You remember Rebecca Black, right? Of course you do. For a while in 2011, she was everywhere. You couldn’t escape her song, “Friday”, which was played constantly after going viral. It was described as the worst song in the world. People thought it was the most hilarious but also the most tragic thing that they had ever heard. We all came together to mock this so-called song and music video, both of which were equally bad.
It wasn’t just the overuse of autotune. It wasn’t just the way that she both spoke and sung the words. It wasn’t just the weird and way too literal music video. It wasn’t just the lyrics, which weren’t exactly written by a genius. It was a combination of all of it together, and the cherry on top was the revelation that her parents had paid for Rebecca to record the single and video as a vanity project.
We may have enjoyed mocking her, but time passed and she began to fade out of memory. Well, kind of. She has resurfaced time and again with various different projects, and is now at last starting to release music which actually sounds like it was recorded in a real studio, not the one that Tenacious D use in the ‘Tribute’ video. Since she’s coming back around again, we scoured the internet to pick up 15 interesting things that you didn’t know about Rebecca Black. Some of them may well surprise you, as there’s more to her than meets the eye.
15. She Left School Due To Bullying… Twice
When she was 11, Rebecca was being bullied by a group of ‘mean girls’ at her school. The situation got so bad that her parents decided to take action. They pulled her out of the school and sent her to a new private school instead. That’s why it can’t have been easy when her video went viral and she was mocked as one of the worst singers in the world. She ended up being bullied even more than previously, with the situation becoming so awful that she dropped out of her high school and opted for home-schooling instead. When it seemed like everything had died down she went back to a new school, but then faced bullying again. Incidents included toilet paper being thrown over her house and her locker being filled with milk. This time, though, she stuck it out to graduation, with the help of a small core group of friends who realized she was just a normal person like them.
14. The Video Was Around For A Month Before Going Viral
The video was posted up on YouTube, and for around a month, there wasn’t much activity. It got around 1000 views, which was pretty decent for a complete nobody. That in itself was probably quite exciting. But there wasn’t any expectation for it to go further. After all, this was a vanity project. After a month, she probably wasn’t even checking the view count anymore – the fun was over and now it was just something that she had done last month. But that was when a couple of big entertainment sites picked up on it and posted it for their followers. From there, it went viral, amassing millions of views in just a few days. No one was prepared for that kind of reaction, or saw it coming in any way. There was no campaign to advertise it or get it seen – it just happened, all by itself.
13. She Got Into A Heavy Legal Dispute
As soon as the video went viral, Rebecca and her family were drawn into a legal dispute over who owned the copyright. ARK Music Factory had supplied the song, helped her to record it, and produced the video all for a $4000 charge. At the time, they were under the impression that the copyright would be transferred to Rebecca, as this was the agreement they had made. They should also have had full possession of the master copy. However, ARK quickly decided that they wanted a piece of the royalties. There was an ongoing dispute which saw the video get taken down, then put up again behind a paywall, then taken down again, and finally put back up on Rebecca’s own account. The legal issues behind the video unfortunately meant that it lost a lot of stats, thus losing the chance to break some records or become easier to find.
12. The Video Had 3 Million Dislikes
At one point, before it was taken down the first time, the video did break a YouTube record. It had 3 million dislikes. That’s a huge amount, especially considering that this all happened during a short period of time. While it’s kind of a funny statistic which underlines the low quality of the viral hit, it looks less funny when you see it from Rebecca’s perspective. Imagine filming something which you didn’t even think anyone would ever see, and then having more than 3 million people from around the world tell you that they dislike you. It would have been very easy for this to cause heavy mental strain, and the fact that she still seems like a normal and happy girl is a testament to her strength of character. Many people don’t tend to think about the person behind the content when posting comments or disliking videos on YouTube, but a real person did create it and will feel hurt by what they read.
11. She Has Two Lost Albums
There have been two separate occasions when Rebecca announced to the press that she was going to release an album, but the deal then fell through and nothing came of it. The first one was immediately following the viral breakthrough of “Friday”. She was recording the album in late 2011 but it fell through when the immediate storm over the video started to drop away – the producers were no longer willing to take a bet that she would be able to see the same level of exposure with a full album. Again in April 2015 she announced an album, but that also never came to fruition. She recently released a couple of singles from what will be her third promised album, so we’ll have to wait and see whether the full selection of songs actually does get published this time. By this stage, you would have thought that she would keep the album secret until it was a sure thing.
10. She’s Now A YouTube Star
Instead of fading into obscurity when her first attempts at following ‘Friday’ didn’t go as well as planned, Rebecca ended up finding a new niche. Although it was on YouTube where she got so much hate for her first video, she ended up deciding to go ahead and become a vlogger. She fired her manager, who by that point had proven to be worse than useless, and started posting YouTube videos under her own steam. She has managed to gather quite a following through this method, and even moved in with a fellow YouTuber who she met through the network. She talks about a variety of subjects on her channel, including how to deal with bullies – allowing her to become a role model for younger kids and teens who are going through adversity themselves. This has also allowed her to retain a following, which is good news considering she waited to work on new music until after graduating high school.
9. She Was Just 13
Did we mention that all of this happened to a girl who was stupidly young? Rebecca was just 13 years old when ‘Friday’ went viral. Can you imagine being a 13-year-old girl who just wanted to pretend to be a singer for a day, only to have the whole world turn around and tell you how awful you are? Granted, the song was very annoying, and nothing about it was done well. But it must have been a lot to take in for someone who was only just old enough to be called a teenager. Add in the stress and hormones coursing through her body at that age from natural causes, and it would have been a very difficult way to grow up. That was long enough ago that she is now 20, and seems to have learned to deal with it while remaining down to earth and maturing.
8. She Has Dropped Autotune
You’ll be pleased to know that Rebecca’s latest musical efforts are not at all anything like the awful autotuned “Friday”. She was able to demonstrate back in 2011 that she had the makings of a decent singing voice, although it required training and discipline to get it into good shape. Maturity had also deepened her voice, which definitely makes it less annoying. When she releases music now, she is determined to stay away from autotuned. She has even done videos on YouTube where she sings a cappella or directly into the camera, showing clearly that there is no editing on her voice. This was definitely a wise move for the singer, unlike her early attempts to have another hit, which ended poorly. It seems her management team at the time wanted to capitalize on “Friday” by releasing song after song which was nearly identical. This didn’t wash with the public.
7. ARK Ended Up Going Under
The endless dispute between Rebecca and her family and the ARK team was ugly. It showed a side to the music industry that many aspiring stars don’t realize is there – the splitting of copyright amongst so many people that the artists actually end up with a much lower cut of the costs than it seems. Eventually, a deal was worked out so that ARK benefitted from the sales and YouTube views. It didn’t do them any good, however, as it tarnished the name of the company irreparably. The two central players at ARK, who were involved in the disputes in a very public way, both ended up splitting from the company and going their separate ways. These days, the company is defunct, with the contact page on their website changed to an ominous message about how users can delete their accounts. It was an ignominious end to a company that successfully gained more of a profit than they were really entitled to.
6. She Resisted Deleting The Video
At first, there were a lot of negative comments on the video, including people telling Rebecca to go die or kill herself. Her mother suggested that they take the video down so that she did not have to face any more attention. Rebecca surprised her, however, by insisting that the video stay up. “She said, ‘No, it’s my right to have my video up there. Why should I have to take my video down?’” Her mother, Georgina Marquez, has since said of the incident. “And that was the moment that did it for me. From that point on I was like, ‘You go, girl. We got this.'” Rebecca even suggested that the idea of taking it down was insulting, as if she wasn’t strong enough to deal with a few bullies calling her names. She had been through that before, and it had given her a thick enough skin to endure a little more.
5. The Combined Views Are Staggering
Because the video was taken down and then put up again later with a fresh slate, the view count started from 0 again. If the legal issues had not taken place, Rebecca might have a much stronger place in YouTube history. It has close to a shared 300 million views across the two official versions. During the several months in which it was taken down from YouTube, that number would no doubt have been much higher – over 100 million of those are on the newer version, which was put up some time after everyone had more or less stopped caring. In the current world of viral videos the figures are now usually much higher, but back then, it was a huge number and should have gained her more recognition and more reward than it ended up doing. For comparison, in 2010, Justin Bieber set the record for most-viewed YouTube video of all time at just 245 million views, and he still held that record when ‘Friday’ went viral.
4. She Would Have Been #1 Two Years Later
Rebecca was a bit of an unfortunate victim of the changes in the music industry at the time. Things hadn’t quite caught up with the fact that people were now getting most of their music online. In 2011, streaming was not included in the count of sales to determine the charts. In 2013, just two years later, an examination of the statistics revealed that “Friday” would have easily shot to #1 on the Billboard charts. This would have been enough to just about guarantee her a record deal, and give her the chance to propel her career forward from that point. It’s a cruel twist of fate that she went viral way too early to take real advantage of the benefits we now know today. She actually earned very little from the song – not millions of dollars as has been suggested, but rather hundreds of thousands, and that was shared with ARK.
3. She Didn’t Want The Video Published
It turns out that Rebecca and her parents never wanted the video to be published. They expected that it would be something private for themselves to watch – the fact that it was recorded in their own home is probably one of the reasons behind this. But ARK went ahead and put the video on their YouTube channel without asking permission. It was here that it was discovered by The Daily What and Tosh.O, the sites which made the video go viral. If Rebecca’s family’s wishes had been followed, no one outside of their home group would ever have even seen the video. Rebecca has since said that, while she wishes she didn’t have to go through all of the negative attention, she is glad it happened because it has given her the chance to pursue her dreams as an adult. That’s a great way of looking at things, taking a silver lining from the clouds.
2. Even She And Her Family Hated The Lyrics
When she went to ARK Music Factory, she was given the choice of two songs, both of which were pre-written. She wasn’t able to bring in her own lyrics, or look at other songs to see if they could find something to suit her better. The content of the first song meant that Rebecca really had no choice at all. “The other song was about adult love – I haven’t experienced that yet,” she said at the time. Her mother also says that she thought the lyrics were pretty stupid when she first read them, but decided not to interfere. After all, this was just a chance for Rebecca to see what it was like to be in a recording studio – it wasn’t anything serious. No one was even going to see it. What difference would it make if the lyrics weren’t something she would have chosen herself? The rest is history, but at least we know that no one actually thought it was a good song – except ARK, who produced many more in this vein.
1. There Are Hilarious Conspiracy Theories
Although they are probably a bit tongue-in-cheek, there are some great hilarious conspiracy theories about hidden meanings behind the “Friday” lyrics. For example, some enterprising genius came up with the idea that it was all about the assassination of JFK, given that he ate cereal the morning of his death and was killed while sitting in the backseat of a car. They even say he woke up at 7am like Rebecca. It’s all very amusing and definitely brings a new level of humour to the song, allowing you to look at it in a different light. You can read plenty of different fake conspiracy theories about the lyrics, and it’s also pretty easy to come up with your own. Choose any big event from history and you can link it in somehow, so long as you’re not shy about using the vaguest connections possible. As a creative thinking exercise, it’s actually pretty fun to do!
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