If you haven’t heard the song that’s tearing up YouTube entitled, “Friday” by Rebeca Black, then congratulations, you have a deeply fulfilling life.
The rest of us aren’t so lucky. “Friday” is, in my mind, fairly standard in terms of the pop music that is targeted toward teens these days. Yet it seems that the rest of the internet thinks this is the worst song in the history of recorded music. I don’t think it’s a good song, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call it the damnation of mankind that others have. I think its equally bad when compared with other songs that make me want to gouge out my eardrums with a q-tip, so lets get our comparison on.
I’d say that “Friday” is comparable to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA;” although ‘Friday’ is probably supposed to bring the teens to the dance floor, I’d guess that ‘Party’ is something that hangs out in the background – until Old Navy licenses it for a Fourth of July sale commercial. Other terrible songs that ‘Friday’ is worthy of being compared to includes (but not limited to) “Vertigo” by U2, “Beautiful Day” by U2 (to save time, lets just say anything U2 recorded after 1993), Eddie Murphy’s “Party All the Time,” and the list goes on.
Oh and speaking of crappy songs aimed at the kids, “Step By Step,” a New Kids On The Block jam, is obviously about coercing a woman to have sex – which either makes it an awful song or one of the greatest songs EVER WRITTEN. But that’s a blog for another day. Still, it’s superior to Brian McKnight’s “Your Like A Dream Come True” which features the lyrics:
One: you’re like a dream come true
Two: just wanna be with you
Three: girl its plain to see that you’re the only one for me and…
Four: repeat step one through three
[record scratches] What? “Repeat steps one through three?” You lazy son of a bitch! You couldn’t even be bothered to come up with five unique steps, only four? (Step 5 is something about ‘make you fall in love with me.’ The use of the word ‘make’ is troubling, to say the least!)
I suppose it would be worthwhile to compare ‘Friday’ to other songs produced by Ark Music Factory, and most notably, ‘Butterflies‘ is a much better tune in every possible way (even the production on the video is better, if not weirder – what’s with the teacher?), but that’s akin to comparing one slice of pizza to another from the same pie. Anyway, I’ll get to Ark later.
Let’s get back on track here and take a closer look at ‘Friday’ in its entirety.
Song Writing and Lyrics:
In terms of song writing, ‘Friday’ is juvenile and lazy, but at least I can understand what she’s saying and it makes sense – there is a great deal of ‘Party in the USA’ where I have no idea what Hannah Montana is going on about, but then, for me, that’s sort of the best of both worlds… [ba-doom-crash]
Yesterday is ThursdayToday is FridayTomorrow is SaturdayAnd Sunday comes afterwords
See what I mean? Sure, its an AWFUL lyric, but all you can really do is shake your head and say, “I can’t argue with that.” If today is Friday, then, by default, tomorrow must be Saturday, and as we all know, Sunday does in fact come afterwords. Essentially, this little break in the song is like a course in basic logic.
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend
I think she’s probably right about that. Even the kids who like school are probably ready for a break by Friday. So uhm, yeah. In related news, the sky is blue, grass is green and sand comes in a variety of shades, ranging from yellow to off-white.
Beyond the lyric’s path of reason and if-then schematics, we also get to see how Rebecca Black tackles her morning routine:
Seven a.m., waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal
Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’
Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends
Nothing too exciting happening; maybe if something happened here instead of nothing (The cereal could be stale, she could be out of cereal, she could trip on the way to the bus stop and all of her ‘friends’ laugh…), it would be a better song, but I get the impression that Rebecca Black didn’t write the song in the first place – we’ll get to that in a minute.
Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?
I’m sure we all remember how turbulent the teen years of our lives were (And if you’re a teen now, I feel sorry for you, because you’re facing challenges I never could have dreamed of… cyber bulling? Shizzy-lickets, that’s some crazy shiz!); just a lot going on, your brain is literally not finished developing – I’d forgotten what a pain in the ass being a teenager was. If trying to decide which seat you have to sit in is the hardest part of your day, consider yourself lucky. On the other hand, I’m sure we all remember the social consequences of where we sat in classrooms, cafeterias, and of course, buses. Oh, and where to sit in your thirteen year old friend’s convertible. Man, that was a tough decision for me to make way back when!
Vocal Ability and Diction:
It’s fair to say that Ms. Black’s vocal performance isn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever heard, but then, people are using live auto tune processing these days, so it’s hard to harp on her too much for that and after all, it’s pop music – I don’t think anybody really tunes into to pop music to appreciate the immense talent of the artist. Again, going back to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA,” during which I can hardly understand what she’s saying – what the hell comes after, “Throw my hands up, playing my song?” But admittedly, Ms. Cyrus gives a much better vocal performance than Ms. Black could ever hope to. And what’s with the weird articulation on the word ‘Friday?” It sounds like she’s chewing on the word, like one of my dogs ripping the cover off a baseball.
The video is… actually, from a production standpoint, it’s a pretty good video. It’s well edited, has nice image quality, the shots have nice composition, the sync with the music is good, the camera moves are nice, the lighting is not great, but it’s decent… I can’t figure out what 13 year old kids are doing driving convertibles… but beyond that, it’s a solid little video.
Impressions of Rebeca Black:
Not much to say here; obviously she’s not a great singer, and she either wasn’t given the opportunity or can’t dance, and in pop music, that counts. If you’re going to compare teenage pop stars, you pretty much have to hold them to the highest standard there is, and that’s a young Michael Jackson of the Jackson Five, and… well, it’s not worth going into that comparison.
Impressions of Ark Music Factory:
My understanding is that if you give Ark $2000 bucks, they’ll let you choose from a few pre-written songs, record that song with you and then produce a companion music video. I believe they also provide the guy who raps (badly) as a… bonus, I guess. He’s their in-house MC… can you imagine going to the water cooler at work and that guy is there, just rapping all the time? “Hey Jamie/See you’re here getting some water/Could I introduce you to my daughter?/She needs a date for the big dance/We think you deserve a chance!/But remember-” At that point, I’d just punch him in the face. Whatever, I’d rather go to prison than have to work with that guy and his cliche rapping one more day… (Sorry, lost track of reality for a second there.)
In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ark was charging $2000 for just the video production, never mind song writing and recording. Ever done any video editing? It’s a pain in the ass, not to mention shooting the video. (And you know what’s an even bigger pain in the ass? Mixing recorded audio. For me, editing video is a labor of love, but mixing audio is the product of the God Damn DEVIL. It’s tedious as hell and I suck at it. HARD. So whatever the guy who is mixing the audio gets paid, it’s not enough – unless he gets to keep all of the $2000 for himself.) Sure, the song is poorly written, but the sound quality is OK, so they must have decent recording gear… this stuff is not free, so to those that insist Rebecca Black got ripped off, I don’t agree. I bet the recording and filming process was fun for Ms. Black… although having thousands of people tell you they think you suck via the internet probably isn’t that much fun.
The thing that shocks me the most about the entire Ark Music Factory catalog that’s out there is the shocking lack of parental accountability. Once you buy an experience like this for your kid, you have to realize that if their wheels weren’t already turning about being a famous teen pop star, they are now. I mean, let’s be honest: if a kid has legit talent, they’d be out there, winning competitions, going on auditions and would not be relying on layers upon layers of auto tune. That is not the case with Ark’s client base, so we seem to have wandered into an area of self published music, much like self published novels, which are almost always awful. But that’s fine, I don’t have any problem with self publishing, but when it’s a kid… I’m not sure it is ever a good idea for kids to be involved in this sort of venture, whether as a signed or self published artist. Again, being a teen is a pain in the ass, and frankly, if you ask a kid, “You want to go to school or try to be a teen pop sensation?” Which one of those options do you think the kid is going to pick? Kids can’t make that decision for themselves; the parents need to be involved. Giving Ark $2000 for the package was one thing, but putting it on YouTube for the world to see… this probably wasn’t a good idea. If you go onto the internet and invite people into your life, believe me, they’re going to show up, and odds are, the evil internet trolls are going to make ‘telling it like it is’ look like ‘constructive criticism.’ I bet you’ve been to a little league game and seen a kid swing at a ball right down the middle and miss, then the coach said, “Good swing,” and you’re thinking, “What? That kid sucks.” Except you thought it, right? That’s not how it works on the internet. Sure, most people still think the criticism, but there is a much greater percentage of people who will tell you in no uncertain terms that, ‘YOU SUCK, YOU’RE THE WORST HITTER/SINGER EVER, EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM IS NOW DUMBER FOR HAVING WITNESSED THIS; I AWARD YOU NO POINTS AND MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL.’ (That’s right, they’ll work movie quotes into their insults.)
Yeah, that’s what tends to happen on the internet; even if you do something well, there’s still a bunch of trolls who will show up and tear you to shreds. Imagine what its like when you actually do suck? It’s happening to Ms. Black right now. Still, she’s not the worst ever, but she’s on my list somewhere between, “Party all the time,” and “Hello, hello! Hola! There’s a place called vertigo! Donde esta? It’s everything i wish i didn’t know. You give me something, I can feel. Yeah Yeah Yeah…”
On second thought, “Vertigo” is probably worse than “Friday.” Suck on that, Bono.