Friday, March 18, 2011

Rebecca Black Is Not The Problem

If you haven't seen/heard it yet, here you go. I'll wait:

(Link in case the video doesn't post right)

Okay. Done with that? Let's start with a thesis: This is the worst song ever. Yes, worse than "Muskrat Love". If you doubt me, go back and listen to it again, especially the bridge at around the two-minute mark. This song has blown up, hitting the top-100 on iTunes, passing 15,000,000 views on YouTube and spawning many articles discussing it (And an excellent cover by Bob Dylan), as well as some potential discussion of Black signing a record deal. However, this is not because people like the song. Despite my occasional misgivings about the subject, we have not quite devolved to that point yet. Rather, this song seems to be the focal point for the long-simmering backlash against the entire teen pop genre, which deserved to die many, many years ago. With that in mind, there is the potential for this song to do a wonderful thing for the world.

You see, Black is not actually a singer, and this song is not actually released by a record label. Black is a teenager whose mother paid a (presumably decent) sum of money to Ark Music Factory, a company that lets people be in their own music video, thus realizing the pinnacle of contemporary culture. The performers have the song written for them, and based on this video, have little input whatsoever into what the finished product will sound like, as Black's voice has been auto-tuned out of existence (And the tiny bit that remains seems to insist on pronouncing 'Friday' as 'fried egg'). I don't know how they handle the video, but it presumably isn't a much more involved process. Then the teenager can go hone and show their friends the music video on YouTube. It's all very exciting. This process leads to complete dreck being kicked out, not for totally valid artistic reasons (Like 'We Built This City'), but solely as an obligation for cash considerations, which is what the pop music industry has been about for quite a while now. This is just a slightly more honest way of doing things. And that is where the fun starts.

You see, no label can touch this and try to pretend that they're signing Black as an artist. Rather, any record deal would have to be as a novelty act, also known as a blatant cash grab. But this calls into question the validity of the entire teen pop genre. You see, none of these performers have talent. They are selected for looks and exploitability, thrust into an auto-tune program to sing something written by a 40-year old man who probably lives in Sweden or something, and shipped out into the world to be eaten alive by fame and the press. They don't actually have the skills to write or sing something decent. They are raw meat. This is different from Black solely in the fact that the major labels put more money into it than Black's mother, so they receive a marginally higher-quality finished product. Beyond signing Black, there are now problems with existing artists. Anyone who puts out anything that sounds even remotely close to this song from here on out is going to be absolutely crucified. The backlash against this song has been so fierce and immediate that the entire genre is going to have to distance itself. And there's even the chance that it could sound the death knell for teen pop as a whole. Which I would be okay with.

But there is going to be a cost to this righteous rage. Forgive me if I start sounding like the 'Leave Britney alone!' guy here, but this needs to be said. It isn't the name of (insert horrific songwriter here) who is going to bear this. It is Black whose name is on this, even though she was only marginally involved in the whole process. Really what she is guilty of is being a teenager and therefore stupid, and having parents dumb and rich enough to indulge her whims. The problem is with Ark Music Factory, the people who are actually responsible for this song, and with the entire music industry that has participated in the process of foisting talentless hacks on us under the guise of 'music'. The major labels, one and all, are at fault here. This is simply one ridiculous example of something they have been doing for years. But Black is going to be the one who takes the fall here, and internet justice is harsh. I hope I'm wrong here, but there's a reasonable chance she is going to be destroyed by this process. If and when this happens, remember who is really responsible. It's not the stupid teenager. It's the adults who look at the stupid teenager and see only money.


Kathy said...

I'm going to have to recover a bit before I can comment much, but I do have to say that I worry that children actually watching the video during the horrendous bridge you mentioned may be thrown forcefully into an epileptic fit! This video should be preceded by a health warning :(

lemming said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lemming said...

Bob Dylan is old, so it's okay to make fun of him. ;)