Recently, I kept seeing people tweet about a ‘Rebecca Black’. I ignored this because I just assumed she was some American Idol contestant or something. Then after a few days, I saw the headline Lady Gaga thinks Rebecca Black is a Genius so I figured, OK, if The Gags thinks she’s a genius, then she is probably some sort of crazy and now I have to check this out.
My first stop: Wikipedia, which had only one sentence telling me she was a pop singer. Then I was sent an article (thanks @nricchio) about how the 13-year old girl’s music video had gone viral on YouTube and become the #33 most downloaded song on iTunes in a matter of days… for being so terrible. I watched the video of her single “Friday,” which confirmed that this girl was not pop-star material. I kept clicking on more and more articles. There were tons about her, almost all of them making fun of her less than mediocre voice and thoughtless lyrics. People have been blogging, tweeting, sharing, and spreading the word about how bad Rebecca Black is, which is all making her instantly famous and giving her a pretty penny.
To be honest, I agree with the masses. The video, the song, are both bad. Awful, in fact. But I don’t see why this video got so much buzz. As I write this, it has about 10 million more views than Gaga’s latest hit. Typically when people go viral on YouTube it’s because they are embarrassing themselves much worse, like Star Wars Kid or Scarlet when she takes that hilarious tumble. I just don’t think Rebecca Black is on the same level. I know she is not the first vocally challenged singing teenager who posted a video on YouTube. So why Rebecca Black????
A few articles I have read (like this one) seem to think this was all set up: a complete viral marketing plan thought up by the company who produced her video (in which case, they should consider expanding their services to social media consulting). Bloggers are saying the company may have known it was bad the video was and recognized it’s viral potential, so they pushed it along. I might agree with this, but this theory makes me ask, who is making money off of this virality? The company doesn’t have her on a recording contract. They don’t make money when she sells songs or has hits to her website (yes, she has a website). The company isn’t really making bank unless other people start wanting their production services also. Would this plan guarantee that? If it’s exposure they’re after, however, that did get that. The video, which at the time of this writing has more than 40 million views, is hosted on their YouTube page. And we all know the YouTube effect – we never only watch ONE video.
All I know is, we social media and pop culture addicts are most likely either hating Rebecca Black’s popularity or studying it. And for those of us writing about her, well, we’re contributing to it.