Ten years ago today, the world met then-thirteen-year-old Rebecca Black. They watched as she woke up at 7:00 a.m., had some cereal, waited for a bus, and contemplated which seat she should take in her friend’s car. Now, Black has transformed the viral debut into a glitched-out, star-studded pop anthem, and Gemma Cockrell jumps in for the ride.
When Friday was released, Rebecca Black was just thirteen-years-old and living in Irvine, California. After being featured on American comedian Daniel Tosh’s TV show, Tosh.0, the song’s music video went viral, and was coined by some as the “worst video ever made.” It was performed by Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert on the ‘Late Night’ show, there was a Glee rendition, and artists including Odd Future, Nick Jonas, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry penned live covers of the song.
A week after being released on iTunes, the song reached number nineteen on the charts, and the music video had gained over thirty million views on YouTube. Black became an internet meme, for better or for worse – a source of amusement, as well as the subject of hateful comments and death threats. The song came about after Black contacted Ark, a now-defunct business that recruited young, no-name singers, who paid the company sums of between $2000 and $4000 dollars to produce and promote original singles and music videos. She had never planned to go viral and saw making the song as merely a fun experiment.
‘As one of the earliest overnight celebrities of the internet, Black was very much ahead of her time.’
Nowadays, the concept of teenagers making songs and posting them on the internet may not seem as foreign as it did back in 2011. It was a new concept, long before TikTok fame existed, and came with almost guaranteed backlash. As one of the earliest overnight celebrities of the internet, Black was very much ahead of her time. In 2021, teenagers the world over are making hit songs with the aim of going viral on the internet, with some even being rewarded with record deals. The internet is a different place today in comparison to ten years ago, and it is undeniable that had Friday been released today, it would have had a very different reception.
Today, Black is twenty-three, and the original version of Friday has over 150 million views on YouTube. To celebrate the viral hits ten-year anniversary, the singer has released a glitched-out remix of the track, produced by 100 gecs’ Dylan Brady. Titled Friday (Remix), the track features new vocals from rapper Big Freedia, electronic duo 3OH!3, and singer Dorian Electra. It features distorted and pitch-shifted vocals, pounding bass, and pixelated synths, which have transformed it into a modern-day hyperpop anthem. “I’d had the idea to do this remix of Friday for years leading up to now, but honestly it was also mildly insane for me to think anyone else would want to be a part of it,” Black said of the song. “As I started talking about it with other artists and producers, I couldn’t believe how stoked people were about it. I am thrilled to have some of my favourite artists (and people) as a part of this moment.”
The hyperpop direction of the Friday (Remix) began when Laura Les of 100 gecs reached out to Black last year, asking to work with her. A few months later, Dorian Electra, another hyperpop giant, also reached out to her. Black is evidently a huge fan of the genre, having recently taken over Spotify’s ‘hyperpop’ playlist, adding seventy-three songs from artists such as Charli XCX, SOPHIE, p4rkr, and A.G. Cook. “It just happened naturally,” Black speaks of the collaborations, “they’re all people who I consider friends and who are excited about the same kinds of things.”
This may come as a surprise to some, but Black never actually stopped releasing music after Friday went viral. From 2012 to 2019, she released a few stand-alone singles, an EP titled RB / BL, and a few covers of pop hits. However, she started to release music more regularly in 2020, including her first collaboration with Dorian Electra, titled Edgelord. 2021 seems to be the year in which she is fully embracing her comeback. Her first single of the year, Girlfriend, released at the end of January, serves as a celebration of her sexuality after she came out as queer.
The Friday (Remix) was released just over a week after. Black is here to stay this time, and after spending most of the Covid-19 quarantine working on new music, it has been rumored that she will be releasing a full-length project this summer.
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