On today's edition of digital anniversaries that will make you feel absolutely ancient, exactly ten years ago today, a pop song was released that would forever change the internet, YouTube, and the notion of what it means to go viral -- none other than Rebecca Black's "Friday."
On February 10, 2011, -- which unfortunately was a Thursday -- 13-year-old Black, alongside her producers at LA's infamous Ark Music Factory, released the ill-fated single and its equally cursed music video into the world, recounting bowls of cereal, driving to school with your pre-teen pal behind the wheel, and the fact that Friday comes before Saturday comes before Sunday. Groundbreaking.
Naturally, the surreal pop track quickly took on a life of its own. Dubbed "the worst song ever," "Friday" exploded online, at one point even holding the title of the most disliked song on YouTube, with parodies, like Brock's Dub, racking up close to 50 million views. Ridiculed for nearly every aspect of her performance, the young singer found herself facing more than just the internet's collective ire, grappling with bizarre pregnancy rumors, which CNN allegedly reported as fact, and even an onslaught of death threats via phone and email -- harassing children, a 2011 pasttime!
"I saw everything. When I started reading those negative comments I just couldn't stop - I just kept going and going and going," Black told the BBC in 2018 of her early days in the spotlight. "People commenting don't think a real person has to read this and move on with their day," she added. In an attempt to cope under such intense public scrutiny, she laughed off the hate, a tactic that took a serious toll on her mental wellbeing.
"I was really struggling, and I felt like if I showed any of that, it would only invite more people to laugh at me," she recently explained to The Lily. "But what it did was dehumanize me even more into some version of a spectacle because none of that is real. It's not normal for a person -- for a kid, especially -- to have the entire world make fun of them and then just laugh along with it." This lighthearted approach had a detrimental effect on the then-middle schooler's confidence. "I was finally on the brink of feeling somewhat good about myself," Black, now 23, recalled. "And that immediately shattered everything."
Amid this turmoil, Black's career began to explode. Nick Jonas, covered her song at a crowded benefit concert as Jay Leno invited her onto his show, where she performed the iconic track. She even began developing a working relationship with Katy Perry, who invited her to appear in the music video for "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)" and Demi Lovato, who reportedly gave the young singer her phone number. "It was so nice to feel like they had my back when, at that point, most people didn't," Black recalled.
Even as her professional life boomed with backing from world-famous artists, and her coyly self-deprecating follow up single "Saturday," which she created with Dave Days, garnering more than 34 million views on YouTube, Black says she needed to exit the limelight, facing "Friday" and its legacy, before moving on with her career. She fired the majority of her team and began attending public school, which she had forgone for homeschooling during her initial rise to fame.
Finally, in 2016, after working with a mentor who she says helped her confront her emotions, Black released her first single in several years, a highly personal song entitled "The Great Divide." Although she says she was afraid the single would garner a similar reaction to "Friday," which she told The Lily, had grown into "the crux of all my fear in life," the song was met with support and positivity.
"This is so perfect! The best revenge is success, and girl you made it. i love you," one fan commented. "This is how evolution works. It's like magikarp to a gyarados. GJ," added another. Nice.
Since then, Black has embarked on a successful career as an internet influencer, garnering a significant following on TikTok, where she posts about her music career and sexuality after coming out as queer last spring while continuing to make music. Her latest release? A Hyperpop remix of "Friday" she created alongside 3OH!3, Big Freedia, and Dorian Electra, commemorating the ten-year anniversary of her teenage internet infamy.
So folks, it may be a Wednesday, but as long as we have Rebecca Black, it's always Friday somewhere in the depths of the internet. Cheers.