Featured Essays

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Rebecca Black Story – A Commentary on the Pop Music Industry

The Rebecca Black Story – A Commentary on the Pop Music Industry

Rebecca Black became famous for all the wrong reasons.

In the age of social media, where unknown artists are constantly discovered online, it is easy for anyone to post a music video on Youtube, but much harder to get noticed among the many others vying for the same ambitions. How does one distinguish themselves from all the wannabe musicians on the Internet? The thirteen-year-old Rebecca Black may have discovered an unlikely answer. This week, she became an instant online sensation after her debut music video "Friday" launched on Youtube. In the span of seven days, she achieved over 20 million views on Youtube, broke top records on Twitter, and quickly climbing the sales charts on iTunes. It is quite a feat for somebody so young and so inexperienced within the music industry.

The reason why Rebecca became popular is not because she sings extraordinarily well. In fact, being the exact opposite has propelled her to infamy across the world. She was brought to public awareness after a comedic segment on Tosh 2.0, which described it as the worst song of all time. Indeed, there are numerous elements about "Friday" that culminated to a cringe worthy experience. Whether it is the nasally voice, the banal lyrics, or the awkward dancing, the majority opinion is overwhelmingly unfavourable. Yet, like a train wreck in motion, our pop culture remained fixated with this aspiring starlet. After a while, you may become accustomed or even enjoy the catchy beat of the terrible song!

The Rolling Stone offered an intriguing perspective on Rebecca Black's recent infamy. One writer believes this song is an unintentional parody on the music industry. "Friday", which is a song that literally describes the days of the week, epitomizes the banality of pop music nowadays. Anyone can put together a commercialized music video, with little regards to the quality of the singing or the overall message. Who needs a good voice when there's auto-tune software? Who needs profound lyrics when there's a tedious yet catchy beat instead?

Rebecca Black's recent infamy reflects the increasing superficiality within the music industry, because it's all about the packaging nowadays. In fact, Rebecca's label "The Ack Factory" is an apt title to describe the prevalent issue at hand; the entire industry is indeed like a factory, churning out generic songs with little originality or depth. "Friday" might not be the worst piece of music ever in existence, but its notoriety is an indication that the pop music industry has hit rock bottom.

This Friday, Rebecca Black made her first public appearance on Good Morning America, where she revealed to be a sweet and ordinary teenage girl. She is a typical tween who giggles over her idol Justin Bieber (also a Youtube discovery, by the way) and seems in awe with her sudden fame. When her parents paid $2000 to "The Ack Factory" to help their daughter make her first music video, it was only meant to be a cute little pastime that helps Rebecca develop some experience and confidence in front of the camera. Nobody expected that she would become an online celebrity to this capacity.

With over millions of sales on iTunes, Rebecca Black and her parents should be laughing all the way to the bank, but this sudden infamy does come with some unfortunate consequences. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca has not only been called every bad name in the book, and she even received some death threats for offending some people's eardrums. There is some natural resentment towards Rebecca, whom many perceive as a bad singer, because she became famous for all the wrong reasons, while other singers remain anonymous despite all their talent and hard work. However, the vitriol against Rebecca does seem way too harsh relative to her actual performance. Is her singing really that offensive to provoke so much death threats and cyberbullying?

Years ago, there was another 'musician' who rose to infamy due to his obvious lack of talent. Remember William 'She Bangs' Hung? He set the precedent for achieving fame and money out of his bad singing. In fact, the audition weeks of American Idol usually glorifies the shoddy singers and showcases the freak shows. There is an undeniable appeal about watching and listening to an entertaining train wreck. Also, we can only appreciate the good musicians once we compare them with the obviously bad ones. Every now and then, someone like William Hung or Rebecca Black comes along to shake up the industry, allowing us to re-evaluate our standards in quality music.

Once again, it is astonishing to see the strength of social media, which can be used to promote both the good and the bad. Not every Youtube celebrity will go on to become a sustainable entertainment icon. Justin Bieber was the rare exception, whereas Rebecca Black is likely to fade into obscurity within a few weeks. But hey, at least Rebecca could always look back at her brief stint in the spotlight, as she made her mark in Internet history.

Watch "Friday" by Rebecca Young in all its magnificent glory:

No comments:

Post a Comment