It only took three days for 13-year-old Rebecca Black’s ode to Fridays to go viral and become a candidate for worst song ever, according to many on the web. At the same time, however, it became the perfect example of what drives our collective love of internet memes.
Nothing about the song really stands out from the crowd except that Rebecca Black is young, cute and terribly uncreative. That’s what makes it perfect for the Internet as a whole to catch on, as Black’s lazy rip-off of Justin Bieber’s “Baby” makes for the perfect fodder for thousands of potential carbon-copies of the original lazy ripoff.
Everything’s fair game, whether it be a surprisingly inspired fake Bob Dylan cover of the song or all manner of other “dubstep remixes,” slowed down versions or acoustic covers which have flooded YouTube since the weekend. Few of these retreads provide any further insight into the song.
They exist for the same reason “Friday” exists in the first place. Everyone wants their five minutes of internet fame, whether we’ve created something “new” as Black did with “Friday,” or whether we’re just making our own version of it and calling it new content or commentary.
And in this age of Internet hyperbole, everything has to become the best or worst song ever to be recorded because otherwise it won’t blow up to be a huge online sensation, with millions of people tuning in to see or hear it.
Lady Gaga managed to turn a mediocre Madonna ripoff into the 1,000th #1 in Billboard Hot 100 history, and millions of people listened. It didn’t matter whether a listener loved it or called it the worst song ever, people listened and the song became a success.
So if Lady Gaga can ride mediocrity and lack of originality all the way to the bank, who are we to criticize Rebecca Black? The song’s not incredibly original, but it’s infectious in a mindless kind of way. Perhaps that’s why so many people have latched on to “covering” it on social media. It may be terrible, but it’s stuck in the heads of millions of listeners, so even if it’s by complete accident, Rebecca Black did something right.
Two weeks from now no one’s going to be talking about Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” We’ll have moved on to the latest, greatest internet meme to take over social media networks. But until then we’re comfortable riding her fifteen minutes of Internet fame until there’s nothing left. Because we all secretly hope we’ll stumble on our own fifteen minutes of accidental fame.
It’s 2011’s twisted version of the American Dream.