Rebecca Black: Because Status Updates, Like Telegrams, Should Be Sung

Update: It should have occurred to me that this song, like so many others of its ilk, is “for” children but not actually written with them in mind. If Rebecca Black is thirteen, and there are no adults in the car full of friends, who, exactly, is driving? Why is she so obsessed with “the weekend” when she doesn’t work? Obviously, school gets out on the weekend, but for many kids that means doing a bunch of homework, or spending time with the other parent in the wake of a divorce, or simply being bored — most people who really obsess about weekends are in their 20s. Why is there a cameo from a rapper who seems to be off driving somewhere, with no connection to Rebecca whatsoever? Who is hosting the big party — her parents? The song is trying to reach so many demographics that it ends up being a koan.

Dear readers,

I think it would be a little hasty to say I’m returning to blogging. As of a few weeks ago, instead of being married, I’m separated. My apartment looks like a crime scene, and the new table, from IKEA, wobbles.

Nonetheless, one of my alert readers emailed me and asked me to deconstruct (or post-modern, or some kind of verb) Rebecca Black’s “viral” YouTube hit “Friday.” Actually, a lot of people have already done this, and my friend PK delivered to me, through Facebook, a link to a Funny or Die video where they actually got Rebecca Black herself to participate in a satiric analysis. Which begs the question, if that’s already happened, what can I really add? Still, here goes.

Naturally, if you haven’t seen the video, you won’t be able to make any sense of what follows. So here it is, because without my help, Rebecca Black will probably never be famous.

And here is the best analysis of it, despite the vlogger’s annoying wiggerisms:

Honestly, as bad as I was expecting the song to be, it was much worse. Lots of people have already made great parodies of the two moments that really define the song — first off, Rebecca singing about whether to sit in the back seat or the front seat of a car full of friends, and second, several lines basically devoted to listing off the days of the week.

PART 1:

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

PART 2, IN WHICH DORIS GETS HER OATS:

Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today i-is Friday, Friday (Partyin’)
We-we-we so excited
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today

Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes after…wards

***

This song comes down to two things. First of all, it is a song entirely written about Facebook. Furthermore, sometimes it is written as a series of status updates, and sometimes it is written from the point of view of someone reading status updates. As with delicate changes of point of view in Austen or Joyce, the transitions aren’t clearly marked and have to be sussed out intuitively.

For example, the now-famous lines about choosing a seat in the car are definitely a status update, or rather the thought process of someone busily turning life into a series of status updates. That’s why there’s no transition from Rebecca heading to the bus stop, to Rebecca suddenly in a car with her friends — in real life, both of those things might well be tweeted, and there wouldn’t be any transition there either.

Literally, if I scroll through what’s on my own Facebook feed, we have somebody saying “bonfires and folded hands,” which is cool, and somebody saying they want a Nord Electro 3, which I think is a synthesizer, and “I am going to go to sleep and dream of an imaginary world where Tony Pena is no longer a White Sox.” These things are all consecutive, thanks to the magic of the Facebook feed. What sounds ridiculous in her song (listing the days of the week) would sound, in today’s world, pretty normal put like this: “Oh my god, I can’t believe it’s already Saturday. What happened to my weekend? Let’s get out and party tonight ppl!”

On the other hand, when Rebecca is singing “Friday, Friday, Friday,” over and over again, she is reading status updates from her friends. If you don’t believe me, check Facebook on any major holiday or after any major news event.

***

But, to my mind, it’s equally significant that Rebecca, in an interview with Jay Leno, described herself twice as “thirteen.” This is probably true — she probably is thirteen, but even if she is, it’s not clear why you’d need to clarify that twice in one interview. Say it once, and we’ve got it.

She keeps saying she’s thirteen because she picked the song “Friday” after rejecting an earlier, more romantic song from the same people because she (or her handlers, or whoever) felt it was inappropriate for someone so young to be singing about boys. Here, I think, is the real explanation of why Rebecca Black’s video went viral: because the stupider it is, the stronger our sense that she’s a split personality, watching herself simulate being thirteen, watching herself perform a new pop hit, and watching us with unnerving intensity, hoping very much we’ll like it.

Until soon. -Kugelmass

I’ve seen
A lot of love go sour.
But that’s not our love.
You see the problem was
I was only nineteen.

-The Ol’ 97s

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