Libertarian. Enjoys politics, technology, music, food and drink.
On Friday morning someone in my twitterfeed posted a link to a website called Is-It-Friday.com. I clicked the link and, given that it was indeed Friday, a video began playing. Seconds after the girl started singing, I was irritated by the song already. “FUN FUN FUN FUN” (one of the song’s lyrics) was trending globally and I couldn’t believe my ears. “That’s the most annoying song I’ve ever heard, but I feel obliged to carry on listening, because it’s Friday,” I tweeted before adding, “For some reason there’s something awful about girls being autotuned. Apart from Cher.” I ignored the other wealth of tweets about the song and forgot about it for the rest of the day.
I woke up on Saturday and there was something stuck in my head. It was kind of like Justin Bieber’s “Baby” but, as I’ve only heard that twice in my life and both times were a number of months ago, I knew it couldn’t have been that. Then I realised that instead of “Baby,” the lyric in my head was “Friday.” Should I listen to it again? I felt I needed to; perhaps I had misjudged it. So I loaded up the video and sat through an unbearable few minutes watching and listening to it. When I heard the “Yesterday was Thursday” lyric, I laughed at the absurdity of the words. I then realised I hadn’t really been listening to all of them. The song finished and I knew that I would have to listen to it again, this time paying attention to all of the lyrics.
So I listened again and enjoyed, in my hungover state, lines such as “Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal,” all the while listening with the intent to laugh at it. The problem was, the more times I listened, the more I wanted to listen again.
My initial problem was Rebecca Black’s annoying voice and the terrible lyrics. Her voice, however, very, very quickly transcends annoying and just becomes, in her own words, fun. The music is upbeat, bouncy and generally feel good pop. As for the lyrics, even if you are to assume that they are terrible, they are very catchy. To say nothing of the fact that Rebecca Black is 13 years old, what else is a thirteen year old supposed to sing about? Depression and melancholy? How many life experiences has a thirteen year old had? And this is where this song’s innocent charm comes in.
This song is, in its most pure and simple form, fun pop music. A trip over to ILX (and I highly recommend this thread for anyone with a few hours to kill) debates the song in more length than I doubt anyone else has done. Lex Pretend (Alex Macpherson), who is one of the Guardian’s music critics, describes this song in the greatest and most endearing level of detail. In a couple of his more analytic posts he says,
i like how the lyrics expose the inherent mundanity of stream-of-consciousness, it’s like…the brain in repose
in the entire breakfast section she doesn’t blink once, just the fixed stare and a monotone about cereal. capturing the true essence of all our mornings.
Anyone who has ever read or posted on ILX knows that the forum is partial to musical analysis at a depth that most couldn’t ever consider. And so if you think that these statements are a little over the top for a basic song then that’s fair enough. Yet these comments, and his subsequent comments break down celebrity, pop music and common pop conformity in remarkable detail.
Rebecca Black, so we are to understand, was given this music video as a present from her parents. Ark Music write a song for you, you sing it and act a little, and then they give you a music video. It is modern celebrity vanity under the most exaggerated of lenses, but for people to attack her for singing the “worst pop song ever” is horrendously unfair. Rebecca Black has unintentionally become the most talked about person on the planet. Everywhere you look, people are more than willing to tell her how bad she is, how insulting she is to music. Yet, she never wanted this. She wanted a taste of the glamour that the modern celebrity emits, and that was all. There are people doing far more disgusting and distasteful things, on a regular basis in aims of actually achieving celebrity status, than she has done. She just wanted to be in a music video. It’s no different from people throwing themselves in front of the iChat green screen or using one of those video karaoke machines to record yourself a song.
The cult of celebrity and the boredom of stream-of-consciousness is a worthwhile note for the sociologist, literary scholar or music geek, but ultimately what’s at play is the song itself. I find a lot of the people who hate it (and there’s no-one who simply dislikes it – people have taken it upon themselves to hate the song and her) are ignoring what is true here: this is one of the most catchy pop songs that has been released in years. Like all infectious pop songs, you’re going to hate it at the start, it’s going to be overplayed, and your gut instinct is to dismiss it for its incredulity and distaste. Yet after you’ve heard this a few times, there is little you can do but to love it. I have woken up for two days running with this song stuck in my head, and I imagine I will tomorrow.
The weekend will soon be over. It’s nine o’clock on Sunday, and I’m looking forward to Friday already. This is pop at its most authentic, at its catchiest and at its best.
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