Rebecca Black: 5 Reasons We Should Have Seen Her Coming

Categories: Pop Life

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If you're on the Internet - and it would be tricky for you to be reading this if you weren't - you've undoubtedly become familiar with one Rebecca Black. If not, allow us to acquaint you. This should do it.

She's done us one favor: She's eclipsed Charlie Sheen as the nation's object of twisted fascination and scorn. Wow, is that song ever bad. All of those studio effects, and they still couldn't make her sound like she wasn't singing directly out of her nostrils. She sounds like an army of robot Fran Dreschers.

But let us not attack the poor kid too harshly. She's only 13, after all, and we'd hate to give her or anyone else an excuse to use the moral-panic buzzword-du-jour "cyberbullying." Let us instead take a step back and remember: She's not the only one responsible for this audio equivalent to a stream of diseased elephant piss.

In fact, one could say that in a way, we're all to blame for Rebecca Black. She's the logical conclusion to the trend of fluffy, shiny teen-pop that has seen such a virulent resurgence in recent years. Allow us to explain.

5. POP IDOLS ARE MADE, NOT BORN

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There are kings, and there are kingmakers. Kings these days are usually lucky simpletons who happen to fit a certain profile, or who can be wedged into one with relative ease. Kingmakers are the truly scary bastards. They're the ones who have narrowed down the tricks and traps of fame to a simple formula, who have squeezed all the fun, spontaneity, and excitement out of an ascent to stardom by use of focus groups, analysts, and public relations dogsbodies.

The kingmakers seize an affable child with a certain amount of charisma and shoehorn that kid into the tween heartthrob profile, a cookie-cutter identity in which the only unique attribute you are allowed to have is your haircut. Everything else is scientifically managed to appeal to just the right demographic, the youth of the nation who have allowance money, but haven't yet developed the taste to spend it on anything worthwhile.

You're told how to act, how to think, what to say, what to sing, and what to wear. You're given a cut-and-dry identity before you've even old enough to really have one. Is it any wonder that when the kids get a little older, they inevitably flip out and rebel? They've been suffocated for so long that they explode into basket cases. And meanwhile, the handlers behind the scenes reap the profits even as they scour for the next sacrificial lamb.

Who's behind Rebecca Black? We don't know yet. But they should know that our ire isn't directed so much at Rebecca herself, but squarely at them. Rebecca is just a kid. These cynical manipulators, on the other hand, know exactly what they are doing.


4. THE PROCESS HAS COMPLETELY ELIMINATED THE NEED FOR TALENT

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Until quite recently, there was talent involved in at least some aspects of pop music. Yes, sometimes even bad pop music masks genuine talent; before his reign as champion of cheese-soaked overproduction, Justin Bieber became popular with nothing but his guitar, his voice, and a YouTube account.

If the performer wasn't particularly vocally talented - we're looking at you, Britney Spears - they could still bring something engaging to the table, even if it was just slick dance moves, a great ass, and the best record producers in the business. But no longer do you need a Dr. Luke or a Timbaland to transform something terrible into something that might actually sell on iTunes.

The truth is, any asshole can learn to work ProTools and AutoTune well enough to turn anything - absolutely anything - into a pop song. Sometimes these tools are used for good, as in the following musically and philosophically beautiful video.

But more often than not, they're used for evil, to try and foist some talentless performer upon us, fool us into thinking what we're seeing has artistic merit. But consider: Lady Gaga, like her or not, has the talent to arrange and perform all of her songs solo, with nothing more than herself and a piano. Can Rebecca Black, or any number of recent pop artists, do the same?

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16 comments
Lala
Lala

She´s not even a rich white girl... she´s a middle class Mexican girl... her grandmother is one of the most famous historians from a major Mexican University...

Cory Sinclair
Cory Sinclair

This is one of the best articles Rocks Off has posted in a while. I love that Rebecca Black is the new Charlie Sheen. I wonder if she lives with a model and a porn star.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

For the record, I kind of love her, and not in a hipster ironic way. I watched her interview on Good Morning America and when they asked her about Justin Beiber she exploded into a nervous, giddy, goofy 13-year-old. It was utterly endearing.

Fun.Fun.Fun.Fun.

Juli
Juli

i would just like to say, i do not like this song because yes it is empty, but don't trash Miley, or the Jonas Brothers or Justin Bieber, they actually wrote songs that are art, who is to decide what art is anyway? art is an expression, which means there can be no norm for art! i mean look at modern paintings these days, a blob of paint on a canvas is not art to me, but in some way it expresses the artists feelings the only way possible!! i liked part of this article, until your comment about them being "insubstantial performers" they have a lot more talent than some of these other bands out there, that dont even write their own songs. for instance i heard The Strokes on SNL the other night, they are HORRIBLE, he was off key the whole time, the guitar playing was bland and the lyrics weren't that great either (and they probably wrote the songs they played!) i just think you crossed the line about a few things here.

Thraeryn
Thraeryn

Thank god you linked "We Are All Connected" later in the article. It was the necessary brain++; antidote to the mellon baller Ms. Black used on my frontal lobe.

Craig
Craig

The Internet is what you make it.

And I don't make mine with You Tube or Facebook or Twit.

There's a whole other world out there, folks!

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

Apparently you are correct. Everything is scientifically (statistically probably) managed to appeal to just the right demographic with Forbes predicting an earnings stream of $1 Million for the iTunes download and another $20,000 from the YouTube version.

The song continues to chart in iTunes top 50 songs.

And I agree that Rebecca Black doesn't much care that it's Friday and her week is not a disaster but it is fairly obvious to me at least that there are millions of kids out there who do see their week as a disaster and hope and pray they can have a Friday like Rebecca and her attractive buds.

Probably simple, plain and chubby white kids from low income families.

I think Riesman, et al. identified this group many years ago as the LONELY CROWD {Google}.

But at least the lyrics have a message that is understood by the intended audience and perhaps that is the lesson that we can all learn this.

When writing lyrics take a moment to consider if you intended audience has any idea what the hell you are singing about.

Even the Lonely Crowd has money to spend on iTunes.

japandemic
japandemic

What a fun, entertaining and informative article!

Wait, why is "hipsters" one of the tags? Or is that always one of the tags?

John Seaborn Gray
John Seaborn Gray

She kind of does seem like a sweet kid. Let's hope she doesn't get ruined.

Gary Packwood
Gary Packwood

Julie, wouldn't it be much easier to ask if people - in large numbers - plunk down the cash to see or hear music or art?

Large numbers of people don't usually all make stupid or ignorant decision with their cash all at the same time.

It's not the critic that counts....

Craig
Craig

strokes are off key on purpose

as opposed to "on-key" faux vocals of the titty tweens

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

But at least the lyrics have a message that is understood by the intended audience and perhaps that is the lesson that we can all learn this.

"Today is Friday, tomorrow is Saturday..."

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