Is Rebecca Black the very first pop star of Gen Z? Quite possibly – just six years after the launch of YouTube, she accidentally went viral with her auto-tune-heavy track ‘Friday’. As she reeled off the days of the week in a nonsensical fashion, and agonised over whether to call shotgun on her mate’s front seat, the song was accompanied by a low-budget, green screened music video. The amateurish song exploded online, briefly turning the 13-year-old into the Main Character of the internet.
When ‘Friday’ turned Rebecca Black into the week’s biggest punchline, she could have taken if offline – but instead, she seemed determined to turn things around. Just a few months later, she made a cameo in Katy Perry’s ‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)’ video, while her 2007 follow-up ‘Saturday’ saw her take the piss out of her viral moment with a knowing wink. Since then, the Californian artist has been steadily releasing music of increasingly impressive quality – peaking with last year’s parping synth-pop singles ‘Closer’ and ‘Self-Sabotage’. Earlier this year, 10 years on from ‘Friday’ Black tied her surreal rise to notoriety up with a neat bow, enlisting 3OH!3, Big Freedia, 100 gecs‘ Dylan Brady and Dorian Electra for a deliciously chaotic remix.
Fronted by a vacantly grinning Black with slime pouring out of her mouth, new release ‘Rebecca Black Was Here’ is filled with that same sense of fun. While her 2017 debut EP ‘RE/BL’ felt like a broadly underwhelming collection of pop songs on which she struggled to unearth any newness, its six-track follow-up gives a far clearer sense of who Black is as a musician, knitting together the weirdness of hyper-pop with the melodic heft of mainstream pop.
On the energetic ‘Girlfriend’ Black ponders rekindling a relationship, despite her friends’ advice. “This time, it’s gonna be different,” she sings wryly – imitating every single one of us who has contemplated texting an ex after a few too many shandies. “I’m getting back with my girlfriend.” Though her music has touched on queer themes before (“Told you I could smash your petty trash labels” she sang on Dorian Electra collaboration ‘Edgelord’ last year), ‘Rebecca Black Was Here’ is even more plain-speaking.
Though ‘Rebecca Black Was Here’ takes numerous clear cues from contemporary pop – notably, the experimental and robotic music of Charli XCX, the closely related hyper-pop scene and PC Music, plus the juggernaut melodies of Katy Perry – it also succeeds in centring Black’s own voice. Finally, she seems to have taken control of the narrative which ran wild beyond her control for so many years. She’s always been a dab hand at getting the last laugh.
Release date: June 16
Release label: RB Records