The Musical Talmud: Rebecca Black's Friday

The Musical Talmud: Rebecca Black’s Friday

Which seat should YOU take?

There are a number of schools of philosophy for which becoming like this is the worst thing that can happen to you. They aren’t very fun schools of philosophy.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the hot new viral hit, “Friday,” written by Clarence Jay and Patrice Wilson of the ARK Music Factory, and performed by 13-year old singer Rebecca Black, with the recording and video production mostly paid for by her parents.

Perhaps you’ve seen it roundly criticized as “the worst song ever” (it isn’t), or heard a bunch of bad things about it on the Twitters or somesuch.

Perhaps you’ve watched the video (which was homing in on 28 million YouTube hits at press time):

Perhaps you’ve watched parody videos remixed with other compelling viral video content on YouTube:

But have you stopped to think about what it means? What it says about days of the week, cereal, riding in cars and the lenses that shape the way youth looks at the world and the world looks at youth?

Come on, let’s go. No time to rest. Rebecca Black isn’t Walter Sobchak – she rolls on Shabbos —

Worst Ever?

First of all, “Friday” isn’t the worst song ever. Yeah, it’s got a lot of mistakes in it and has huge gaps in its syntactic content. The guys who wrote it seemed to have been trying to make the girl feel like a star by making her song resemble popular songs while omitting anything objectionable, with the result that it says very close to nothing. The autotune is used poorly. It’s inane. But it’s relatively catchy, and I can identify with liking Friday. As a day of the week, it’s okay. Pretty good day of the week.

At times like this, it’s useful to have your own “worst song ever” to call on and remind people that this is not as bad as it gets. For the last 12 years or so, my go-to “worst song ever” has been “If I Was Your Mother” by Bon Jovi, off 1993’s Keep the Faith album:

By certain standards, yeah, this isn’t the worst song ever, but it always creeped me out so much that I had to skip it every time I listened to the Keep the Faith album in the late 90s and early aughts. Which was frequently. Such a creepy song!

But yeah, “If I Was Your Mother” makes me feel squicky, awful and gross. “Friday” is, at worst, incompetent, exploitative and stupid. What is your “worst song ever?” Leave a note in the comments!

Because You Didn’t Know What I Was Going to Use the Bowl For

Skipping past the unfortunate “yeah yeahs” at the beginning, let’s break this song down:

7am, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs

The first two lines deliberately recall “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha, except we establish Rebecca Black is much cleaner-cut than Ke$ha is. Ke$ha starts with that energy that only becomes debaucherous after the fact. There’s nothing off-color or demonstrative about “feeling like P. Diddy” or grabbing her glasses and going to “hit the city.” It’s only when she starts brushing her teeth that things get raunchy. So, Ke$ha starts out a little neutral and veers toward Ke$hatown.

Conversely, Rebecca Black’s song is straight-down-the-middle wholesome and then intensifies. This girl is waking up quite early, and knows she has to be fresh for her day. She has a routine that is not quite so familiar to her that she can get by without reminding herself of it (because she is only 13), and she is cheerfully determined to follow that routine.

This is the biggest defining characteristic of “Friday” – the speaker of the song isn’t a party girl – she’s a nice 13 year old girl who follows rules and acts appropriately. She is singing in a genre that runs out of things to talk about if booties and drugs aren’t mentioned so kudos to the song for not going there. Unfortunately, it holds her back – since this sort of dance-driven electronically influenced hip-hop is so bound up in talking about luxury and clubs and hedonism, Rebecca is left talking about only a few things and repeating herself a lot to fill dead air. What Black says about the song is particularly apt, which was pre-written for her as part of her sort of vanity project thing and was presented to her along with an alternative song:

I didn’t write it at all…The other song was about adult love–I haven’t experienced that yet. ‘Friday’ is about hanging out with friends, having fun. I felt like it was my personality in that song.

-Rebecca Black

Next, we get some insight into the life that the songwriters presumably think she leads, as an upstanding teenager.

Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal

This is very smart. Do this in order. You need to get the bowl before you get the cereal, or you end up pouring the cereal on the table.

Seriously, though, this is the first moment after the initial “yeahs” where I knew the song was just terrible (and then I let it go). Mentioning she has to have her bowl is interesting – there’s a tension it sets up momentarily, because we don’t know what kind of bowl it is, what might go into it, or why it is important – but that momentary suspense is dashed with a satisfying, mundane answer.

But the more I listen to the song, the more this line grows on me, especially the way Black sings the word “cereal.” It has a touching familiarity. Past a certain age, the word “cereal” stops being in a person’s vocabulary the same way it is in youth – as something that is ascribed to you by authorities that care for you as both a responsibility (you have to eat your cereal!) and something that will feed you and fuel you and be good for you to eat. Adults don’t have “cereal” the way Rebecca Black has “cereal.” Adults have “breakfast” – a term that implies previous self-denial and personal ownership of the meal.

Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’

This pair of lines makes it sound as if the song is going to get soulful or human for a second, but then it gets … cute. In most songs, the idea that “the time is goin, / Tickin’ on and on” would be a wistful, sad observation. But in this song, to the kid in question, the consequences of the inexorable march of time are not the loss of everything you ever knew or loved, but being late to school!

Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends

So, this is the most important moment in the song, even it gets lost a bit by showing up so abruptly. I’ve had this moment personally, and it’s one of the more uplifting experiences one can have as a straight-and-narrow young teenager.

Black (or the speaker of the song, whichever), expects to take the bus. She is driven by an urgency she submits to, but isn’t crazy about. Very little about her day is in her own control, when all of a sudden, her friends pull up in a car.

Cars are hugely symbolic for teenagers, obviously – even more than they are for G-Unit alums rolling on rims bigger than Outback steakhouse tables. But to teenagers, cars mean freedom – not necessarily freedom from things they don’t want to do, but freedom in the sense of active agency and control over where they go and what they do, which, it turns out, is more thrilling and important than going anywhere specific.

When I was a teenager and surprisingly got to ride in or drive in a car, did I really ever go anywhere interesting? Usually it was just to a diner or a field to play Frisbee or somebody’s house. Maybe I went to Tower Records. The important thing was that I or my friends had the agency over where we were going.

Since Black is only 13, we have to conclude that either:

  • Her friends are older than she is
  • California has some pretty crazy drivers license laws
  • The people who wrote the song have no idea when teenagers get drivers licenses
  • The people who wrote the song wrote it for somebody older
  • This whole scene is a fantasy of a Friday that never really happens, and instead Rebecca Black is trapped in a simulation of a dream-state by robots trying to use her for energy and implant ideas in her brain that will lead to her making business decisions down the road that are beneficial to their shareholders

All of these readings are, I think, fine.

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

And here is the most baffling part of the song, but also a kind of touching one. To think of a life where this was the kind of choice you ever had to make! This choice between sitting in the front seat versus sitting in the back seat is going to take up more room in the song than anything other than the day of the week, the abstract concept of partying, or the word “fun.”

It is another power dynamic at work – Black’s character looking for liberation, but almost a Miltonic liberation, where she has found obedience to be hardly an inconvenience, but she wonders what it might be like to be responsible for herself.

After all, for adults, there is pretty clear sitting etiquette in cars. If the front passenger seat is open, sit there. If not, sit in the back.

But for teenagers, there’s the possibility that the social relationships in the cars are so fluid that where you sit in a car is going to matter, plus the possibility that the laws that specify the number of people who sit in the front and back seats of cars will be blissfully ignored.

And for children (which, let’s not forget, 13 year olds pretty much are), there’s the possibility that a rider may be too young to sit in the front seat, because the diagonal belt across the chest may choke the child around the neck, or that the car has a baby seat in it that restricts sitting in the back – or there is an adult to whom the child must defer, precluding her from sitting in the back.

So, it makes sense that this would be more of a loaded choice for Black’s character than it would be to an adult. I’m not sure it would be stated without any further elaboration, but it’s also possible she would be self-conscious talking about it or not entirely know why it feels so liberating to get to sit wherever she wants in the car.

The “I see my friends” that preceded this was so joyful – this is a space where they won’t judge her for it. The “kickin’ it in the front seat” and “sittin’ in the back seat” are there so the parents know the production company are real hip-hop moguls who know all the up-to-date street slang and are worth their $2,000.

And also because, to the degree that this is a hip hop fantasy, it makes sense to use language that recalls hip hop songs, even if we won’t have too many opportunities to do that given the subject matter.

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend

I love how in this song, Rebecca Black isn’t excited about it being Friday night, she’s excited about it being Friday morning. All the people at school or work are feeling that little bit better because after they get through this day, they can have some nonspecific fun!

I would be remiss to go any farther without nodding to this song’s true cultural predecessor, Loverboy’s “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend,” which, like “Friday,” ascribes a romantic, almost spiritual significance to this part of the week. It’s a tribute to how much rituals become ingrained in how people think about the world around them:

Just for the juxtaposition, take a look back a “Tik Tok” to hear the song’s other predecessor. You can see the fun little niche Black’s ballad has carved out between the two:

It’s notable that Rebecca Black’s song has more than half of the total views of Ke$ha’s song. Which is kind of absurd.

Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

I’m just going to put this here, because we all need to be educated:

Friday is the day between Thursday and Saturday, and is the last day of the school or work week in many countries. In countries adopting Monday-first conventions as recommended by the international standard ISO 8601, it is the fifth day of the week. It is the sixth day in countries that adopt a Sunday-first convention as in Abrahamic tradition. (See “Week-day names” for more on the different conventions.)

In most countries with a five-day work week, Friday is the last workday before the weekend and is, therefore, viewed as a cause for celebration or relief (leading to the phrase “TGIF”, for “Thank God It’s Friday”). In recent years, in some offices, employees are allowed to wear less formal attire on Fridays, known as Casual Friday or Dress-Down Friday.

In Saudi Arabia and Iran, however, Friday is the last day of the weekend and Saturday is the first workday. In Iran, it is the only weekend day. Moreover, in some countries, Friday is the first day of the weekend, and Sunday is the first workday. In Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) and Kuwait, Friday was formerly the last day of the weekend while Saturday was the first workday. However, this was changed in Bahrain and the U.A.E. on 1 September 2006 to Friday as the first day of the weekend and Sunday as the beginning of the workday, with Kuwait following on 1 September 2007.

The name Friday comes from the Old English Frīġedæġ, meaning the “day of Frige”. The same holds for Frīatag in Old High German, Freitag in Modern German and Vrijdag in Dutch.

The expected cognate name in Old Norse would be *friggjar-dagr. However, the name of Friday in Old Norse is frjá-dagr instead, indicating a loan of the weekday names from Low German. The modern Scandinavian form is Fredag in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish.”

—Courtesy of Wikipedia

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

It’s wild that this song doesn’t describe any of the things they actually do on Friday for fun, but just says “fun fun fun fun.” It’s as if the lyrics were written in pencil on a piece of looseleaf paper, and the third line of this verse is “LIST FUN HERE, FUN FUN FUN ETC.”

Also note that the fun, fun, fun, fun precedes “Lookin’ forward to the weekend,” creating a literary ambiguity in the sequence of events – we are simultaneously having fun on Friday morning thinking about what will happen later and foreshadowing the fun things that will actually happen, which we will never talk about.

But isn’t that the way with kids, sometimes? You don’t necessarily need a lot to do to be excited about “fun, fun, fun, fun.” Just the idea of an environment that empowers you into having it is exciting enough.

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly

We’ve made good time, considering we only woke up at 7 a.m., and more irony with the young person oblivious to the sad side of rushing through things.

Fun, fun, think about fun
You know what it is

Do I, Rebecca Black? Do I? Is this an allusion to these kids making out or something? Inappropriate!

I got this, you got this
My friend is by my right
I got this, you got this
Now you know it

This verse feels out of place, but I think it amounts to more genre-service posturing. Remember that one of the big reasons this self-funded publishing happens is to make the performer and her family feel like she is a star. Even if the song goes positively nowhere (as one must imagine most of these do), there need to be moments that set up the connection – conjure the Platonic form, if you will – that the kid is in fact a music star. This is one of those big moments, an imitation of other songs rather than something that fits in this song at the moment.

It’s also more than a little bit awkward that she gestures to her friend at her right and mentions it is her friend “by my right,” and then it looks as if she is going to gesture at the girl on her left and say she is also her friend, but she chooses not to for whatever reason.

Sorry, I am not quite creepy enough a human being to determine via Internet research whether these kids are Rebecca Black’s real-life friends. It could go either way.

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

We return to this moment, which I suppose has been suspended in time, or being recalled as the moment of liberation when this day took on its greater meaning.

It’s Friday, Friday

Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday

Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

I once wrote an absolutely terrible paper for an undergraduate English course about the Renaissance English poet Edmund Spenser. I had not done the reading in a timely manner and was rushing through it. Spenser uses a grand verse style of elaborate rhymes and formal repetition, so rushing through it is pretty forced and unpleasant. I ended up writing the paper about how I found Spender repetitive and uninteresting, and how the “girth” of his work created “the illusion of deeper meaning.” I was incorrect and rightfully received a terrible grade.

I will not make the same mistake twice. This part is just repeating the chorus. It doesn’t mean anything special, good or bad, it’s just filler, and I’m not going to get obsessed with it, even if it taunts your dreams after you watch the video two dozen times.

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

It is cool here to talk about the other days. In the rest of the song structure, we’ve been talking about Friday, but now that it’s the bridge and we need a change of pace, we will talk about the other days.

Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes after…wards

Okay, wow. Perhaps we don’t want to burden ourselves down with the obligation to say something.

But yeah, this line really needed to rhyme. This is, I think, where most people start feeling confident that they can just bash this song in public and nobody will ever look down at them for it.

Still, lest we forget, I am a huge fan of songs that name days of the week.

I don’t want this weekend to end

You and me both, kid. You and me both.

[Rap Verse]

Alright, so this is the part of the song that throws people the most. It’s just totally inappropriate – the rapper is uncomfortably older than the 13-year-old girl (and you don’t have to be nearly this much older to be uncomfortably older than a 13-year-old girl.).

Who is this guy? Turns out it is one of the guys who wrote the song, ARK Music Factory producer Patrice “Pato” Williams, who apparently was born in South Africa and toured as a rap artist in Central and Eastern Europe.

R-B, Rebecca Black
So chillin’ in the front seat
In the back seat

We go back to the front seat / back seat question, but there’s no reason for this rapper to know about it. Perhaps it is like typological interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, where events repeat because of some sort of divine, spiritual or cosmic echo – an event like Rebecca Black deciding whether to get in the front of back seat affects people on the same cities highway system, whether they were present for it or not, and they find themselves repeating her decision-making. Maybe.

I’m drivin’, cruisin’
Fast lanes, switchin’ lanes

Wit’ a car up on my side

Pato apparently has the luxury of adding the inane details about cars and stuff that have been missing from the rest of the song because Rebecca Black doesn’t have a driver’s license.

Seriously, though, he might as well be wearing a T-shirt that says “I AM A REAL LIFE ADULT RAPPER HERE TO VALIDATE YOUR PERFORMANCE.” It’s an obvious formal move, which sometimes works, but usually doesn’t, especially with very young girls.

Here’s an example of where it works (The Pussycat Dolls’ “Buttons,” featuring Snoop Dogg, which is still kind of uncomfortable, but is that way on purpose. It is also of dubious work safety):

And here’s an example of where it works less well (Dream “This is Me,” featuring Puff Daddy and some guy named Kain):

Now, just to be fair to Dream, whom I tended to like during their 15 minutes of fame, and who have been trying to get back into the game with the new group Lady Phoenix, this is the original song, not involving an uncomfortably older rapper or forced hip hop style, which is much better (but apparently is harder to find online and trickier to embed successfully, sorry about that):

Passin’ by is a school bus in front of me
Makes tick tock, tick tock, wanna scream

These are probably the worst lines of the song and its biggest claim to “worst song ever” status, just because it makes it seem as if the sketchy older man is following a school bus for uncomfortable reasons. But, we know Rebecca Black isn’t on the school bus – she is in her car with her friends. So it seems especially out of place and strange.

The “tick tock, tick tock” may be a throwaway reference to the song’s nods to Ke$ha, but I also think it might reflect how much angstier the older man is about the passage of time than the young teenager – you’ll see he is affirmed by the realization it is Friday, and whatever it was he was going to do that was so bad is probably going to be replaced by going to a game night or something.

Check my time, it’s Friday, it’s a weekend
We gonna have fun, c’mon, c’mon, y’all

And there it is.

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

And then we repeat the chorus a bunch more times, unchanged by everything that just happened with the creepy older dude. He was definitely just spliced in for genre-validating effect.

The party we see at the end is a social validation for Rebecca Black – she shows up at a house party we never see inside. We never see if it is appropriate for her age, but more importantly, we see her friends outside happy to see her, we see her dressed up like a star, we see this big love bomb on her outside this party, which is another big part of what her family was paying for when they got this song.


“Friday” is sloppy, but it still has a message, which is about teenagers excited at the prospect of being in charge of themselves in a way that feels natural and isn’t too much trouble. It’s pretty sweet, and means that more people probably actually like this song than let on.

How about you? Do you like it, or would you like to let the hate flow? It’s quite popular online these days. Sound off in the comments!

37 Comments on “The Musical Talmud: Rebecca Black’s Friday”

  1. Anton Sirius #

    I’m disappointed you didn’t manage to work the Easybeats’ “Friday On My Mind” into this too, which is to Loverboy as Loverboy is to Rebecca Black.

    As for the Worst Song Evah, that’s easy: You Get What You Give by the New Radicals, a song that’s relentlessly oblivious to its own irony. The previous champ, of course, was We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel.


    • JosephFM #

      Uhm, I LOVE that song. How on earth is it “relentlessly oblivious to its own irony”? I’d say it’s very much aware of it.

      Actually, “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too” is one of my favorite albums of the 90s, and a lot weirder than people remember (especially “I Think I Just Gave Away The Ending” and “Jehovah Made This Whole Joint For You”, both of which are pretty nuts.)


  2. Kenley #

    Well, I don’t really hate Friday, but I dislike it. I definitely agree that it isn’t the worst song ever, but I still can’t understand one thing. Why is this FAMOUS?! I mean seriously, WHY? It isn’t really catchy for me. The lyrics aren’t really good. It isn’t bad enough to be the worst song ever, but WHY? Fenzel, please enlighten me on how this song got famous. Better songs aren’t reaching the level of popularity this song has.


  3. Chance McClain #

    Wow. I have been subscribed to your feed for eleventy-nine years and finally felt compelled to write because you did what I have been wanting to do since I first heard this song. Break it down. I love it the ignorant innocence of it! I love how in the course of three days it has gone from Cool-to-make-fun-of, then cool-to-embrace, then quickly uncool-to-embrace, all the way to uncool-to-make-fun-of.

    I applaud the kid. Follow her tweets. She is crushing ARK now. No idea why I’m mesmerized by the whole meme.


    • fenzel #

      Thanks! This is definitely the spirit I like to bring to the table on the site when I can, and I’m glad you’re fired up!


  4. Steven Sousa #

    My WSOAT is Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing”. Let me count the way’s it’s terrible:

    1. It’s terrible by association with a terrible movie.
    2. The premise makes no sense, because unconscious people don’t notice the passage of time
    3. There are only a few Rock bands that can pull of the power ballad. The most important factor is success is the vocal skill of the lead singer. Steven Tyler just doesn’t cut it here. There’s a reason AC/DC never did a power ballad.
    4. The lyrics are completely passive. All he ever talks about are wishing he never had to do another thing for the rest of his life but just watch his unconscious love. Very few women find such a lack of initiative sexy.
    5. Not to mention it’s sort of creepy.
    6. But then again, so is Every Breath You Take, and the ladies seemed to love that song, so what do I know?


  5. dennis cameo #

    It’s just a new “age” song produced for only $2000, and there it went, like it or not.
    Now let’s go back 15 years and look at how fame was won and kept. “All I wanna do is hjave some Fun” wins a Grammy!!!!! but it is produced for $200,000, and it is terrible but because it is produced and advertised by the mega music industry it wins a grammy, and then the worst song ever comes form the same singer in 2001 sung at half time of some bif football game, encouraging people to lighten up, and go about spending after the 9-11 tragedy, “I want to Saok up the Sun.”…. Now you want corrupt or viral, take your pick. Speaking up corrupt this same infamous singer just did a show for one of the banks that were bailed out by us taxpayers at a cost of $50,000 for a few songs!!! I’ll take viral any day over the corrupt and greedy music industry! Read about the bank party at this web site….


  6. dennis cameo #

    It’s just a new “age” song produced for only $2000, and there it went, like it or not.
    Now let’s go back 15 years and look at how fame was won and kept. “All I wanna do is have some Fun” wins a Grammy!!!!! but it is produced for $200,000, and it is terrible but because it is produced and advertised by the mega music industry it wins a Grammy, and then the worst song ever comes form the same singer in 2001 sung at half time of some big football game, encouraging people to lighten up, and go about spending after the 9-11 tragedy, “I want to Soak up the Sun.”…. Now you want corrupt or viral, take your pick. Speaking of corrupt this same infamous singer just did a show for one of the banks that were bailed out by us taxpayers at a cost of $50,000 for a few songs!!! I’ll take viral any day over the corrupt and greedy music industry! Read about the bank party at this web site….


  7. Kimbo Jones #

    I think something important to remember (that Good Morning America didn’t to) is that making fun of this song is not the same thing as making fun of a 13 y.o. girl who has very little agency in writing, producing, and releasing not only a terrible song, but a terrible epilepsy-inducing video to go along with it. The writers of the song are the ones that should have been interviewed and had negative YouTube comments read at them, not Rebecca Black.

    That being said, this song is epically awful. If they wanted to say something about wholesome teenagery, they could have injected the song with any number of wholesome, youthful activities that she and her friends get up to on the weekends — presumably *without* being mercilessly pursued by a rapping bus stalker in a dark sedan. But they went with “fun fun fun fun” and “Sunday comes afterward” (one of the worst lyrics I’ve ever heard). Could the old rap guys who actually wrote the song not think of anything beyond lamenting days spent on the bus long gone by and what receptacle is most cereal-appropriate?


  8. Gab #

    I remember Dream. Wow, what nostalgia.

    And I was actually very tempted to post a link to the video in the Open Thread, so this was rather exciting to see.

    Anyhoo, I at least appreciate her honesty in saying she hadn’t experienced adult love and thus opted out of singing about it. That was actually a very mature decision for a girl of her age. Props to her for that.

    I think the fact that it’s about very little is part of why it’s so catchy and successful. A running theme in the (“bad”) pop culture is the inane emptiness and lack of pure substance- it fosters exactly the kind of thing you do with a lot of the lines, meaning having the person consuming the product place themselves in that situation in a way more concrete than just “relating” to it by actually recalling having been there (or being able to picture themselves there so easily, they may as well have). What’s more fascinating about this one, though, is how the recollection of having been in that situation is so vastly different for different groups. Like the cereal v. breakfast thing: for teenagers, they can say, “Dude, that was me this frikkin’ morning!” While adults sigh and say, “Oh, those were the days…” It’s a current state of mind for one group, and a nostalgic one for the other.

    For that reason, it’s much like the songs that sing about the Good Old Days or that harken back to a simpler time when things were so much better or safer or what-have-you. Even though it’s contemporary, the same sort of nostalgia occurs with this song as with, say, “Route 66” or “Choo Choo Ch’boogie.” We sigh and recall a simpler time, or one we hold in great esteem.

    I’d say my only point of contestation has to do with the interpretation of the lyric by Pato, “Passin’ by is a school bus in front of me/
    Makes tick tock, tick tock, wanna scream.” Ignoring the video, the lyric itself seems more like a complaint that he has to wait behind a bus that’s loading or unloading kids. Okay, sure, plenty adults feel that way sometimes, but then why insert that into a song that’s about being a kid? It’s like being a country singer and having a guest sing about how much they hate country music. But taking the video in, too, it still makes no sense. Unless it’s a schoolbus for a night-time field trip (maybe a team heading to an away game), a schoolbus wouldn’t be running. But we don’t even see outside Pato’s car, either, so there’s no real assurance about what the heck is going on. But I suppose that fits well with how incredibly out of place that whole rap solo is.

    I guess my assessment is it’s harmless, and that’s fine. It really possesses an innocence that is pretty much impossible to find. I mean, heck, one of the girls in the car with Rebecca has braces! It’s cute. It’s not very good- the people “worried” about it (for lack of a better way of putting it) are at least correct in that. But empty or bad songs making it big isn’t a new phenomena, and not every song on the radio is going to be “good.”


  9. Brian #

    I’m really grateful you’re pointing out the not-so-obvious subtext of the song being “about teenagers excited at the prospect of being in charge of themselves in a way that feels natural and isn’t too much trouble.” Had I just watched the ABC interview, the subtext reinforced would have been “the internet is out to kill my children.” ABC really wanted to push the cyber-bully epidemic, and seriously fuck them, I’m gonna let my hate flow on ABC, the biggest troll of them all.

    ABC postures itself as paternal protector and gritty hard nosed investigator, but it’s just flame-baiting for profit. I half expected the interviewer to squirt lemon juice in Rebbecca Black’s eyes and kick her in the shin to break her stoic cheerful resolve.

    Same with Charlie Sheen’s meltdown, wasn’t surprised it happened but that they showed it. Why air the interview? They’re trolling, it’s for profit thus legitimate, but troll for a hobby and you’re a bully and encroaching on ABC’s trolling racket.


    • fenzel #

      I am not fond of the anti-bullying movement at all. It grossly underestimates children’s ability to handle things themselves, and I’m really skeptical that it’s accomplishing much, especially when violence and dysfunctional behavior among kids comes from underlying causes that these people are not doing very much about. What profit a school to stop a bully but lose an entire teaching department?

      It seems to me one worse lesson to impart than “Authorities will condemn bad behavior but you still have to deal with it yourself” is “Authorities will go out of their way to say they are helping you when they aren’t.”

      But of course I haven’t been at school in a long time, so I’m probably not the best authority on the matter.

      It may very well be that it’s the use of the word “bully” in this discourse that really turns me off “anti-bullying.” Nobody should be scared of bullies. Bullies are cowards. Bullies use violence and intimidation because they are insecure. You don’t need a government program to stop bullies. You just need to stand up to them and stand up for yourself.

      You need a government program to stop violence or to teach people to respect their peers, or what have you. Yeah, it’s the same thing, but I don’t like the idea of legitimizing bullies by naming the initiatives to limit their damage after them.


        • Brian #

          That 42 seconds is more inspirational than Avatar.

          I guess what’s irking in the Rebecca Black scenario is ABC doesn’t acknowledge she’s handling this the right way, unlike Jessi Slaughter, or foreground her healthy attitude despite negativity; it’s so positive they have a hard time provoking her and editing it out.

          The caption under the whole interview is “Thousands Ridicule Teen Singer.” They bring up bullying, show the mom angry and admitting homicidal thoughts, then present ABC as the only ones willing and powerful enough of resolving the negativity onslaught by getting her dream duet with Justin Beiber. The story is ABC, with their just and mighty power, saved this helpless girl.


      • JosephFM #

        Actually, I think “Authorities will go out of their way to say they are helping you when they aren’t” is an excellent lesson to learn, since it’s usually true.

        I think I agree with you though that the word “bully” is being misused to cover basically all manner of socially-motivated abuse among young people, because it invokes that same stereotype you cite of insecure people using violence and intimidation to build self-esteem, when a lot of this is actually more like tribal behavior and basic bigotry. I mean, those things overlap, to be certain – any ingroup is defined to a large extent by it’s Others – but the issue is deeper-rooted and more complex than platitudes like this give credit.


  10. Rob #

    I’m pretty sure that this song was originally written for Andrew W.K….


  11. English Professor #

    Black’s ‘Friday’ is a masterful paean to teenage ennui. Clearly conceived as a destructive and insightful response to Ke$ha’s ‘Tik Tok’, both narrators begin by waking early and taking us through their day. However, Ke$ha’s day leads us to a rave where, at one point, time seems to stand still – an ecstatic release that Black cannot attain. Instead, barred from the twin temptations of drugs and alcohol, Black focuses her excitement, futilely, on the only ‘drug’ available to her at her young age – the day of the week, Friday.

    The mantra she repeats to herself over the bridge, ‘Yesterday was Thursday. Today it is Friday’ is clearly trying to imbue this day with the decadent significance other artists such as Ke$ha or the Black Eyed Peas do to their own excesses. But note the detached look in Black’s eyes, the way the rest of her household rushes past her as she, quite literally, stands still. The constant repetitions of ‘partying’ and ‘fun’, as well as the number of variations on ‘I’m so excited’ and ‘I don’t want this weekend to end’ reveal the real truth.

    Who is the narrator trying to convince here? The audience? Or herself?


    • fenzel #

      Yay! I think this is the first novelty account I’ve seen on OTI! w00t!

      I disagree somewhat with the interpretation, as you can tell from the article, and see it more as a stylistic imitation of Tik Tok – marked by mimetic intrustion – than an attempt to tear Tik Tok down.

      But I like the cut of your jib.

      “AND MY AX!”


  12. Rainicorn #

    Worst song ever? Toss-up between “Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk” and “Come On Eileen”. The former is the more flagrantly offensive, but the latter is far more pervasive in the general culture.

    “Friday” is pretty gross though. Lord, but I’m glad YouTube wasn’t around when I was an artless 13-year-old muddling through life. (As opposed to the artless 22-year-old muddling through life that I am now.)


  13. cat #

    I do not hate this song. I do not love this song. I am remaining neutral by avoiding it and as long as it doesn’t end up on the radio getting played at CVS or something, I should be fine. What struck me during your analysis was the almost complete lack of form. Yes, there’s a lot of repetition but that’s become less of a formal element in modern music and more of an affectation, especially with autotune and that sort of scratching/rewind effect. I have had nothing but disdain for Baby (Beiber) since it invaded by mostly insulated bubble of music I choose to listen to. But at least the song rhymed. Sort of.

    I want to be able to draw some meaning from this. Could it be that in her quest to gain some freedom and agency, she (and I’m referring to the speaker, not the actual Rebecca who did not write the song) is purposely rejecting the formal rhyming conventions that provide the absolute baseline to many songs? While poetry has cast off the need for a strict rhyme scheme (How many modern poets still write in sonnet? Seriously. Let me know. I like sonnets.) most songs still retain a pretty high level of rhyming (leading to some fairly inane lyrics) and rhythm (necessary given that the words must be set to music, unless you repeat things, add riffs, change the melody, etc.). Is the speaker deciding to strike out on her own path and usher in a new wave of unconvential songwriting, an experimental noise collective of pop music, if you will?

    “This is very smart. Do this in order. You need to get the bowl before you get the cereal, or you end up pouring the cereal on the table.” Helpful advice.

    “This whole scene is a fantasy of a Friday that never really happens, and instead Rebecca Black is trapped in a simulation of a dream-state by robots trying to use her for energy and implant ideas in her brain that will lead to her making business decisions down the road that are beneficial to their shareholders.” Challenging concepts.

    “Do I, Rebecca Black? Do I? Is this an allusion to these kids making out or something? Inappropriate!” Mysterious allusions.

    Is there more to this song? Is it actually inviting inquiry while all the while knowing that there is nothing to investigate? Is it a song that is trying to defy overthinking??? OK. Probably not.

    Actually, the way you’ve described it, it reminds me of something from one of those Disney channel original movies, Pixel Perfect. There was a hologram who was perfect in every sense but creativity. When she tried to write a song, she simply made a composite of the lyrics of a bunch of other songs and questioned why that wasn’t acceptable when she was a composite of a bunch of images of different women. That is what Friday seems like to me. If you make a composite without considering how it all works together then you lose the meaning of all the individual pieces. Wait, I’m back at the innovative experimental noise collective theory again.


  14. Charlie X #

    I can’t believe people have skipped over the most important thing, even the author of the piece has only barely touched on the flagarant disregard for shotgun rules in cars.
    These rules were made for a reason and ‘choice’ does not enter into it. Whoever can see the car first (and isn’t the driver) can call “Shotgun” and gets dibs on the passenger seat, which I think we all know rightfully to be the best seat for non-drivers. To purport that there’s a CHOICE? Anarchy. Sheer anarchy.
    What’s wrong with these kids today? They’ve all gone wild, I tell you.


  15. Pasteur #

    This song also represents a strongly charged vote/subtle ploy for the modern sedan over other styles of vehicle manufacture. Hey Kids! Rebecca couldn’t decide between the front seat and the back- and now you can, too!

    Rebecca Black may spark a whole new generation of car-buyers, saving Detroit in a way Eminem never could.


    • JosephFM #

      Actually, that’s a Chrysler Sebring convertible in the video, which is a 2-door coupe, not a sedan. Coincidentally, though, that Eminem ad was for the Chrysler 200, the replacement for the now-discontinued Sebring.


  16. Jamas Enright #

    (Bit late for comments, but finally got around to listening to this.)

    Two comments:
    You talk about sitting in the car, and that determining your social position (as “which seat can *I* take?”. However, if you hear the lyric as “which seat *can* I take?”, then this is a reversal, which seat am I socially allowed to take? That she ends up ‘kicking it in the back’ says a lot about her position, she’s not allowed to be ‘chillin’ in the front seat.

    Indeed, and point two, the general reading of the lead in lyric is “getting down” on Friday… but is it getting “down on Friday”, as in “it’s Friday, I’m gonna be down on it (as in ‘diss it’ as the kids say), because it’s the last thing to stand between me and ‘fun fun fun’.”

    This song may be cheerily sung (and badly auto-tuned), but it’s really about being stuck in the back seat life and having to suffer another day before the weekend hits… which makes it all the more applicable to the rest of us!


  17. Steven #

    I normally stay at arm’s length (provided you have a 100ft long arm lying around) from this type of crap, but tis is why I love OTI so much. It triple dog-dares you to plumb the depths of popular culture and look for the hidden meaning that just happens to be there. You do good work, and I applaud you for it. Now, my thoughts on the song.
    1. It sucked.
    2. It didn’t challenge my thought process at all.
    3. I have no greater affection or hatred for Friday.
    4. We should stop singing about the days of the week.
    5. I am currently trying to strengthen my survivng brain cells by writing down this comment.

    First, there were actually some redeeming things about this train wreck. One, I can relate, being a Jen-you-whine teenager, (Genuine if you had trouble with that, sorry), I know what it is like to be excited for the weekend, weekend. Seeing as how it is actually Thursday right now, Spring Break around the corner, I fear a long, day of drudgery and malcontent. Just thinking about all the fun,fun,fun,fun I may or may not have makes my fingers itch and my toes twitch. School for some people is the daily routine, and it is all about getting to the weekend, and that is what R-B is talking about. The weekend is almost a cleanser of all things that happened at the school/work week. If you got in a fight with your friend, forget about it on the weekend. Another thing I noticed was that I called one of the car queens “Pizza Face” (meaning, one with acne) and even though I felt bad afterward, I realized, they aren’t perfect! One of them had braces, and almost all of them had a significant zit showing somewhere or another. I tie this to Fenzel who said that this was Rebecca’s chance to feel like a shining star. It really isn’t. This is either going to turn into a singing career, or go absolutly nowhere, because of her choice to bare all, and wake up with very frazzeled hair, in a strange contrast to Fenzel’s talk of Black being a music star. The same thing is relevant in the awful notebook drawings of her. She is not unattractive, but the drawings don’t help her appearance. But, opposite my point, Rebecca has brought up an army of her young friends to pointlessly agree with her on everything she says. She does already have a following if her 28 million views are anything to say about.

    Now, some things I did not like. Yeah, I’m not done yet. It is not at all as bad a song as I thought. The lyrics could be improved, the melody is simple, and it sounds like a one-note-wonder, but I would not go so far as to say worst. Many by Kesha, Lady Ga-Ga and friends I find to be much worse. But, I digress. Some low points were:

    A. The Auto-tune, my god, the auto tune. I have not heard such a blatant advertisement for a shitty product since the slap chop guy. Rebecca’s voice is completely disassembled and rebuilt in a way that does not provide benefit. The back-up line she does in the last verses, and the yeah yeahs were the ony organic sounds that came out of here mouth. The rest was synthetic noise, and she did not sound good. I’ll believe that she has a nice singing voice, and it makes me want to cry that it was so torn apart by technology.

    B. The creepy black guy. You don’t need to have a rapper to prove you are aiming at the modern audience. I’ve never understood why it is necessary. It changes the song’s tone alot, when it is carefree and becomes confined in the rappers car. The carefree abandon of youth is replaced by the facade that this guy may actually have something important to say. He just reenforces the point Rebecca makes from a not quite adult point of view. His absence could shave 20 seconds of fat off this video.

    So, in conclusion, this near untolerable song has a lot to say for itself already, even if someone else has to talk about it. I hope to see either Rebecca come out with quality work or fade into obscurity. It doesn’t affect me either way. So, why did I write this again?


  18. yellojkt #

    Worst Song Of All Time: ‘Gloria’ by the late Laura Branigan. I get uncomfortably nauseated just hearing the song.


  19. cliffton #

    worst song ever: Freaxx by Brokencyde


  20. grinderman #

    “We Built This City” by Jefferson Starship, anyone?


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Bite your tongue! I know it was #1 on that VHS Worst Songs Ever list, but come on!

      I mean, it might discard the legacy of Jefferson Airplane harder than any song has ever discarded a legacy ever, and that’s unfortunate, but I would venture to say the song isn’t just “not the worst song ever” – but is legitimately a “good song.”

      But I have weird tastes :-)


  21. Joe #

    The worst song ever is “I’ve Never Been To Me” by some chick who I’m not going to encourage by looking up on the internet. But trust me, that song will make you want to punch a baby.


  22. Alexandra #

    But what about how I am not totally convinced this song isn’t a joke?
    There’s no way this song is real. Unless “Muffin Top” and “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” are also real.


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