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Rebecca Black’s Friday & The Death Of Parody In Pop

Topics: Music | 3 CommentsBy admin | March 17, 2011

Is Ark Music Factory helping accelerate the demise of parody in pop and destroy the wall between professional and user-generated content?

One of the more important recent events in contemporary pop music took place February 10, 2011. That was the day that the video Friday by Rebecca Black (also below) was uploaded to YouTube. If you haven’t seen it yet or heard about it, I only suggest you watch it so you can experience the discomforting cognitive dissonance it generates. It’s a unique feeling. At first you’ll be like “Bleh. Another cute but prepackaged, overly-autotuned young pop star being launched“. Then, early in the song, she says the word “Friday” the way she says it for the first time. While you’re busy marveling at the new vowel she’s invented (it’s somewhere between “i” and “e” mixed with the sound of a dying bunny), you’ll first start having trouble identifying what level of production quality is being presented. Yes, that’s fairly solid camera work and editing, and the audio is punchy and cleanly mixed. But those “extras”… those must be her friends, right? At some point you’ll wonder if this is some clever Onion.com parody, and start waiting for the punchline. Then you’ll realize it isn’t coming, and suddenly the song ends, and you’ll be like “wait, WHAT? OH MY GOD THAT WASN’T A JOKE”. If you’ve ever been in a rollover car accident, you’ll briefly relive that feeling that something terrible has just happened, but you’re okay, and almost laugh at how you just tempted fate and defeated it. I’m not sure if I’m exaggerating. The reason I said at the top that this song is such an important event was that it has accomplished the amazing feat of forever breaching that crumbling wall between professional and user-generated content in pop music in a way that no one really has before. This has happened with most other media and subcultures; I’ve talked before about the Death Of Meta-Ironic Hipsterism and The Death & Rebirth Of Political Meta-Satire As Quantum Comedy for instance. But so far, in spite of a decade of American Idol and websites like mp3.com and MySpace Music, no one has so successfully destroyed this line between “celebrity” and “nobody” with such carefree naivete, such oblivious indifference. For the record, Rebecca didn’t do this on her own; she’s a partially self-created product, but the other part of the partial was created by Ark Music Factory, a production house that seems to be cashing in on the same parents that sign their kids up for beauty pageants at age three. In spite of the genuine hat tip I offer to Rebecca Black for being in the right place at the right time, Ark Music Factory seems like an evil entity designed to destroy youth by deceiving them into pursuing hollow and unachievable dreams by selling them their own naivete and self-obsession. I would bet that half of these kids will be in rehab or thrice-weekly therapy by the age of 22. I mean, watching this Ark Music Factory promotional video gives me the same sick feeling inside that I got in third grade when I watched my nerdy friend get bullied during recess and acted like I didn’t know him. And I know, you may be thinking “Oh c’mon. This is just one of those meme thingies I’m always hearing about“. Well, I might have agreed a few weeks ago, but as of this writing the video has more than 13 million views (double that of Radiohead’s recent Lotus Flower), there’s talk of a tour, and the song has made the top 100 on iTunes. Oh. And a spinoff. The “girl in pink with the awkward dances” has a Tumblr. More video clips below.

Here’s Rebecca Black’s Friday

Watching this Ark Music Factory promotional video gives me the same sick feeling inside that I got in third grade when I watched my nerdy friend get bullied during recess and acted like I didn’t know him:

And this video is probably even more disturbing. Here’s this girl, CathyMay15. Cute as Rebecca, and probably just as talented. No autotune, no expensive LA video gloss. Or wait. Is it satire? I can’t tell…

But in this world where pop music is indistinguishable from satire of itself, there’s a review of CathyMay15 available:

Read Comments

  1. Posted by Terry Osterhout on 03.18.11 3:56 pm

    Great piece. I am fascinated. Finally watched the music video after seeing how passionate people got when I re-posted the article on Facebook.

  2. Posted by admin on 03.18.11 4:58 pm

    It’s fascinating right? I can’t believe the childishly critical spin the story gets; the kid is thirteen, and those view numbers are staggering. I wonder just how prepared the (probably exploitative) production company was for this, and if they’ll get more scrutiny than they have… and how Rebecca and her OC pals will handle it.

  3. Posted by Getting Unstuck | dissociatedpress.com on 03.22.11 8:25 am

    [...] track, but at least he’s taking action. Let’s just hope he had permission to use the much talked about songĀ  Friday by Rebecca [...]