Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Harper, Paula. “Receiving, Remixing, Recuperating ‘Rebecca Black—Friday.’” American Music 38 (Summer 2020): 217-39.

The 2011 viral music video Rebecca Black—Friday, the widespread derision aimed at the video and Black herself, and the later success of “cover” videos that alter Black’s contribution to the song are part of a larger phenomenon in digital pop culture that sees “girlhood” as a problem. The music video, performed by thirteen-year-old Rebecca Black and produced by Ark Music Factory in 2010, first garnered widespread attention in March 2011 after it was posted to sites like the Daily What and Reddit and mocked by users. By the end of March, legacy media outlets were reporting on the trend and the original YouTube video received a record-breaking 1.192 million dislikes. The hyperbolic criticism the video attracted online—its designation as bad music—is due in part to a mismatch between the intent of the performer and the appraisal of the online audience resulting in an instance of what media theorists call context collapse. Much of the abuse was aimed directly or indirectly at Black’s feminine voice, which mirrored gendered critiques of contemporary popular music as vapid, inauthentic, and feminine. Fueled by YouTube’s “Recommended Videos” feature, a body of reaction and cover videos circulated alongside the original. The most successful covers of Friday are genre-reset covers, which effectively aim to solve the problem of the song’s girlishness by erasing or replacing Black’s voice. The reactions to these masculinized cover versions, even when engaging in ironic humor, overwhelmingly regard the song as improved or redeemed with the removal of Black’s vocals. In the aftermath of the song’s viral success, the initial scorn towards Friday has softened to ambivalence and even begrudging affection, and the process by which this happened reveals how girlhood and pop music fit within 2010s viral internet culture.

Works: @Toxin08 (YouTube channel): Rebecca Black—Friday [DUBSTEP Remix] (228-29); @dannydodgeofficial (YouTube channel): Death Metal Friday (229-30); @HeyMikeBauer (YouTube channel): Rebecca Black—Friday, as performed by Bob Dylan (230); Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, and The Roots, featuring Taylor Hicks: Friday (233); Adam Anders and Peer Astrom (arrangers), Glee (TV) cast: Friday (232-33)

Sources: Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson (performed by Rebecca Black): Friday (227-33)

Index Classifications: 2000s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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