Over the weekend, you may have noticed a video making the rounds of a teenage girl smiling very unconvincingly and singing a song expressing highly unnatural enthusiasm for the approaching weekend. The girl is named Rebecca Black and the song is called “Friday,” and the entire experience is so absolutely surreal that the internet was forced to stand up and take notice, with the video racking up over two million hits on YouTube and “Rebecca Black” becoming a trending topic on Twitter. If you’ve managed to avoid it until now, you certainly won’t last much longer, so you may as well check it out in all its bizarro-world splendor here:
What’s so noteworthy about the video? It’s not so much that it’s that bad per se—it’s certainly not good, but it’s done professionally enough that at least you can’t mock it for straight-up poor production values. It’s just that there’s a rather gaping disparity between the message the video is attempting to get across (sunshine, freedom, exuberance, fun fun fun fun) and the message actually being conveyed (alienation, existential angst, possibly some kind of purgatorial entrapment). It’s possible that if Miss Black had done a better job in the video of selling the song’s absurd-in-both-senses-of-the-word lyrics debating the crisis of passenger seat choice and breaking down Friday’s place in the natural order of the week (to wit: After Thursday, but before Saturday, with Sunday coming afterwards), the song might be merely subpar, but the Cheery But Clearly Dying Inside demeanor adopted by her and all her friends/prison mates takes the thing to levels of dread-inducing hilarity, heretofore unseen on the internet.
So, who is Rebecca Black, and is she even slightly for real? Well, sort of—she’s a legit teenage girl, and not some forty-year-old dadaist in dimpled disguise, but she’s also the product of the too-well-oiled machine known as the Ark Music Factory. In the spirit of old-school investigative journalism, Gabe Meline of Bohemian.com did an excellent job piecing the company’s story together through net clippings and similarly-nutso YouTubes of their work, which you should certainly read as soon as you’re all right with having your brain fried for the remainder of the afternoon.
In essence, Ark is a production-for-hire company, consisting of would-be pop moguls Patrice Wilson and Clarence Jey, that offers teenage girls the chance to turn into Selena Gomez for the weekend. They fly them out to L.A., familiarize them one of Ark’s assembly-line songs (all of which feel like pop music that has been run back and forth between Babel Fish translations a few dozen times), and create a YouTube-ready video for the song with which they can dazzle their friends and family and possibly catch the attention of some industry bigwig. None of the 13- to 17-year-olds on their artist roster had broken out until “Friday” officially went viral, though the song’s surge in popularity was likely for reasons different than Black, Wilson and Jey intended.
Is this the last we’ll be hearing from Black and Ark, or the start of a phenomenon much bigger and scarier than anyone involved could have possibly imagined? Hard to say, but at least the catatonia-inducing nature of “Friday” ensures that Loverboy’s status as your local classic rock station’s work-release artist of choice is safe for another week.