What does Black’s “Friday” Say about our culture today?

It’s pretty easy to dismiss “Friday” as a shitty song – and it most certainly is. It’s also pretty easy to believe that such a song may “represent the downfall of American culture” or some other hyperbolic  sentiment on how a fleeting piece of awful pop entertainment implies the end of the essence of American civilization. I’m going to get into that on my next entry – and that one will be a doozy – but I’m here to talk about the pure idiotic spectacle that is Friday, a music video that has no legal right to see the light of day.

I’m not a music guy, to be honest; in fact, I’m kinda sorta looking for a person who knows music well but isn’t a snob; who can “bridge” the link among entertainment forms in relation to his or her knowledge of various forms of music, without overwhelming the piece into a music criticism screed. Pitch aside, I do know what I like, and I definitely know what I hate, and I indeed join the nearly two million people who “thumb down” this song.

This song and video is a product of ARK Music Factory, a “record label” that is pretty much an overwrought virtual music video machine, an overpriced version of that carnival sideshow attraction where you and your friends can overact and lip-sync in front of a green screen to your favorite songs (this was big in the late 80s/early 90s). While such an act would cost you maybe 100 bucks (20 bucks split among your buds isn’t too pricey), ARK charges $2000 – $4000 for the same thing, albeit they assist in the writing and distribution of the song too, which is inherently a sadder revelation.

Still, for the wealthy, or desperate, it isn’t an awful idea, and ARK claims it isn’t doing it for fame. In fact, if the whole thing was an elaborate joke or silly game, it really wouldn’t be that bad. Rich kids have spend a lot more on stupider things (I’m thinking of a too-young-to-drive Bow-Wow owning a lime green Beetle with an X-Box inside), so four grand on a disposable song and music video isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Somehow, though, Friday became a “hit,” and it’s a little unclear how that happened, or whether the song’s popularity is due to overwhelming, misguided enjoyment (like how young teens buy whatever pop-crap album some pop-crap artist releases) or pure hate masked as ironic approval (the same idea that made William Hung and Tay Zonday popular). It doesn’t seem as if ARK did anything extraordinary in pushing the song, other than dropping it on iTunes. Perhaps it’s just that there’s a particularly brand of awful that pervades the song that made it so notorious; even crappy garage bands put more thought into their songs than this.

But there’s also something else about Friday that’s striking. In terms of the realm of all-things awful, there’s nothing new about it. Shitty lyrics. Inexplicable moments in the video. Terrible green-screening. Clothing from another dimension, let alone decade. Incomprehensible “guest” rapper. Awful lip syncing and camera work. There’s hundreds of Youtube videos out there with the same amount of crap, with budgets larger that four thousand. But it seems that the complete combination of all those elements make Friday into a particularly infamous disaster.

And it’s not even that much different from the songs that make the billboards these days. If you heard this on the radio during a mix, would you even bat an eye? Probably not. Like most pop songs, certain moments have a distinct “likeable-ness” to them, and while this song almost has nil, I kinda enjoy the “Partying, Partying (Yeah!)” part, a line that’s essentially interchangeable in every dance single, ever.

But everything else in this song is unworldly, in the sense that it’s popularity beguiles its content. The opening lyrics:

7am, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal
Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’
Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends (My friends)

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

— are the lyrics your five year-old child would sing to him or herself during the morning routine before school. You know, when they sing about everything they do and see and kinda try to make it rhyme, but fail, but doesn’t let it bother them? This is what Black did, and what the rapper did as well, if one substituted “white suburbia” and “black ghetto” into said child’s surrounding environment.

In the end, though, the truth is, Friday says nothing about our culture, other than terrible things can spread quicker than expected. If we’re truly judging the world based on arbitrary pageviews on a song that is, objective and subjectively, an abomination, then we really need to re-establish how the entire judging process and really examine what we mean by culture. Because, seriously, confusion over the days of the week can’t really be what America is all about. There’s too many cute animal pictures to counteract that.

  1. #1 by Jon on May 3, 2011 - 4:38 pm

    You gotta love the creepy rap solo in that song though.

  2. #2 by Echoen on May 17, 2011 - 11:04 am

    Check the scene where it is night-time and she is riding with two other girls in the back seat. Note how the other girls have braces, the taller one on the right has her head fuzzed up most of the time, they have comparatively little makeup and their hair is not mono colored. This is an attempt to make Rebecca look prettier by surrounding her with uglier girls.
    The one on the left’s facial expressions creep me out though.

  3. #3 by Anonymous on May 26, 2011 - 11:05 am

    I think one part of the “popularity” of this song is that it’s considered a challenge to try and sing the song without cracking up and to try and somehow make it sound “good”. Thus why there have been so many karaoke parties and singers covering it. It’s like an Eye of Argon reading, but with music going along with it.

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