Back to Rebecca Black

She was the 13-year-old internet sensation behind the 'worst song ever'. As Rebecca Black returns with a new track, Gillian Orr reckons that she's smarter than she sounds

With lyrics as witless as "Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal" delivered in a vocal so auto-tuned it could have come from a character in WALL-E, Rebecca Black's 2011 song "Friday" was quickly dubbed the "worst song ever".

But really, what did the world expect from a 13-year-old playing at being a popstar?

Black's song, and its accompanying music video, was actually an over-the-top gift from the girl's mother. It's a gift that has now become an internet legend. For $4,000 (£2,400), Ark Music Factory wrote Black a song and made a video for her 13th birthday. Patrice Wilson, of Ark, along with Clarence Jey (who Wilson hired via Craigslist), thrashed out the song in an afternoon. The video was shot in Black's garden using her friends as extras. "Friday" sat on Ark's website for a month, receiving just 3,000 views.

That was before Comedy Central's Tosh.0 uploaded the video to its blog in March 2011. It quickly went viral, receiving 50 million views in just two weeks. Although it was enthusiastically shared around the world, let's say that the reviews weren't kind.

"I don't seek pleasure in other people's failed attempts to do something, but it's funny to watch something that bad, isn't it?" says Hanna Hanra, editor of Beat magazine, explaining the so-bad-it's-bad appeal of Black's "hit".

"It's not big and it's not clever. But unfortunately it is amusing."

Undeterred by the ridicule that many of its millions of viewers meted out the first time around, Black, now 16, is back .

"I decided not to give the haters the satisfaction that they got me so bad I gave up," Black said in an interview after "Friday" went viral. But is she a deluded wannabe whose talent fails to match her lofty ambitions, or actually a very clever teenager?

"Saturday" (which Black has self-funded and released) was uploaded on the weekend and has already received eight million hits. While it might be ever-so-slightly less horrifying than "Friday", it never really elevates itself above a bad Miley Cyrus rip-off (a few bars seem almost identical to Cyrus's "Party In the U.S.A.").

The video, which pokes fun at her previous hit, is more mature, too, purporting to be less Disney, more Skins. What is perhaps most worrying is that "Saturday" doesn't sound too dissimilar to the sort of thing you might find on Radio 1 at the moment (and sure enough, the station has already played it).

"Saturday" isn't Black's follow-up hit to "Friday"; she's released four other tracks in the interim. Yet songs such as "My Moment" (on iTunes for 99p), which were supposed to be Black's serious attempts at pop stardom, failed to get noticed. While they weren't good, they also weren't bad enough to interest anyone.

According to Geraint Humphreys, the editor of the Pop Sirens website, Black is using the new song to laugh at herself over "Friday" while cashing in on it at the same time. "It's hard to know exactly how much money people make from viral videos, but if this is getting millions of hits, then someone, somewhere is definitely making some money off it. And I imagine she will be in some way," he says.

But in the internet age, how important is talent anyway? Can online infamy be enough to sustain a career? It's certainly worked a charm for the sex-tape moguls Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. And after all, let's not forget Black has five more days of the week to play with.

"A flash-in-the-pan online novelty can be a huge one-off money-spinner for the act involved," says Tim Ingham, editor of Music Week. "But sustaining a career in mainstream music requires a dedicated fanbase, and that takes real talent and hard work to achieve. 'Friday' was an unapologetic carnival of idiocy – 'Saturday' seems the same. Hopefully, 'Sunday' will represent a musical day of rest for Rebecca – one that lasts a lifetime."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?