The song retains the grain

You know, I wouldn’t blame her if she really couldn’t sing it anymore:

But that was good fun, and hey, the mousy little 13-year-old from the “Friday” video turned out Rule 5-worthy and then some. Recent shots of 19-year-old Rebecca Black:

Rebecca Black outside Time Inc. in New York

Rebecca Black's jeans are ripped

Rebecca Black goes all 80s

This latter shot she described as “my mom, circa 1983.”

And I’m not about to try to explain this:

Then again, it’s CVS. Perhaps no explanation is necessary.

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Among the greatest hits of all time

This might be an odd way to characterize “Friday,” the song that made Rebecca Black famous, considering it peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at #58 and has sold somewhere around half a million downloads but zero physical copies.

Then again, you probably remember these tracks, and they, too, never got above #58:

And despite having had the view counter reset once already (at about 166 million), “Friday” is closing in on a hundred million YouTube views:

Four days later:

This works out to about 2800 a day, and none of those days were a Friday. And if there are seven thumbs down for every two thumbs up, well, she gets paid just the same either way. I’m happy to attempt to pad out the count:

After which, I will of course look forward to the weekend.

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Why we look forward to the weekend

When there’s a new episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there’s a manic Fark thread to discuss it, and inevitably thread drift is measured on the tidal scale. This week’s thread produced an utterly irrelevant but sort of amusing graphic, of Lyra Heartstrings sitting in the back seat:

Lyra Heartstrings as Rebecca Black

Which proves, I suppose, that it’s possible to get down on Saturday, if you get up early enough.

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Forward to the weakened

The life of a supermarket checker is not always a happy one, and while some grocery operations frown on this sort of thing, I’d much rather go someplace where the store staff don’t appear to be Animatronic.

Saturday I was doing my usual weekly run, and in between whisking things from conveyor belt to bags, checker (curvy black girl) and sacker (skinny white dude) were cracking wise on the misery of their lifestyles, albeit with just enough grin to remind themselves, if not necessarily the baffled customers, that this is done as a rhetorical exercise, not as a cry for help. At some point, they apparently lost track of what day it was — was it Friday? Saturday? Those of us in regular nine-to-five jobs don’t even have to think about such things.

Finally, they decided it was in fact Saturday, and I piped up: “And Sunday comes afterwards.”

The checker, who couldn’t have been much more than nineteen, gave me an “I can’t believe you actually said that” look, but she was smiling just the same.

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And lo, down was gotten

You already know the story:

The bell tolls seven times and I arise;
my fast is broken with a bowl of gruel.

And twelve lines more, as Pop Sonnets takes on Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

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Sneaked in

Rebecca Black by now has done enough shoefies over the last few years, on Facebook and Instagram, to make it possible to identify her just from an ankle shot — providing she’s wearing Converse. This one from a couple years back testifies to her loyalty to Chuck Taylors:

Rebecca Black from here down in Converse high-tops

This one, however, threw me for a loop. She put this picture on Facebook with the tag “if only you knew how i took this”:

Rebecca Black from here down in Converse low-cuts

Phone in her third hand, am I right?


Assuming she did take it herself, I’m thinking the most plausible explanation — I’ve worked with timers, and you never get yourself back into position exactly the way you wanted to be — is that one of those two hands actually belongs to someone else, and I see what I think is just enough disparity in wrist diameter to confirm.

Oh, and one more thing:

Make that two more things:

After three years, it still elicits the giggle.

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Desperate for attention

This is about two steps below clutching at straws:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is it worth it to pay $6000 to get famous?

Why $6000, exactly?

I want to pay $6000 to Ark Music Factory (Just like what rebecca black did) so they can help me produce a song and release it on their channel and I will become famous. I am not very good at singing but I think this is a great way to become famous. However, my parents are poor and we are on food stamps but they will be willing to sacrifice everything for my music career.

Update: they will be willing to do it, even if they have to starve for a few days.

Not sure if trolling or simply out of touch with reality. I did point out that what happened to Rebecca Black will not necessarily happen for anyone else.

And anyone who’s on food stamps should know that six grand is more than a few days’ worth.

Addendum: Last I heard, Patrice Wilson, who produced “Friday,” was asking $6500 for his services.

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Not diving from the fourteenth floor

I have an occasional tendency to drop into a random page in the archives and then read a couple weeks’ worth, just to refresh the memory and see if my thinking has changed in the interim.

Which in no way inspired Rebecca Black to sit through the original video of “Friday”:

Well, most of it, anyway.

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Don’t think once, it’s all right

For some reason known but to Pat Garrett and/or Billy the Kid, Rolling Stone is asking “What is Bob Dylan’s worst song?”

“Worst?” you ask. Then again, not all eleventy-hundred known Dylan compositions are as good as “Forever Young” or “Tangled Up in Blue” or especially “Like a Rolling Stone,” so if there are Best Songs, there must be Worst Songs, right?

My first impulse was to name “All the Tired Horses,” the lead-off track from Self-Portrait, which has two lines of words, one line of humming, and almost no actual Dylan presence. But then, this is a track I actually sing along with when it comes up in the rotation, so I can’t very well call it Worst. So I figured I’d go to something unsingable, the endless (8:33) “Hurricane,” Dylan’s 1975 attempt to raise awareness of the case of boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, then serving time for a triple murder. Ten years later, Carter was freed; Dylan had been right all along. But the song is a screechy screed, a testimonial to Tom Lehrer’s insistence that “it don’t matter if you put a couple of extra syllables into a line,” containing lines like “We want to put his ass in stir / We want to pin this triple mur- / Der on him / He ain’t no Gentleman Jim.”

And since I’m in a Zimmermanesque mode, here are two reworkings of “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” one by the (former) Raving Atheist based on a book by Dawn Eden, and one by Replacer based on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Maybe this was Dylan’s best song: it’s not easy to cover, even if you’re as brilliant as “Weird Al” Yankovic, which of course you’re not.

Then there’s “Friday,” best known in its late-2010 recording by Rebecca Black. Dylan is credited as the composer on his own recording (Columbia 45409), which inevitably spawned a cover by the Byrds, who’d been successful with Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” and would later record his “My Back Pages.” (Dylan, according to these sources, also wrote Black’s second hit, “My Moment.”)

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Switching lanes

How low-budget was the video for “Friday”? It was shot at Rebecca Black’s home in Anaheim Hills, with prop expenditures of approximately zero.

Except that while announcing that the family is moving out, she admitted that the bus stop was fake.

I think I speak for everyone here when I say “Duh.”

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Think about fun

You know what it is, and the UK’s Intellectual Property Office has been looking into the oft-maligned art of parody. Some of their conclusions:

Parody is a significant consumer activity: On average, there are 24 user-generated parodies available for each original video of a charting single. 25% are target parodies, 31% are weapon parodies and 21% are self-parodies (where the parody maker criticised themselves).

YouTube, asked for “rebecca black friday parody,” claimed 316,000 results. It only seems like that many.

The potential for reputational harm in the observed sample is limited: Only 1.5% of all parodies sampled took a directly negative stance. This is where Rebecca Black’s “Friday” comes in. While there was a “disproportionately negative response from parodists”, the empirical evidence suggested that even highly negative parodies did not harm the original work. It is advantageous to a video to attract parodies, even critical ones.

If the makers of all those “316,000” parodies of “Friday” watched it only once, that’s still a tidy sum for RB.

There exists a small but growing market for skilled user-generated content: Parody videos located in this study generated up to £2 million in revenue for Google in 2011, a portion of which was shared with the creators.

I’ve mentioned this up before. It remains the one “Friday” parody I actually paid to add to the collection:

A definite Palpatine with cheese.

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This seat’s taken

Contagious: Why Things Catch On is the title of a new book by Jonah Berger, assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School, and one of the reasons things catch on, he says, is the presence of triggers: events or cultural phenomena that remind us of those things. This being Friday, which trigger do you think is being pulled? Right you are:

Citing Rebecca Black’s song “Friday” as an example, Berger illustrates the influence of triggers in the sharing of information.

“It’s not that the song is better on Friday — it’s equally bad every day of the week, but Fridays are a little environmental reminder, what I call a trigger … to encourage people to talk about it and share it,” he said.

And Professor Berger just might be right about that particular trigger; “Friday” video views tend to spike between Thursday (yesterday) and Saturday (tomorrow).

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Real live Rebecca Black

There was apparently an upsurge in death rumors again, but no, you can’t get rid of that “Friday” girl that easily. Lots of folks at her Sunday concert at House of Blues in Anaheim, one of whom shot this highly unofficial video:

This was the debut of “Take Me Away,” which will presumably be on the oft-delayed album. Also on the set list: “In Your Words,” the current single; a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team”; future album track “Carried Away”.

And, oh yes, this was the finale:

Rebecca has often spoken of rearranging “Friday,” but I never imagined it as reggae.

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Friday vindication

If you can’t quite bend your mind around the phrase “Headlining Artist: Rebecca Black,” perhaps you need to flex a bit: RB’s first-ever West Coast concert, at the House of Blues Anaheim, is the 23rd of December, and tickets ($17.50 advance, $20 at the door) go on sale today.

And because it’s Friday, let’s mention “Friday,” and cowriter/producer Patrice Wilson, who made all this possible in his own way. Wilson has now surfaced with a song about, of all things, next Thursday:

He may be a one-trick pony, but it’s a fun trick. (Thanks to Nancy Friedman, who was happy to pass it on to me.)

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Thumbs counted

One of the more remarkable qualities of Rebecca Black’s original “Friday” video was the vast number of dislikes it received during its period of greatest virality (viralness? viralitude?), in the spring of 2011. The video was pulled after 160 million views or so, and then reposted on RB’s own channel. It’s still widely hated, I noticed today, and then decided to run a comparison with her later singles. The numbers:

  • “Friday”: 41436726 views; 205923 likes, 848917 dislikes (4.12 times as many dislikes as likes)
  • “My Moment”: 36157662 views; 401292 likes, 664306 dislikes (1.66)
  • “Person of Interest”: 7396022 views; 73564 likes, 134012 dislikes (1.82)
  • “Sing It”: 2084809 views: 43689 likes, 22560 dislikes (0.52)

Essentially, this restates the obvious: the fanbase remains loyal, while everyone else eventually moved on. But for the sake of completeness, I must note that during the 3:48 I devoted to one more view of “Friday,” four more opinions were expressed — and three of them were positive. Then again, so far as I know, YouTube pays on views, not on thumbs.

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Sad songs say so much

It was Elton John’s idea — okay, technically Bernie Taupin’s, though it took John to reify it — that when you’re feeling down in the dumps, those old, depressing songs actually help.

Which may or may not explain why so many more of them are being written these days:

Researchers from Canada and Germany report pop music recordings have become progressively more “sad-sounding” over time, as characterized by slower tempos and increased use of minor mode — that is, scales that evoke the same feelings one experiences when pondering orphan puppies or long-weekend gas prices.

The study found the proportion of minor-mode songs has fully doubled since the mid-1960s.

And this shift is apparently in response to popular demand:

“Many people assume pop music is banal in its happiness. But most songs now are actually in minor key,” says lead author Glenn Schellenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. “Composers write in minor because it sounds smarter on some levels, and more complicated. And consumers like it for the same reason — although I don’t think that’s conscious.”

For some of them it might be, though I’m pretty sure I knew nothing from key signatures when I discovered pop radio by way of Del Shannon’s “Runaway,” which was written in A minor, though the recording comes out closer to B-flat, suggesting that the producers sped up the tape just a little, a common practice in the early 1960s.

There is, of course, precedent from days gone by:

“The baroque and classical eras were consistent in terms of their cues to happiness and sadness: faster pieces tended to be major and slower pieces tended to be minor,” says Schellenberg, recalling the musical periods between 1600 and 1820. “But in the Romantic era [1820 to 1900] that switched, creating mixed emotional cues.”

And I do love my mixed emotional cues.

The study is being published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. Despite the fact that it’s Sunday, I think I’ll go crank up Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” which, not incidentally, is in B major, so sunny a key you might not want to walk on it.

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Is it Friday yet?

While you check on that, here’s this week’s Rebecca Black update.

A firm called Visual Measures has developed an algorithm for determining a video’s, um, virulence; “Friday,” they say, is the third most successful viral video ever, beaten out only by Susan Boyle’s appearance on Britain’s Got Talent and the “Kony 2012” promotion.

Seemingly tangential: In 1997, I put up the very first Web fan page for singer/songwriter Carolyne Mas, now retired and living in Arizona. She’s still communicating with the fanbase, though, and recently she turned up a box of tapes, which she’s busily sending up to her YouTube channel. Recently, she reported on a batch:

These are demos I did in 1987 with Charlton Pettus who is currently with Tears for Fears, and who went on to produce Reason Street in 1992, while he was playing with Sinead O’Connor. He was the acoustic guitar player who sat behind her when she was booed off the stage at MSG … remember that? He flew to Germany to meet me right after that.

Which gave me an excuse to dig out Reason Street myself. Like all her European recordings, it’s worth hunting down. Inexplicably, Pettus doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, though I will tell you here that he produced the “My Moment” and “Person of Interest” singles — he also cowrote “POI” — for Rebecca Black. The fellow’s tastes evidently run fairly close to my own.

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Inspiration for a Friday

In case you’d like to hear some Friday-related songs besides the one we promote here seemingly every week, Delaney McDonough of Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School, south of Albany, New York, has a small playlist for you, complete with videos.

The one song she mentions I hadn’t heard before was NSYNC’s “Just Got Paid,” from their album No Strings Attached, which opens with this line: “Thank God it’s Friday night and I just-just-just-just-juuuuuuust got paid!” Things evidently were happening faster in 2000 than in, say, 1956, when Little Richard announced that it was Saturday night and he just got paid.

Of course, the only person who ever got all his work done by Friday was Robinson Crusoe:

Perhaps we should leave it at that.

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From the “Spoke Too Soon” files

Well, so much for my capacity for prediction. Last week in this space I speculated that the new Rebecca Black video, being shot that week in Malibu, was for the oft-rumored remake of “Friday.”

BZZZZZZZT! Wrong. I managed to overlook this tweet which identifies the new song as “Sing It.” The video has wrapped and will be up, she says, “pretty soon.” And while I don’t have the key to the Wikipedia lock, someone’s already updated her Wiki page with the new title.

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Fridays to come

Malibu beachThe last Rebecca Black report of 2011 mentioned that she was planning a remake — a re-imaging, if you prefer — of “Friday,” the very song that made her semi-famous, and said that she wanted it “to sound we’re on the beach with friends, someone’s got a guitar, there’s drums.”

So when the above shot of Malibu showed up in her tweetstream with a reference to “filming the new video,” well, I can put two and Tuesday together. Maybe.

Outside of, um, work, she reports that she tried her hand at archery, and, “well, let’s just say Katniss would be disappointed.”

Along those lines, there exists a Hunger Games District 12 Bow, probably not suitable for actual archery, and bearing a California Prop 65 warning. Evidently it causes cancer or something.

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