It’s hard to explain “Friday” to those of you who don’t live on the Internet for hours a day, but I’ll try:
About a week ago — last Friday, I think — a teenage singer named Rebecca Black released a YouTube video of herself singing a ghastly pop song called “Friday.” Actually, she didn’t release it; Ark Music Factory did. Ark is a vanity pop-music house, where well-to-do parents pay healthy-but-not-outrageous sums to have their little girls immortalized as pop singers. Black’s parents admit to paying $2,000. I think we can all agree that money would have been better-off in her college account, but it appears they got what they paid for.
I saw “Friday” for the first time last weekend, when the official video was at 13,000 views or so. It’s now closing in on 16 million, if that tells you anything. The song is catchy but atrocious — Black autotuned to a fare-thee-well, the lyrics brain-damaged:
Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today i-is Friday, Friday (Partyin’)
We-we-we so excited
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today
Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes after … wards
I don’t want this weekend to end
It was one big fat juicy trollbait for the whole internet, which roared its approval, delivering parodies, rants, remixes and the like. All in a week! And despite Black’s whining in her Daily Beast interview — “it feels like I’m being cyberbullied” — I think we can all agree she wouldn’t be on “Good Morning America” otherwise, so she maybe should chill. Also, wipe off about 70 percent of that makeup. You’re 13!
Over the years I’ve enjoyed other stories of vanity-publishing fame, my favorite being that of John Trubee. I howled with laughter, reading his essay in Spin, about how working the overnight shift at a convenience store had made him insane, so much so that he ripped an ad from the back of one of the tabloids he was selling at 3 a.m., scribbled some angry lyrics and sent them off to a company in Nashville offering professional analysis of your song, hoping he’d get a reply saying he was sick and needed to see a psychiatrist. The chorus ran:
Stevie Wonder’s penis is erect because he’s blind,
repeated several times.
Instead, he was told his song had huge potential, and that for $79.95, they’d cut a demo for him. He sent the money, they did (changing the chorus from “Stevie Wonder” to “a blind man”), and the song became an underground sensation. Oh look, here’s the essay. Oh look, here’s a bouquet of links about the whole story.
Some years after that, an editor tossed a column idea on my desk — a traveling company was passing through town, seeking singing talent for possible development by country-music industry starmakers. They agreed to let me watch the “auditions,” and it was clear from the start the whole thing was a scam. They were offering to make, for a fee, a “professionally produced video” that would screen on local Nashville television, potentially reaching the A&R men, agents, managers and others who were always on the lookout for the next cowboy hat.
Those who’ve seen “American Idol” know what the auditions were like, each singer worse than the last. And yet, all but one were offered the deal: Travel to Nashville at your own expense, pay $600 or so for the video production costs, await stardom. The only one who wasn’t invited was, ironically, the best singer by far. She also had some sort of skeletal birth defect that confined her to a wheelchair in a semi-reclining position, although that didn’t stop her from winning karaoke contests all over town.
Once I got the outlines of the arrangement, I went back to the office and called one of the Nashville newspapers. I asked where channel 56 was on the cable dial, and what time “Country Music Star Search” ran. Answer: It was a public-access channel, and the middle of the night. Then I called the singers who were already packing their bags and told them. To the last one, they all said it didn’t make any difference, that you had to spend money to make your dreams come true, and went back to gassing up the car.
I came away with more respect for the producers, who at least drew the line at taking money from a disabled woman, than for the idiots who thought they were the next Garth Brooks. Six hundred bucks isn’t so much to pay for a reality check.
How to wrap up? How about with this gallery of other Ark Music Factory product? I recommend CJ Fam’s “Ordinary Pop Star.”
Let’s keep all the bloggage light today, shall we? It’s Friday, after all:
Those of you who thought “The Player” was the last word in Hollywood bullshit will be pleased to know the bar has been raised yet again: The “Red Dawn” remake, shot in Detroit last year or the year before (can’t remember), is being digitally revised, to change the villains from Chinese to North Koreans.
Michigan’s new attorney general loves Michigan’s new attorney general.
Just what America needs: Another “Charlie’s Angels” remake.
Happy Friday, happy weekend, all. I’m outta here.