the days of the week in the wrong order? Could music possibly get any dippier? None of these questions have answers yet. (Except the last one: Fleet Foxes.) But maybe we’re not asking the right questions yet. Clearly, this song demands a deeper investigation.

2. “Friday” is not merely a pop hit or viral web phenomenon. It’s a message from the future, and should be decoded as such. It’s like the first time you saw a Mentos commercial or a Britney video, and the blatant artificiality gave you the creeps, the sense that Something Is Not Right and this is not How Things Are Done here in the U.S. of A. They looked weird, in a disturbing way. But they were just ahead of their time stylistically, showing how things would look and sound and feel from then on. Like them, Rebecca Black seems so foreign, she’s downright alien. But maybe that’s because she’s a prophetic emissary from a cyborg-pop future. Dude, this is all so first 20 minutes of Species.

3. Rebecca Black might sing like a robot, but that’s just proof she has evolved beyond us. Her vocal is just a slightly exaggerated version of the robot glitch-twitch stutter that’s been mainstream pop vocalese for the past 10 years or so. (Think of groundbreaking singles like Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills,” or Britney’s “Oops! I Did It Again,” which sounded similarly inhuman when they came out.) Rebecca is a child of the Britney/Beyoncé era. For her, exaggerated artificiality and emotional expression aren’t opposites. They’re the same thing.

4. If you compare “Friday” to, say, Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” or Ke$ha’s “Friday Night Bitch Fight,” Rebecca sounds much more like a real live human being, which is to say, an ordinary kid. The other two sound like actresses by comparison – and “Friday” is exactly the realness they’re trying to simulate.

5. She’s 13, which means she’s the same age as Radiohead’s OK Computer. Is she, in fact, Kid A herself?

6. I love the part when she’s kicking it in the back seat between two friends and she sings, “My friend is by my right!” Friend on the left? Totally dissed. Life is cold, friend on the left.

7. Isn’t the rapper a little old to be going to this party? He has a mustache.

8. It’s kind of silly to complain about the lyrics. Like, have you heard the Strokes album? They would be lucky to come up with a pithy phrase like “Sunday comes afterwards.” At least Rebecca Black doesn’t try to make up words like “gratisfaction.”

9. The video reminds me of my favorite episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the one where Sabrina goes to visit her hedonistic Aunt Festa, played by Raquel Welch. Aunt Festa guides Sabrina to the Hall of Video, where any girl can open the door and instantly step into her own pop video. (Seen that one lately? Check it out.) “Friday” is like that fantasy come true. And isn’t the this-could-be-you ordinary-girlness of this song the whole point?

10. “Cruising so fast, I want time to fly”? That’s like the theory of relativity – backwards!

11. Her official site, which leaves out boring details like her birthday or nationality or hometown, has a hilariously fake section of fan “comments,” including the statement, “Your song ‘Friday’ is to teen pop what the Beatles were to rock music!”

12. Friday morning at nine o’clock, she is far away. Waiting to keep the appointment she’s made, meeting a man from the Fire Arcade. Friday night arrives without a suitcase, Sunday morning creeping like a nun. Sunday’s on the phone to Monday. Tuesday’s on the phone to me. She’s leaving home. Bye-bye.

13. Is this a good song? Yes, it is, in ways that are not hard to hear for anybody who likes their pop music on the trashy side. There’s the Depechiness of the synth-pop surge, the Ace of Base touch of Euro melodic melancholy (that chorus is totally “The Sign”), the Miami-style stuttering bass (compare the immortal “Whoomp! There It Is”). But especially, it’s the pleading robot voice she uses to sing the word “Furrriiiiday,” investing the word with all sorts of yearning and anticipation, and the blotto-tuned gawkiness of it just makes it more believable.

14. You’d rather listen to Fleet Foxes? Fine. You’re probably right. But as for me, when Black Friday comes, I’m gonna grab my bowl, and eat cereal till I satisfy my soul. Today is Black Friday. Tomorrow is Black Saturday. Black Sunday comes afterwards. I don’t want this weekend to end.


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