Rebecca Black Is Making A Comeback. Here's Why

A decade after online celebrity Rebecca Black released the music video for the viral hit "Friday," the singer celebrated the anniversary of the song that made her famous in her early teens in a move that some might perceive as an act of reclamation: releasing a remix of the single with a contemporary twist and a slew of cameos by other artists. 

"Tonight marks 10 years," tweeted Black on Feb. 9, 2021, referring to the debut of her viral hit "Friday," which occurred when Black was only 13 years old. The post also announced artists featured in the new version of the single, including rapper Big Freedia, electronic music duo 3OH!3, and singer Dorian Electra. 

The remix has received a warm reception. Billboard called it a "glitched-out, star-studded revision" of her earlier work and praised it as a "hyperpop symphony" with an "ethereal" feel. These positive reviews provide a stark contrast to the largely negative criticism the original "Friday" received ten years prior, when it was once described as "the worst song ever made." So what has changed for Black between now and then, and does the remix mark a bona fide comeback for Rebecca Black? 

Rebecca Black had no idea her debut would go viral

As a teen growing up in Orange County, California, Rebecca Black was a self-described theater kid who loved to perform on stage and sing. In an effort to break out into other areas of entertainment, Black and her mom approached the executives of ARK Music Factory. 

According to a 2011 piece in the Los Angeles TimesARK was "a vanity label of sorts" that often attracted aspiring young performers. "For a fee, usually between $2,000 and $4,000, hopeful celebs-in-the-making [were] given a song to record as well as time with a producer-engineer...a photo shoot, image consulting, a music video and promotion. The singer owns the rights to the master recording, and Ark owns the publishing rights to the song," the LA Times reported.

In an in-depth November 2020 interview on the podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking, Black described the piecemeal process that went into making the music video that skyrocketed her to fame – for better or for worse. "To have all these expectations of what the music industry looks like, this was not a glamorous day," she said, recalling the day of her video shoot. "This was a day where my dad ran out in the middle of the shoot to go get green screen cardboard paper, or just cardboard paper that was green, to end up being like a green screen. And like, we used leaf blowers as a wind machine and we, like, rode around my neighborhood with this convertible with, like a... I don't know. It was very janky, for lack of a better word."

Rebecca Black became famous overnight

On the Terrible, Thanks for Asking podcast, Rebecca Black told host Nora McInerny that she was kept in the dark by ARK Music after production wrapped on "Friday." She claims she didn't know what the final version of the song would sound and look like. She also contextualized the experience, stating that the project was never meant to be a work for mass consumption — rather, it was more akin to a vanity project or a gift (albeit an expensive one) from her parents. "After we shot the video, I mean, I think probably like once every couple weeks I'd wonder, like, 'I wonder what happened to that,'" Black told McInerny. "I moved on with my day to day."

Whether Black knew it or not, however, her life was about to irrevocably change after ARK Music released "Friday" on Feb. 10, 2011, via YouTube. The song went viral on social media, racking up more than one million views by March 2011. Unfortunately, much of the attention was negative. Twitter and Facebook users lambasted the single's heavily auto-tuned vocals and repetitive lyrics. Despite this, the frenzy over "Friday" earned Black's tune a spot on the Billboard 100 and appearances on popular shows such as The Tonight Show with Jay LenoBut the ramifications of Black's instant fame would result in a years-long nightmare for the singer.

The 'Friday' fallout was a nightmare for Rebecca Black

In a 2015 Buzzfeed profile published five years after she became a YouTube sensation, Rebecca Black held nothing back in an eloquent, reflective recollection of the pain she endured following the release of the song that, for better or for worse, made her a household name. Black, who was only 13 years old when "Friday" went viral, said she quickly became a pariah in middle school and received a deluge of death threats from strangers online. The constant barrage of horrific criticism from thousands of internet users prompted her to leave her junior high and opt for homeschooling, all of which compounded Black's sense of isolation. 

"I couldn't really relate to what my friends were going through anymore, and they couldn't really relate to me, either," Black recalled in her BuzzFeed interview. "All of a sudden, I had to grow up really fast."

Though Black continued to pursue a career in music by piggybacking off of the success of her viral debut, she also claimed her former music manager, Debra Baum, exerted a lot of control over her life. (According to The Hollywood Reporter, Baum was "charged with four counts of violating the Talent Scam Prevention Act in 2015.") Black suffered a mental health crisis, reportedly fired Baum in 2013, and then began to work her way back to an emotional equilibrium. 

Rebecca Black's 'Friday' remix was years in the making

Despite the years of bullying and harassment that Rebecca Black endured in the years following the release of "Friday," both by hoards of online trolls and by her peers in person (Per BuzzFeed, "kids would TP her house frequently, or throw fruit at her at lunch, or pour milk in her locker"), Black has seemingly now emerged victorious. At age 23, the singer-songwriter's re-release of "Friday" has received far-reaching acclaim. It seems the only Internet jibbing in sight stems from the fact that the remix was, as The Verge pointed out, released on a Wednesday.

For Black, this moment has been a long time coming. "I'd had the idea to do this remix of Friday for years leading up to now, but honestly it was also mildly insane for me to think anyone else would want to be a part of it," she said in a statement (via Billboard). "As I started talking about it with other artists and producers, I couldn't believe how stoked people were about it. I am thrilled to have some of my favorite artists (and people) as a part of this moment." 

If Black is finally making a comeback, we can't wait to see what happens next.