Thought Catalog

A Rhetorical Analysis of Rebecca Black's Viral Hit "Friday"

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Cory Matthews on TGIF’s Boy Meets World once said, “Friday, I love Friday. Soon I’m gonna be home for the whole weekend.” Eighteen years later, 13-year-old pop singer Rebecca Black echoes this notion with a subtle rebellion against the teeny boppers of the 21st century. In her first single “Friday,” Ms. Black blasts the Tiger Beat-reading and Justin Bieber-worshipping establishment with a devilishly scorching rebuke of the lifestyle. She asks, “Why must we gotta get down on Friday?”

In the opening verse, Ms. Black introduces the idea of choice. But what choice, if any, is she authorized to make? The educational system has decreed that she must wake up at seven in the morning. Ms. Black goes on to list the things she “gotta” do. What are the consequences of not being “fresh”? Is it so unfathomable that a girl may want to stay in bed or eat cereal from the box? And why must her morning sustenance be cereal?

Ms. Black runs through the monotony of the morning that her family, emotionally numb after years of routine, so readily accepts. While she yearns to end this life sentence to apathy, time inevitably continues “tickin’” like a bomb about to explode.

The arrival of her friends at the bus stop presents Ms. Black with a moment of clarity: These young, presumably free-spirited teens, are her escape from boredom. At least, they should be. In the front seat, her friends are “kickin’.” The young man in flannel, a common garment for the hip, is in the early stages of a monogamous relationship with the girl in the passenger seat. “Sittin’” in the backseat are two strictly platonic friends.

Ms. Black is forced to decide: Which seat can she take? Pondering her choice, however, is futile. The ugly word “gotta,” which Ms. Black introduced us to in her opening verse, returns. She mocks the choice she has with a highly questionable action. She sits in the middle seat of the back of the car. In the parlance of the street, this is referred to as “bitch.” Scholars note that absolutely no one voluntarily rides bitch.

Ms. Black realizes that in the parameters of normal car behavior, she cannot choose the drivers seat because of her age. She cannot sit passenger side because she failed to call “shotgun.” Which seat can she take? The only one available.  The worst seat.

Having made her faux decision, Ms. Black launches into the biting chorus of her pop anthem. She sings that “It’s Friday, Friday/Gotta get down on Friday” mockingly at her friends, suggesting that they are irreversibly bound to the social convention of “gettin’ down” on Friday. It’s not their choice to make. Friday has come, and with it the obligatory partying as well. If everybody is “lookin” forward to the weekend, Ms. Black questions, what sort of existence is that?

The mantra “Partyin’ partyin’” continues ringing.  Ms. Black’s friends, drones behind the wheel of a Chrysler Sebring, happily blasting music while staying under the 35 mph speed limit in the suburbs, respond like Pavlov’s dogs with “Yeah!” Ms. Black’s message is sobering: Society has labeled this what it isn’t—“fun fun fun.”

The second verse joins Ms. Black in media res 12 hours later at 7:45 p.m. in what, given her curfew and bedtime, is the twilight of her Friday. Here, Ms. Black releases the anger she has been harboring. Because the young ladies are “cruisin’ so fast” with the top down, none of them can hear Ms. Black’s PG-13 vitriol. She begs for time to “fly,” in hope that this nightmarish weekend outing will end. She reminds herself to “think about fun,” and, exasperatingly looking for support, shows her cards to the listener: “I got this, you got this.” Ms. Black winks at us, asking us to understand that this Friday is not her cup of tea, or perhaps more aptly, her box of juice. She continues, “My friend is by my right.” Then who, we ask, is young lady on her left, and the two in the front seat? Not her friends. As social interaction on Friday promises, Ms. Black is awkwardly trapped with acquaintances who consider her to be a BFF.

The refrain of “kickin’” and “sittin’” in the car returns, but the question of where to sit is moot: She is already in the car. The choice is no longer where—it’s why she continues to take this obligatory Friday night ride.

In the song’s bridge, Ms. Black returns to her charade and plays with the notion that Friday is some sort of uber-day. She bluntly states that yesterday was Thursday. Tomorrow is Saturday. Afterwards, or perhaps “after words”—Ms. Black has a raucous time twisting simple language into a complex web—is Sunday.  She mocks those who anxiously wait for two days that, much like her youth, will disappear before she’s able to have a “ball.” “We we we” refers to the pack mentality. Friday is here. And predictably with these hollow young women, this must be the best night ever and nothing short of “fun fun fun.”

Herein begins one of the most controversial sections of the song: The rap. Featuring an African American man in his mid 30s, audiences expect this lyrical maestro to hop on the flow and “break it down.” He evokes the muses by calling for “R-B,” but what follows can only be described as gibberish. Surely Ms. Black wrote these rhymes as a solemn “buzz off” to those who readily embrace her satirical anthem as a real ode. The rapper claims to drive fast, yet a school bus passes him by. Does the tick tock of the bus have some greater meaning? You’ll recall Ms. Black heard the same noise in her home in the first verse. But really, none of this means anything.

In the final act of “Friday,” Ms. Black and the young ladies, gussied up for what is likely the most happening spot for 13-year-olds in the suburbs, march into a scene reminiscent of straight-to-VHS films with plots revolving around slumber parties. Ms. Black stands under a tree as a prophet, feeding anyone who listens with lines they want to hear. With every chant of “Yeah,” America’s youth foams at the mouth, excited to be cogs in the machine that runs the teeny bopper universe. Ms. Black’s attempt to upset the establishment has failed, pushing her to make a decision about fun.

And it is here, after three minutes and 47 seconds of auto-tuned pop, that Ms. Black makes her first, tragic choice: She abandons the revolution and gets down. It is, for lack of a better phrase, a black Friday. TC mark

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More From Thought Catalog

  • http://twitter.com/srslydrew Andrew F.

    This is how I've been treating the video every time a friend whines to me about it. Thank you.

  • Herzl

    can people get over this fucking thing? it's for 12 year olds. do a frame-by-frame deconstruction of that's so raven next

    • http://www.facebook.com/TomSmizzle Tom Smith

      congrats for getting the point dude.
      well done.

      • Herzl

        not thinking something is funny ≠ not getting the point

      • Azi

        I was discussing with someone today whether the name Herzl when used as a first name existed before T. Herzl. It was fascinating.

    • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

      LOL That's So Raven.

  • stephen_tully_dierks

    i appreciate you not only referencing Boy Meets World but also including “TGIF's”

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    “America’s youth foams at the mouth, excited to be cogs in the machine that runs the teeny bopper universe.”
    Something that should be included in every rhetorical analysis: a reference to being cogs in the machine.

  • Not Aldous Huxley

    LOLOLOLOLOL. bastardization of Bob Dylan's “FRIDAY.” Welcome to the Brave New World.

  • http://avantgardebagpipesolos.tumblr.com/ Omar De Col

    while reading this i kept thinking, “this is fucking amazing.”

  • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

    I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disturbed by the video. It's all that baby fat in the convertible.

    • Decky

      I just hate to dam thing all together… I hate Lady Gaga, Rebecca Black, Black Eyed Peas, and most of this pop generations music it's soul less…

      Most music is today

  • Dennis C.

    I'll take it one step further. It is a new generation of kids who can't stand the old rap stuff….”blingin', bangin', gettin' down in da hood wit my hoe” …. They are a generation that is gonna shoot straight. This video shoots directly at the record industries strangle on music. Gotta do this, gotta do that, can't wait till friday when there is no slave driver lording it over you. But there is really no where to go. The rich and powerful have confiscated every bit of freedom. The music industry pays people millions and gives grammies to songs like “I'm gonna soak up the sun”, “All i wanna do is have some fun”, but a 13 year old can now blow their monopoly on music, radio, and the digital world right off the map. Congrats Rebecca, you have done what thousands of people have tried to do, and needed to do for 30 years!

    • earlobe

      ugh rolling my eyes

    • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

      Gangster rap has dominated popular music for 30 years?

      March 5th, 1981, Rolling Stone Top Ten Albums:

      http://phmadore.com/img/march5

      • Dennis C.

        again you do not read. The music industry has been producing crap for thirty years, i am aware f how long “rap has been around. The mega music industry stole music from the people 30 years ago…..you probably weren't born yet, so i can't blame you for your ignorance, but they began to pay radio stations to play certain formula singles once every 2 hours to brainwash you into buying the commercialized products. Still are. Wake up kid!

  • http://twitter.com/neyugn Jen Nguyen

    My mind exploded. Completely relevant!

    This song has to die.

    • Dennis C.

      Why does it have to die? Let it live and grow bigger and bigger, and then you might have some choice on what music you can listen to. Bring the mega music industries Down, they are the one's that need to die, and fast.

      • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

        “Warner Music Group, the third largest of the four top record labels reported a net loss of $46 million for its fiscal fourth quarter. During the same period last year, Warner reported a loss of $18 million. Revenue declined 13 percent to $752 million from $867 million a year ago.”

        http://news.cnet.com/8301-3100

        My point is basically that you're retarded. The music industry is already dying at a quickening rate. It's easier than ever for tiny labels to make huge successes. The playing field has been leveling out since Napster.

      • http://twitter.com/JosephErnest Joseph Ernest Harper

        Seems like a dick comment. Why bother? Plus, $752 million is still quite a bit isn't it (I'm not sure, but in New Zealand dollars it's heaps (maybe different in American dollars?))? Pretty sure tiny labels/huge successes is a bit over the top. Sure, the long tail that's emerged has made it easier for independents. A lot easier. But Phil Elverum's not swimming in some pool filled with liquid gold or anything.

        I dunno. I guess being an asshole is more of an htmlgiant thing. I think so anyway.

      • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

        Maybe so. I just don't like the tone of this guy's particular madness, so I'm letting him know.

      • Dennis C.

        likewise you brainless bigot.

      • Dennis C.

        this is your brilliant take on the video…”I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disturbed by the video. It's all that baby fat in the convertible. ” That's all you see. Brilliant. Still work at McDonalds do you? Better get your head out of your ^&*, and start figuring out where your next meal is going to come from. The pop music industry is one of the greediest conglomerates on the planet. Defend them all you want. The indies will never compete with Seagrams, you brainless twit!

      • Dennis C.

        Your kidding right? 752 million? What is your freakin point? Sure there in decline, but that amount of money is ridiculous for what they produce. They are even going to congress to get more money. They are already super rich, but maybe that is what you value the most, money not good music.

      • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

        You can make a point, or you can keep harassing me. You can back your points

        with facts, or you can keep ranting. You're free to do either.

        Here's the truth, whether you want to admit it or not: we're in a new era of

        music. Bands like LCD Soundsystem are making yearly top ten lists. I guess

        they're part of the super corporate conspiracy? I mean, get real.

        I'm saying that indie labels are doing better than ever. Look at Merge. Or

        are they in on it too? Merge is 100% privately owned, non-corporate. They

        have around 20 employees. Yet they're regularly getting into the same radio

        playlists, video playlists, etc, as acts on Atlantic.

        All of your points seem about 11 years behind schedule.

      • Dennis C.

        You ever hear of “Clear Radio”? Get the facts. You do not see indie bands at the Super Bowl half time show do you? Advertising and promotion are the key to the super rich. By the way I am glad that your an indie backer. Let's just keep supporting them so that we can can take back the music! :)

      • http://phmadore.com P. H. Madore

        I'm sure you mean Clearchannel. You must be in Rebecca Black's target

        market, bro. I'm just saying. You seem deftly undernourished for information

        and wickedly oversensitive.

      • Dennis C.

        I was one of the first independent musicians on internet radio in the year 2000. I have played with Grammy winners. I know all about the music business having been a professional guitar player for over 15 years. So I know of what I speak, i don't have to read the indie blogs to know what they are about. Clearchannel…Clear radio…whats the difference, we both know what was meant. Henry Rollins is a good example of someone who knows what is going on in the music business, and yes he supports indie music. I might seem oversensitive and have an ax to grind, but read between the lines. “Friday” is like Andy Warhol 's painting the “Campbell's Soup Can”. It is brought into graphic focus the hollowness in the pop music industry. Who knows she might up being an opera singer! :) No worries ….. I really think we are on the same team, keep up the “revolution”! :)

  • earlobe

    it's just whatever. i liked the style of writing you harnessed in here, but my opinion of the girl and the video itself… what-the-fuck-ever. the fact that this is what america gets their panties in a wad over is just dumb.

  • http://twitter.com/THBBLGUMGNG The Bubblegum Gang

    This article was amazing. I was linked to it after posting my own, darker view of “The Real Story Behind Rebecca Black's 'Friday'” on my website. It tells a tale of lust, obsession and murder between Rebecca and her African-American musical companion. Check it out here if you're interested:

    http://thebubblegumgang.com/po

  • http://twitter.com/MissKimball misskimball

    the rap is so disturbing. that guy should be arrested and put on the sex offenders register both in the video and in real life

    • MISSKIMBALLISADIPSHIT

      What the fuck is matter with you? Do people like you speak first then think? What about when Usher, Ludicrous, etc did a video with Justin Bieber? Pull that stick out of your ass, you fucking stupid bitch. You're probably gonna try and refute what I said with the amount of cursing I did. Here's another lesson, it's to emphasize my point of how much of a fucking moron you really are. You're probably the ditsy, worthless, piece of shit bitch who will send an innocent man to jail for looking at you.

      Oh yeah, this song is horrible.

      • Frito

        who shit in your wheaties this morning? calm your ass down.

      • customconcern

        Gotta get my bowl, gotta get wheaties

      • KG

        You have to admit, he's rapped on an awful lot of teen girls' pop songs. It's not the same as Usher and Bieber because it's a young girl, completely changes the game for society. So you have to wonder why this man is constantly riding the tail end of some young one viral hit wonder's craptastic song, right? You have to at least vaguely see where Miss is coming from. If you haven't seen the other videos, they're similar searches to RB's song, you'll run across “Butterflies” and “crush on you” or something like that. There's plenty.

      • melisha

        eggs in your face

      • http://twitter.com/MissKimball misskimball

        lol @ the rage. I wish I'd seen this sooner, I feel I could have made it worse

        @misskimballisadipshit: why would I think afterwards? I thought usher & bieber was also unsettling and creepy but mainly felt bad that usher would destroy any remaining credibility he might have had just for big $. I don't thing your cursing was anything special and I haven't learned any lessons from your post. Except sending innocent men to jail for looking at me is a good idea, I'll give it a go. Officer, this man thought-raped me

        @elise: I wasn't really going with a black guys = rapists angle. I think it would be just as bad if he was white, unless they worked it into the storyline that the rapper was one of the girls dads dropping them off somewhere or something.

    • elise b

      yo misskimball and kg relax
      a few clicks around the record company's website reveals the guy is 'pato' and he's just an up and coming hard working musician on ark music factory just like these other ladies. obvs ark is capitalizing on classic conceptions of 'street'/'urban' cool as embodied in other-ing 'ethnic realness'. obvs the music from ark is formulated for mainstream appeal (albeit w/o success) and that the music has shit to do with the actual persons of the musicians.

      wonder what you would have thought if pato were white. why u so worried.

      thought this article was pretty funny, thx!!!

  • Samklink

    This article and most of the comments seems like a terrible joke.
    The music video, the beat, the horrific lyrics…this is NOT some obscure 13 year old's attack on the tyranny of Friday. It's a “catchy” song encouraging kids to enjoy Friday. If RB intended for “Friday” to be a satire, why is the whole video shot and sung with enthusiasm and toothy smiles from happy kids driving fancy cars?
    The whole damn thing is marketed to her demographic, telling them that Friday is for partying partying partying…fun fun fun fun.
    If you like the song, fine. But don't use dissection of the lyrics in a manner that makes it fit your own opinions as justification.

    It's a pop song with as much intellectual depth as Justin Beiber.
    In fact, after watching the video and double-checking a few lyrics sites, I can't find a single agreement that she asks “Why's everybody gotta get down on Friday”. There are however such genius anti-commercial gems as
    “It’s Friday, Friday
    Gotta get down on Friday
    Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
    Friday, Friday
    Gettin’ down on Friday
    Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend”.
    The message that we're mindless drones forced to enjoy the weekend is very very well concealed indeed.

    If you want, I'd be glad to provide my own interpretation the lyrics: Everything she says is exactly what she means. Example: “Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
    Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin” It's about being in a rush in the morning and time ticking on. Not some metaphoric bomb. Time. Ticking. You know, like a clock.

    Seriously, this is the most ridiculous thing I've read in a long time and I really hope it's a joke.

    • PR

      go on

    • http://twitter.com/vdalson Ien Harris

      I hope you were being sarcastic. This piece is entirely satirical.

      • Samklink

        I stumbled on here, completely unaware of what thoughtcatalog is known for publishing. Egg on my face for not taking the time read other articles and checking. But more than anything, I'm very relieved.

      • melisha

        eggs in your face

      • CaptHayfever

        Fried egg on your face?

    • to

      This is the Internet. This is also Thought Catalog. I think everyone realizes that it's a joke.

    • Author_cook

      Getting it: You're doing it wrong.

    • Dennis C.

      You say….”The music video, the beat, the horrific lyrics”. Can you name one song in the top 40 that aren't!? The BIG difference is that this song “Friday” took $2000 to produce and advertise and promote. Now 1 month later it is 51 on itunes top 100 and has over 15 million views on YouTube. It can not be compared to the mega music industries crap. This is almost self-made by a 13 year old and few obscure lyrics and catchy beat. It is way more than what meets the ears and eyes, or it would flopped immediately. So what is it? Why so overwhelmingly popular? Because it is a farce, done really well, about how our country is falling apart. Those kids hear everyday how the gap between the rich and poor is growing wider by the minute. They are going to do something about it. Head on!

      • Samklink

        The comments lambasting me for not seeing the article for what is are one thing: I can deal with that.
        (my favorite is “getting it: you're doing it wrong”)
        And if all you got from what I wrote is that I think the song sucks then once again: “Getting it: You're doing it wrong”.

        If I find myself overwhelmingly bored at another point this week-end (you know, when I'm not partying partying partying), maybe I'll get back to you on how ridiculous everything you just said is…assuming this isn't more sarcasm (which is surprisingly hard to recognize in text).

      • Dennis C.

        read this article and get back to me about the state of pop music mister “defend your ego at any cost to your intelligence!

        “Sheryl Crow, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago Play Gig For Bailed-Out Bank, Should Probably Prep For Hate Mail”

        http://www.thefader.com/2009/0

    • Bwill942

      Oh my, you're so right in your analysis of this article. This rhetorical analysis stretches things much too far! I hope you can look at something else for everyone too, and help us with what it might mean:

      http://art-bin.com/art/omodest

      It's called A Modest Proposal. I think your “what she says is exactly what she means” theory will work on this too!

  • Dan

    way too many unchill commenters on here.

  • NATIVE SON

    Friday hardly needs to be satirized, but I still thought this was perfect.

  • M5c2h

    Dear Sujay Kumar,

    I love you. This is hilarious.

    sincerely,
    This song is horrible

  • http://twitter.com/and_susan Susie Anderson

    gurl needs to check herself

  • Cody

    i don't think you can rhetorically analyze something that doesn't have any actual rhetorical value…

  • El Sur

    Ironically genuflecting to pop culture detritus is a non-renewable source of journalistic energy.

  • ≤≥≤≥≤≥≤≥≤≥≤≥
  • Tom

    Have just come across this video. So it IS a piss take?

    If so, fair play, brilliantly done, but I fear it's message may be TOO subtle to achieve it's purpose given the young audience it's (presumably) aimed at.

    • feroshus

      the video is the real music video for the real signle by rebecca black

  • Adp0223

    You do realize now that the 13 year old did not write these lyrics, don't you? Her parents paid for this production and she chose a pre-written song. It's the most God-Awful song ever written. I shut off the video after “afterwards”…

  • JunglistMovement

    Rebecca Black is this generation's Justin Bieber.

    • Ab

      they're in the same generation

      • NoahTourjee

        Apparently Generations are now 9 months long.

  • Dennis C.

    This just in!

    “Terror in Tripoli as US deploys Rebecca Black CDs in psyops mission

    Libya 20 March 2011 0 Comments

    Dateline 20 March 2011 10.31Z

    Forces loyal to Col Qaddafi have appealed to the United Nations after US psychological operations forces appear to have airdropped copies of Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ single on army barracks and weapons dumps. Mohammed Saif Al Qaddafi, speaking on Al Jazeera, described the airdrop as ‘intolerable abuse of human rights’ and demanded ‘in the name of all things holy’ that the ‘dreadful sinusoidal gnarl of this appalling harridan’ not be used in future operations.

    Major General Sir Christopher Hughes of the Royal Canadian Air Force, whose aircraft have been used to drop the deadly CDs, said that they were an important part in the reduction of the Libyan will to fight, but human rights groups expressed concern that unexploded CDs could pose a risk, particularly to children, for generations.

    Mark Smythe of Amnesty International said ‘The picture of the wholesome, pretty young girl on the cover could encourage someone to put this into a CD player. That’s no better than tying a teddy bear to a landmine.’”

    http://nabidana.com/fake-news/

    See! Its' good for something! Ha!

  • scribler

    re: $752 million being a lot of money – it isn't, for an entire industry revenue figure. I mean, tortilla production in the US is a $2.9 BILLION industry. Contemplate that.

    • Dennis C.

      And this is some kind of justification? We eat tortilla's, we are brainwashed by the mega music industry!

      • Cyke

        Tortillas brainwash us with their deliciousness.

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