Rebecca Black – ‘Rebecca Black Was Here’ EP review: a viral star finds her voice

She became an internet punchline with 'Friday' 10 years ago, but the Californian artist's personality shines through on her newest project

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.

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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

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