Archive for March, 2011

My Thoughts on “Friday” -or- Give the Kid a Break

March 29, 2011 Leave a comment

For days I’ve been seeing this name pop up. It’s been mostly in vague terms. I dimly had the idea that some girl released some terrible song or something. But then Bob Lefsetz mentions it in his Letter. And Conan does a parody of it on his show on TBS. So I looked her up today, and I have to say, it’s awful to the point of unintentional hilariousness, but people should give this kid a break.

Image from a fan website.

First and foremost, the song sucks. Admittedly. The song itself is grade A crap. The music is generic recycled pop and the lyrics can barely be classified as such. It’s an unintentional parody of itself. That being said, stop assuming that this kid wrote it. She didn’t. It was written by two adult males, who apparently aren’t worried about being taken seriously. But let me back up a step.

Patrice Wilson and Clarence Jey are co-owners of ARK Music Factory in Los Angeles. In the changing music industry, these guys have brilliantly found a niche: targeting the loving parents of somewhat talented kids. Give them $2,000, and they’ll record your child and put out a video. Heck, they’ll even write the song for you. Parents love their children, and they believe in them more than anyone else. So of course they’ll lay down a bit of money to help them follow their dream. Whether the kid is a good singer or not, today’s studio magic can do wonders for them.

But here’s the thing to remember; you get what you pay for. In the production industry today, especially in Los Angeles (where ARK is located) $2,000 is a somewhat nominal fee for a package including songwriting, full audio production, full video production, and legal rights to the song. If you pay only two grand for this package, the reality is you get an okay production of a shitty song that you own the rights to. It’s good for adding to a young person’s reel for a talent agency. And even ARK told Black’s parents that she likely wouldn’t get famous off this song/video. It’s almost as if they knew their production was awful. It turns out they were wrong (about the fame, not the suck), but there’s no way they could have predicted that.

When the popular television clip show Tosh.0 aired Black’s video, it caught on like wildfire. The viral nature of the Internet propelled this video to heights never anticipated by anyone involved. But for the wrong reasons. It caught on because it’s just so bad. And people have not been shy about coming down on this kid.

But let’s be honest here. What has Rebecca Black done wrong?

Did she sing poorly?
We don’t even know. The production on this song is horrendous. There is so much processing done on her voice that it’s really hard to tell. Was the Auto-Tune employed because the girl sang off-key? Or was it used because these producers feel it is “hip” among Black’s age group? We don’t know. After watching her sing a couple bars of the National Anthem on Good Morning America, I get the idea that the kid can carry a tune. Apparently she has even sung the Anthem in Angels Stadium. I don’t know the circumstances, but you generally don’t get that by sucking.

Did she write a terrible song?
No. She sang a terrible song written by two adult males.

Rebecca Black talks with Jay Leno on the Tonight Show

Should she have known going in that it was awful and asked for a different song?
Perhaps. But in fairness, the package her parents paid for allowed for a choice of two songs. The other song was about “adult love,” she said. Something she knows nothing about, therefore did not want to sing about. She already turned down the other, so she was apparently stuck with this one. Should her parents have intervened? Possibly. I don’t know how anyone could think this was good.

Does she deserve all the media attention she has received?
Based on the merits of this particular project, definitely not. But good for her, as an aspiring entertainer. She’s got global attention.

Does she deserve the scathing personal attacks she has received?
Definitely not. Saying that this is probably the worst song ever written is fine. Saying that you hope she gets an eating disorder so she becomes pretty is not. Neither is encouraging her to cut herself to death so you no longer need to hear her song. Making fun of the inane lyrics is perfectly fine. But please differentiate between this kid and the professionals who let her down.

…or did they?

As of this writing Black’s “Friday” video has almost 65,000,000 views on YouTube. The ad-share revenue from that alone is more than $30,000. “Friday” has been downloaded for pay 30,000 times. She has had radio airplay. Rebecca has been a featured guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Good Morning America. She has been parodied by Conan O’Brien and Nick Jonas. Ryan Seacrest has been really sweet to her and Simon Cowell wants to meet her. She may be famous for many of the wrong reasons right now, but she is famous. And it is most likely fleeting, but right now, she is the most talked about person in music. She charted on iTunes higher than Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. Chances are good that she’s just a fad. But all of this for $2000? Her parents got one hell of a deal.

The bottom line is this: Rebecca Black has not done anything wrong. She is a kid with some measure of talent that is trying to follow her dream. Her parents had means enough to get her started on something and it blew up. The song sucks. She didn’t write it. The adults in her life are running her world. Again — she’s a kid with a dream.

She’s a kid with a dream.

Make fun of the song all you want. I’m with you. It’s one of the worst songs produced, I think. But when it comes to personal attacks, give the kid a break.


UPDATE: Rebecca Black’s mother has said that the total cost of the production was $4000, made in two even payments. This ends up being a much more standard price. So the argument of “you get what you pay for” does not apply as strongly. However, $4000 should still get you better lyrics than “gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal.” Though this figure may be more appropriate for the service, it seems that ARK Music Factory didn’t really deliver.