Rebecca Black’s debut single “Friday” is a Gen Z cultural touchstone. Since the music video’s September 2011 rerelease on YouTube (after initially being released in February of that same year), it has amassed nearly 150 million views and 3.8 million dislikes. While the song itself is unremarkable, although ironically enjoyable, its pop culture legacy over the past decade can’t be ignored.
“Friday” is not the only song of its kind, although it’s easily the most (in)famous. April 2012 saw the release of Jenna Rose’s debut single “My Jeans,” which to date has over 3 million views and 44 thousand dislikes, and Alison Gold’s “Chinese Food” came October 2013. That song has over 19 million views and 270 thousand dislikes.
All three songs are memorable for similar reasons. They each have generic, dated production. They each have unfitting, forced rap verses from adult men. And they each have complex, nuanced lyrics that reflect the intricacies of American adolescence.
“Kicking in the front seat / Sitting in the back seat / Gotta make my mind up / Which seat can I take?”
Most notably, each song has a disproportionate ratio of about 4:1 dislikes to likes. Alison Gold’s “Chinese Food” is a clear exception; the video fully deserves its dislikes, as it features racist imagery and lyrics that stereotype Asians and Asian Americans and cross clear cultural boundaries. The music video should have been deleted altogether, but the then-12-year-old Alison Gold dismissed the allegations of racism as “haters” who “are going to hate.”
While “Friday” is just alright and “My Jeans” is infectiously fun to listen to, both songs will be permanently tainted in the collective Gen Z consciousness.
But that hasn’t stopped Rebecca Black. The 23-year-old has continued to drop intermittent singles and covers since her iconic debut ten years ago. Most notably, she released her debut EP RE / BL in 2017 and secured a feature on non-binary hyperpop prince Dorian Electra’s 2020 project My Agenda. Now, she’s releasing a hyperpop remix of the song that started it all.
With features from Big Freedia, 3OH!3 and Electra, and production from Dylan Brady of 100 gecs, the 2021 remix is a completely experimental reimaging of “Friday.” Rebecca Black’s original vocals are pitched higher and sped up, almost reminiscent of nightcore.
My biggest complaint is that each of the artists feels like they should be featured for twice as long. Dorian Electra pops in for a second verse that’s over faster than Rebecca Black can decide where to sit in her friend’s car on the way to school. 3OH!3’s appearance in the first half of the bridge sucks the energy out of the song before reinjecting it intravenously. Big Freedia’s intro to the song gets me immediately hyped, but her second half of the bridge unnecessarily slows the song down just like 3OH!3’s. To think they took out the original bridge for this!
I enjoyed the production but was a little disappointed. Among Brady’s long list of production credits, this remix just isn’t up to par. It could have hit harder and been more experimental, à la his work on 100 gecs’s own “money machine” or his remix of Charli XCX’s “Blame It On Your Love” with Lizzo.
Is it an amazing remix? No, it’s not. But there wasn’t all that much to work with, considering the mess that is the original “Friday,” so I’ll take what I can get.
The remix’s saving grace is its absolutely bonkers music video. It’s a campy, psychedelic, fever-dream parody of the original video. Rebecca Black sports six-inch acrylic nails and a latex leotard while dancing in the backseat with her friends (who have been replaced with rage comic characters) before driving Dorian Electra off the road. 3OH!3 is superimposed over the moon before Big Freedia joins Rebecca and they fly off into the sunset, revealing the word “FRIDAY” spelled out in lights across the continental U.S. The video is an instant sugar rush before you come crashing down when the song ends.
The “Friday” remix is weird, unexpected and a perfect 2021 tribute to the original song. It wasn’t what I expected or something I thought I wanted, but it’s exactly what I needed.