The following entry is a Rhetorical Criticism of Rebecca Blacks Song and Video “Friday” in the form of a Narrative Analysis. For those who haven’t seen or heard Rebecca Black’s song here is a link where you can watch.
By: Julia Yaroshinsky
“Friday” by Rebecca Black is a song that recently became infamous this passing summer for simply being a terrible song. Rebecca Black’s parents paid the company Ark Music Factory to produce the song and video for Rebecca. The song and video are both mainly syntagmatic (one event follows another in a logical format) with occasional flashes to an animated calendar and dark room with coloured lights in which Rebecca is singing. The song and video follow each other hand in hand. For example the first lyric is “ Seven AM waking up in the morning” and the image in the video is of Rebecca waking up at Seven AM as her alarm clock shows in the picture. The song and video move from: a calendar flipping through the days, to Rebecca waking up, to her getting picked up at the bus stop by her friends in a convertible, to her in the evening in another convertible with a different group of friends, to her in a street with many cars parked on it about to enter a party, back to the calendar, to a rapper known as Patrice Wilson rapping in his car, then finally to Rebecca singing at a house party. The goal of this analysis is prove that Rebecca Black’s song “Friday” sends negative underlying messages but most of those messages are not necessarily coherent or possess any fidelity. The messages in particular being sent are: “Weekends are fun and weekdays are not”, “Reckless driving is appropriate”, and “You don’t need to be talented to be a famous musician”. Lets first examine the message of “Weekends are fun and weekdays are not”.
The message that “Weekends are fun and weekdays are not” is one of the more obvious messages in “Friday”. First lets look at the events in this song. The song moves from Rebecca getting up in the morning to her going out at night or you can look at the song as moving from a boring morning to an exciting night. The causal relation between this boring morning turning in to an exciting night is the fact that it is Friday. This is the first way the message of “Weekends are fun and weekdays are not” comes through. If the day had been Wednesday it probably would have been a boring evening. The message comes through stronger though in Rebecca’s third verse where she sings about the days of the week. She sings about how “today is Friday, Friday (Partyin’), We-we-we so excited” and then at the end of the verse sings “I don’t want this weekend to end” implying that she would like to avoid regular weekdays. This message “Weekends are fun and weekdays are not.” is a negative one because it implies that weekdays cannot be fun, or not as much fun as weekends. This message is not one to worry much over but the next message to be analyzed is.
There are two instances in Rebecca Black’s video and song where reckless driving is made to look glamorous. The characters in Rebecca’s video are flat and are supposed to represent regular teenagers living in North America today. This includes Rebecca herself who is a teenage girl who lives a seemingly “regular” life with everyday decisions like if she should sit in front or back seat of the convertible her friend is driving. These “regular” teenagers are driving convertibles and driving them recklessly as the song and video describe. In the scene where Rebecca is getting driven at night her and her friends are standing in the back seat of a moving convertible rather being buckled in. At this stage in the video the song describes “driving on the highway, crusin so fast, I want time to fly”. This line makes driving fast look thrilling rather than serious responsibility. Patrice Wilson makes reckless driving glamorous again when he raps his part in Rebecca’s song. In the video he is shown driving with one hand on the wheel as an ambiguous city blurs behind him demonstrating unsafe driving once again to the viewers of the video. In the song he describes himself as “I’m drivin’, cruisin’ (Yeah, yeah), Fast lanes, switchin’ lanes, Wit’ a car up on my side (Woo!)” again showing that driving is thrilling and going fast is preferable. Those who view this video might interpret teenage drivers as reckless drivers or teenage drivers might take away from this video that reckless driving is ok and something teenagers should do. There is one last message sent through this song and video that some might consider just as harmful to the world as reckless driving.
“You don’t need to be talented to be a famous musician.” This message is probably one of the least obvious in Rebecca Black’s song and video. It is the least obvious because you do not see this message by analyzing the events, characters, setting and etc needed for a narrative analysis. There is only one aspect of a narrative analysis that gives way to realizing this message and that way is by examining the intended audience. The intended audience of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” was average North American teenagers like herself. The audience she got was a worldwide audience of all ages that loved to hate her song. The world critiqued her song for being repetitive and heavily auto-tuned. It gained massive popular unpopularity through social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. In a matter of days the entire world was talking about how bad Rebecca Black’s “Friday” was. This is where the message “You don’t need to be talented to be a famous musician” comes through, her audience which went from being target audience of teenagers to anybody involved with social media making her wildly infamous for being a bad musician. The only question left in this analysis is how much do we really buy into the messages underlying this song and how much do they agree with us.
The video Friday lacks coherence. The luxury shown in this video is completely unrealistic. Rebecca’s friends who look no older than 15 are shown driving luxurious convertibles and are going to large house parties that possess stage lighting for people like Rebecca Black to perform. This picture is completely unrealistic and rational individuals are capable of seeing this. The song on the other hand seems rather realistic in the sense that it sounds like a song about a regular teenager being excited about the weekend. On the other hand though the song still lack coherence because it is hard to buy into a message that doesn’t appeal to you on the surface and most people would agree that “Friday” is a song that is generally not very appealing. Thus because of this messages of “Weekends are fun and weekdays are not.” and “Reckless driving is appropriate.” get lost and the only message to come through is that “You don’t need talent to be a famous musician.” These morals are not morals we would like to come to accept on the other hand. Society prefers that people who become famous musicians to be talented and for people to be responsible drivers. The only moral society may be willing to accept is the idea that “Weekends are fun and weekdays are not.” because weekdays are meant for work and weekends are meant for relaxing and letting loose. Therefore Rebecca Black’s main and most obvious message is the only message with any fidelity to it but this message as stated before gets lost because of the lack of coherence.
Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is more than just a bad pop song that went wild through social media. It is a song with negative messages in it and those messages are being consumed by its viewer. The strength that those messages have on affecting the viewer varies depending on where the message lies – inside the lyrics of the song and the video or outside the song entirely. What we do know for sure is that many of us may never look at the day Friday without being mildly irritated.