As an aficionado of the atrocious, I thought I’d sneak a peek at Rebecca Black’s song “Friday.” For those too engrossed in such small matters as Libya to notice, the song has been almost universally derided by “negative Nancies” as “the worst song ever made,” “hilariously dreadful,” and “inept.” Even TIME shook its grizzled locks in disbelief.
The 13-year-old Californian chanteuse has been the target of innumerable scornful, bitchy, and even threatening messages from the music-loving mob. The song has gone viral with over 63 million YouTube views as of March 29, and despite all the criticism Becky doubtless has a career ahead. (She and the company have already earned some $1 million.) She has defiantly told critics she will not “give the haters the satisfaction that they got me so bad I gave up.” Nevertheless obviously stung, she performed an acoustic version to show she doesn’t rely entirely on Auto-Tune and has said she will donate some of her earnings to charity.
The song is thin, adenoidal, and accompanied by—what else?—“the worst video ever.” But at least the lyrics contain chronological insights:
Gettin’ down on Friday…
We-we-we so excited
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today
Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes afterwards
But life is not all partyin’. Important choices await we-we-we:
Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?
And even before that dilemma, urgent tasks must be performed:
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal
Thin gruel though “Friday” is, it is as good as thousands of other songs released every year. Had it not been for the hyperbole, I wouldn’t have paid it any attention—except to switch off the radio hastily if it took me unawares. The tune is catchy, Rebecca has a pleasant smile, her hedonism seems harmless, and the lyrics are at least as good as those of a lot of bands people idolize. “Friday” is certainly more meaningful than the much-vaunted U2’s “Elevation”:
I’ve lost all self control
Been living like a mole
Now going down, excavation
I and I in the sky
You make me feel like I can fly
To return briefly to cereal, the well-known Pop-Tart Madonna also lowered the lyric bar in “I Love New York”:
I don’t like cities, but I like New York
Other places make me feel like a dork
Only feel like? But then Ms. Ciccone doesn’t care what people think of her lyrics, and she trills feelingly:
If you don’t like my attitude, then you can ‘F’ off
Madonna is not the only performer-philosopher. In “Spice Up Your Life,” the Spice Girls point out sagely:
Yellow man in Timbucktoo [sic]
Color for both me and you
Kung Fu fighting dancing queen
Tribal spaceman and all that’s in between
Speaking of spacemen, what vision does REM’s cerebral Michael Stipe adumbrate in “Man on the Moon”?
Mott the Hoople and the Game of Life. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Andy Kaufman in the wrestling match. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Monopoly, twenty-one, checkers, and chess. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Mister Fred Blassie in a breakfast mess. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
That is almost certainly the best song ever written about Fred Blassie.
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