May 16, 2022

11 years after viral hit ‘Friday,’ singer Rebecca Black has new music and sold-out shows

View Original Notice ? 11 years after viral hit ‘Friday,’ singer Rebecca Black has new music and sold-out shows

When Rebecca Black pops onto a Zoom call, the 24-year-old singer cheerfully announces she can hardly wait for this new year to get underway.

“This is definitely the biggest thing that I’ve ever, ever done,” Black says of plans that include a U.S. and European club tour behind her mini-album “Rebecca Black Was Here.” She comes to the Troubadour in West Hollywood for a sold-out show on Friday, Jan. 21.

“It’s the thing that I feel like I have waited the longest for, which is the opportunity to present the show that I’ve always wanted,” she says.

  • Rebecca Black is seen here with Slayyyter in a scene from their music video for “Read My Mind” released in December 2021. In January 2022, Black sets out on a sold-out club tour behind her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Photo by Carianne Older @peggyshootsfilm)

  • Rebecca Black was 13 when she gave her first-ever interview to the Orange County Register in March 2011. At the time, Black and her music video “Friday” had just gone viral on YouTube. (Photo PAUL RODRIGUEZ/Orange County Register)

  • Rebecca Black embarked on a sold-out club tour behind her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” The singer whose viral song and video “Friday” thrust her into the spotlight as a 13-year-old in 2011 plays the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Friday, January 21. (Photo by Carianne Older / @peggyshootsfilm)

  • Rebecca Black is seen here with Slayyyter in a scene from their music video for “Read My Mind” released in December 2021. In January 2022, Black sets out on a sold-out club tour behind her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Photo by Carianne Older @peggyshootsfilm)

  • Rebecca Black, seen here in a scene from her music video for the song “Worth It For The Feeling,” embarks on a sold-out club tour in January 2022 for her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Image courtesy of Rebecca Black)

  • Rebecca Black, seen here in the video for her song “Personal,” embarked on a sold-out club tour in January 2022 behind her new EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Photo by Jade DeRose)

  • Rebecca Black, seen here in the video for her song “Personal,” embarked on a sold-out club tour in January 2022 behind her new EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Photo by Jade DeRose)

  • Rebecca Black, seen here in a scene from her music video for the song “Worth It For The Feeling,” embarks on a sold-out club tour in January 2022 for her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Image courtesy of Rebecca Black)

  • Rebecca Black embarked on a sold-out club tour behind her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” The singer whose viral song and video “Friday” thrust her into the spotlight as a 13-year-old in 2011 plays the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Friday, January 21. (Photo by Carianne Older / @peggyshootsfilm)

  • Rebecca Black is seen here with Slayyyter in a scene from their music video for “Read My Mind” released in December 2021. In January 2022, Black sets out on a sold-out club tour behind her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Photo by Carianne Older @peggyshootsfilm)

  • Rebecca Black embarked on a sold-out club tour behind her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” The singer whose viral song and video “Friday” thrust her into the spotlight as a 13-year-old in 2011 plays the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Friday, January 21. (Photo by Carianne Older / @peggyshootsfilm)

  • Rebecca Black, seen here in the video for her song “Personal,” embarked on a sold-out club tour in January 2022 behind her new EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Photo by Jade DeRose)

  • Rebecca Black, seen here in a scene from her music video for the song “Worth It For The Feeling,” embarks on a sold-out club tour in January 2022 for her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Image courtesy of Rebecca Black)

  • Rebecca Black is seen here with Slayyyter in a scene from their music video for “Read My Mind” released in December 2021. In January 2022, Black sets out on a sold-out club tour behind her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Photo by Carianne Older @peggyshootsfilm)

  • Rebecca Black, seen here in a scene from her music video for the song “Worth It For The Feeling,” embarks on a sold-out club tour in January 2022 for her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Image courtesy of Rebecca Black)

  • Rebecca Black, seen here in a scene from her music video for the song “Worth It For The Feeling,” embarks on a sold-out club tour in January 2022 for her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Image courtesy of Rebecca Black)

  • Rebecca Black, seen here in a scene from her music video for the song “Worth It For The Feeling,” embarks on a sold-out club tour in January 2022 for her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” (Image courtesy of Rebecca Black)

  • Rebecca Black embarked on a sold-out club tour behind her EP “Rebecca Black Was Here.” The singer whose viral song and video “Friday” thrust her into the spotlight as a 13-year-old in 2011 plays the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Friday, January 21. (Photo by Carianne Older / @peggyshootsfilm)

  • Rebecca Black is seen here at 19 in December 2016 during a session in Hollywood with her vocal coach. (Photo by Ed Crisostomo, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Internet phenomenon and Orange County singer Rebecca Black, admits she’s “quirky” and “weird,” during a December 2011 interview with the Orange County Register. That year she was the most googled person of 2011. (Photo by MINDY SCHAUER, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER)

  • Rebecca Black was 13 when she gave her first-ever interview to the Orange County Register in March 2011. At the time, Black and her music video “Friday” had just gone viral on YouTube. (Photo PAUL RODRIGUEZ/Orange County Register)

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Black, of course, was the 13-year-old kid who famously went viral with the song “Friday” in 2011. She was an Orange County middle schooler when she released a music video for the song, which got a few thousand views in its first month on YouTube.

That should have been that, but as the video bubbled into the online zeitgeist a month later it went from 4,000 to 13 million views in a week, and a tidal wave of online abuse crashed over Black, as commenters tore into not just the quality of the song and its video but the girl who sang it, too.

Most kids would have crawled under the covers and not come out. Black, despite her parents’ concerns, leaned in to the weird kind of fame that “Friday” provided. She appeared on TV and radio, appeared in a Katy Perry music video, too. A music manager signed her, career plans were made.

After high school she moved to Los Angeles, releasing a single or a video now and then, and occasionally playing a showcase here and there, none of which really shifted the world’s perception of who she was.

Then around the time the pandemic shut everything down, Black took stock of who she was and what she wanted to do.

“I didn’t really expect anything out of that time,” she says of those early months of lockdown. “I moved back to Orange County, well, half moved back, and was definitely dealing with some things in my personal life.

“It was also about the time I came out as queer, and so there was a lot in my personal world shifting,” Black says. “I think that, strangely, the alone time and the ability to just be in my space where I felt most comfortable, with the people I felt most comfortable with, allowed me to drown out a lot of the voices of what I should and shouldn’t be doing.

“And that just allowed for really honest music,” Black says. “I really did it with a lot of concern for what other people would think, and without the idea of like, ‘Now I’m going to create this project,’ or, ‘I’m going to create my first project as a queer person.’

“I just started to write, and that allowed me to really understand what I was feeling.”

Time heals

The Restoration of Rebecca Black started in public on Feb. 10, 2020, the ninth anniversary of “Friday,” when Black relaunched her Instagram page with a pair of photographs — one of her in knee-high red boots, a black minidress, and a blunt-cut bob in her Silver Lake home that day and another from the “Friday” music video.

“I’m trying to remind myself more and more that every day is a new opportunity to shift your reality and lift your spirit,” she wrote in part. “You are not defined by any one choice or thing. Time heals and nothing is finite.”

Two months later, Black came out as queer, a moment that today she credits with freeing her not only to be the person she is but also unlock the songs she’s since written, too.

“It was the only way that I could keep going,” she says of coming out. “Because I know that I’m only 24, but at the same time, I’ve been in this industry for 10-and-a-half years now. And that time, especially over the course of growing up and being a teenager and really figuring out how to form any sense of self, can feel very exhausting.”

There were times, Black says, when she felt like she’d had it, that the dream she’d fought for no longer was worth the toll it took.

“I found myself at times so afraid of failure and so afraid of anything, really,” she says. “And that drained any joy out of what I was able to do, and it drained a lot of my motivation.”

Embracing herself also led to breakthroughs musically, Black says. Where once she felt she needed to take the advice of managers and producers to fulfill their vision of what a Rebecca Black song should be, now she wrote and sang and recorded the things that made her happiest.

“I had to figure out how to think my own thoughts for lack of a better phrase,” she says.” That is the only reason why I’ve been able to still do it after a decade.”

Rebecca Black is here

“Girlfriend,” the first single off “Rebecca Black Was Here,” arrived in January 2021. A sparkling pop anthem you can imagine Robyn or Carly Rae Jepsen singing, its lyrics portray a young queer woman longing to get back together with her ex. (Billboard magazine highlighted her live performance of it at the GLAAD Media Awards as one of the top five musical moments of the show.)

A few weeks later, on the 10th anniversary of “Friday,” Black released a hyperpop remix and futuristic video in collaboration with Dorian Electra, Big Freedia and 3OH!3, produced by Dylan Brady of 100 Gecs (who really should bring out Black to do the song with them at Coachella in April).

The rest of “Rebecca Black Was Here” incorporated those styles as well as a good deal of electropop for a thoroughly modern, hip collection of songs, many of which now have received equally edgy music videos.

“It’s fun to tackle concepts that feel impossible,” Black says of the videos that followed, many of them directed by friend and frequent collaborator Weston Allen. “Especially being an independent artist, a lot of what we’ve created this year at the start felt very impossible, because everything is very expensive.”

The video for “Personal” portrays her alternately as an increasingly unhinged Girlboss character and an “American Psycho”-like serial killer armed with a bedazzled chainsaw. The clip for the sultry ballad “Worth It For The Feeling” sees her as a blonde-wigged seductress in a red bustier and fishnet stockings.

These are grown-up looks for Black, but not that far from the theater kid she was when she made “Friday,” Black says.

“It’s just fun not to try to be taken so seriously,” she says of the videos. “And what’s funny is that this is probably the most seriously anybody has ever taken me in my life.”

Anticipating the future

The Rebecca Black Was Here tour kicked off on Jan. 13 before heading to New York City, Chicago, San Francisco and West Hollywood. In May, she heads to Paris, Amsterdam, London and Manchester. (The Troubadour requires masks and proof of full vaccination. For details and updates go to Troubadour.com.)

The tour, as with the EP and each single, delivers a fresh set of anxieties, Black says.

“Anticipation, no matter what, is always going to take years off my life,” she says. “At the end of the day, no matter how many people tell you they feel really excited about something, the anticipation and self-doubt never really goes away.”

But this round, Black adds, there’s also a lot of excitement, too.

“I find so much more joy and fun in taking risks rather than playing it too safe,” she says. “I feel like what I get nervous about now more than anything is, ‘Have I done enough? Have I challenged myself enough?’

“I try to just enjoy and feel OK with what we’ve done.”

And now, looking back the 11 years to “Friday,” there’s more a feeling of pride – for surviving the online bullies, using the experience as motivation, and sticking to it until reaching this point – than regret.

“I think I’m just glad that I never gave up,” Black says. “I get that question a lot: ‘How, like, why do you still do it?’”

She laughs at that and admits it has often been difficult to carry on.

“I have come close to feeling so lost and not understanding how to get myself back on my feet,” Black says. “I’m just glad that I was able to find the same love that I had that weirdly got me to ‘Friday.’

“The love I had performing and creating as a kid, I’m really glad that I found that again. And I’m proud of myself for that.”

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