A decade after Internet celebrity Rebecca Black released the music video for the viral hit “Friday,” the singer celebrated the anniversary of the song that made her famous in her early teens in a move that some might perceive as an act of reclamation: releasing a remix of the single with a contemporary twist and a slew of cameos by other artists.
“Tonight marks 10 years,” tweeted Black on Feb. 9, 2021, referring to the debut of her viral hit “Friday,” which occurred when Black was only 13 years old. The post also announced artists featured in the new version of the single, including rapper Big Freedia, electronic music duo 3OH!3, and singer Dorian Electra. In response to the “Friday” remix, a number of media outlets like Billboard hailed Black’s latest release as a “glitched-out, star-studded revision” of her earlier work, as well as praising it as a “hyperpop symphony” with an “ethereal” feel.
Notably, the positive reception it immediately received as a starkly overwhelming contrast to the largely negative criticism the original “Friday” received ten years prior, when it was once described as “the worst song ever made” and launched Black’s name into infamy. So what has changed for Black between now and then? And does the remix mark a bona fide comeback for Rebecca Black? Read on after the jump to find out.
Rebecca Black had no idea her debut would go viral
As a teen growing up in Orange County, California, Rebecca Black was a self-described theater kid who loved to perform on stage and sing. In an effort to break out into other areas of entertainment, Black and her mom approached the executives of ARK Music Factory, a production company based out of Anaheim which claimed to seek out young artists, but charged clients with thousands of dollars in order to have them write and produce songs for them to perform, per The Los Angeles Times.
In an in-depth November 2020 interview on the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, Black described the piecemeal process that went into making the music video that would subsequently skyrocket her to fame, for better or for worse. “To have all these expectations of what the music industry looks like, this was not a glamorous day,” Black recounted while describing the day of her video shoot, which she, along with her parents, created, oversaw, and directed. “This was a day where my dad ran out in the middle of the shoot to go get green screen cardboard paper, or just cardboard paper that was green, to end up being like a green screen. And like, we used leaf blowers as a wind machine and we, like, rode around my neighborhood with this convertible with, like a… I don’t know. It was very janky, for lack of a better word.”
Rebecca Black became famous overnight
As she then recounted to TTFA host Nora McInerny, Rebecca Black was kept in the dark by ARK Music after production wrapped on “Friday,” as well as what the final version would sound and look like. She also contextualized the experience, stating that the project was never meant to be a work for mass consumption — rather, it was more akin to a vanity project or a gift (albeit an expensive one) from her parents. “After we shot the video, I mean, I think probably like once every couple weeks I’d wonder, like, ‘I wonder what happened to that,'” Black told McInerny. “I moved on with my day to day.”
Whether Black knew it or not, however, her life was about to irrevocably change after ARK Music released “Friday” on Feb. 10, 2011 via YouTube. While the song only garnered a thousand hits within the first month of its release, the song later racked up over one million views in March 2011 after going viral on social media – and unfortunately for the then-teenager, not for good reasons. Twitter and Facebook users lambasted the single’s heavily auto-tuned vocals and repetitive lyrics. Despite this, the frenzy over “Friday” led almost immediately to a spot on the Billboard 100 and appearances on popular shows like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno – but the ramifications of Black’s instant fame would result in a years-long nightmare for the singer.
The fallout after "Friday" was a nightmare for Rebecca Black
In a 2015 Buzzfeed profile published five years after she became a YouTube sensation, Rebecca Black held nothing back in an eloquent, reflective recollection of the pain she endured following the release of the song that, for better or for worse, made her a household name. And for Black, who was only 13 years old when “Friday” went viral, the emphasis was on the latter. The singer quickly became a pariah in middle school, and received deluge after deluge of death threats from strangers online; the constant barrage of horrific criticism from thousands of Internet users prompted her to leave her junior high and opt for homeschooling, all of which compounded Black’s sense of isolation. “I couldn’t really relate to what my friends were going through anymore, and they couldn’t really relate to me, either,” Black recalled in her BuzzFeed interview. “All of a sudden, I had to grow up really fast.”
Though Black continued to pursue a career in music by piggybacking off of the success of her viral debut, Black also attributed the Svengali-like hold of her now former music manager Debra Baum as a major factor in an ensuing mental health crisis. It was only after firing Baum in 2013 (who, per BuzzFeed, was arrested and convicted over illegal representation fees charged to another client three years after parting ways with Black) that the singer was able to finally work her way back to an emotional equilibrium.
Rebecca Black's 'Friday' remix was years in the making
Despite the years of bullying and harassment that Rebecca Black endured in the years following the release of “Friday,” both by hoards of Internet trolls online and by her peers in person (the latter of which, per BuzzFeed, included “[throwing] fruit at her at lunch, or [pouring] milk in her locker” after she transferred into a public high school her junior year), Black has seemingly now emerged as victorious. At age 23, the singer-songwriter’s re-release of “Friday” subsequently received almost universal acclaim, with the only Internet jibbing in sight stemming from the fact that the remix was, as The Verge pointed out, released on a Wednesday.
It’s a moment Black spent years in the making, as she expressed in a statement the singer released following the remix drop. “I’d had the idea to do this remix of Friday for years leading up to now, but honestly it was also mildly insane for me to think anyone else would want to be a part of it,” Black shared in her follow-up (via Billboard). “As I started talking about it with other artists and producers, I couldn’t believe how stoked people were about it. I am thrilled to have some of my favorite artists (and people) as a part of this moment.” If Black is indeed finally making a comeback, we can’t wait to see what happens next.
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