It’s been nine years since the debut of the internet culture phenomenon “Friday” first dropped on YouTube. Rebecca Black’s song–originally intended to be something fun for herself and a few family members to watch–quickly raked in over 30 million views within a week of its release, becoming a viral sensation that quickly resulted in a massive cyber-bullying campaign against Black. Now, in honor of its anniversary, Black took to Instagram to reflect on the career-defining song and the tumultuous impact it had on her life.
“Above all things, i just wish i could go back and talk to my 13 year old self who was terribly ashamed of herself and afraid of the world,” writes Black in the post, which now has over 100,000 likes. She continues, “to my 15 year old self who felt like she had nobody to talk to about the depression she faced. to my 17 year old self who would get to school only to get food thrown at her and her friends. to my 19 year old self who had almost every producer/songwriter tell me they’d never work with me.”
Black’s comments are hard to read, especially considering how deep of a part we all played in Black’s traumatic life post-”Friday.” It’s true, anyone who was on the internet during the release of the song will remember the insane amount of hate targeted towards the 13-year-old singer. The autotune rich vocals combined with the cheesy lyrics about everyone’s favorite day of the week were easily preyed upon. Even I can remember being in middle school, watching the video with my friends and calling it “quite possibly the worst song I’ve ever heard.”
But the truth is, Rebecca Black was way ahead of her time. “Friday” and its accompanying tacky music video is strongly reminiscent of the thousands of viral videos being created and shared today by teenagers seeking to launch their careers of internet-fame. The extremely popular video sharing platform, TikTok, is undoubtedly inspired by the kind of fun, kitschy ridiculousness found at the core of Black’s song. Famous YouTube stars, like Jake Paul and other former “Team 10” members, drop cringe-worthy music videos on their channels regularly. Sure, they get their fair share of hate, but people love these videos and the meme-worthy slogans they produce (Jake Paul’s “It’s Everyday Bro being a prime-example).
If Black’s worldwide virality happened just a few years later, there’s no question that she would have a top-spot in the ranks of instagram influencers, now a full-time career for many young adults. In a world where young girls like Bhad Bhabie and Woah Vicky–who are far-more controversial than Black ever was–have reached international success, Black would be a superstar.
Today, Black has moved on from her “Friday” days. She was a contestant on the singing competition show “The Four,” and has dropped multiple singles that highlight her incredible voice. In addition, Black posts regularly on the platform that started it all for her–YouTube. Most importantly, she has learned to not be defined by her past, concluding her Instagram post with a touching sentiment: “you are not defined by any one choice or thing. time heals and nothing is finite. it’s a process that’s never too late to begin.”
Listen to her most recent single “Sweetheart” here
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Writer, journalist, and dog-enthusiast. Student in Pratt Institute’s BFA Writing Program.