Rebecca Black (born June 21, 1997) is an American pop singer and dancer who gained extensive media attention with the 2011 single "Friday". Her mother paid $4,000 to have the single and an accompanying music video put out as a vanity label through the record label ARK Music Factory. The song was co-written and produced by Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson of Ark Music Factory. After the video went viral on YouTube and other social media sites, "Friday" was derided by many music critics and viewers, who dubbed it "the worst song ever." Between its February 10, 2011 upload date and its temporary removal from YouTube on June 16, the music video received around 167 million views, gaining Black international attention as a viral star. Black re-uploaded it to her own channel three months later.
Rebecca Renee Black was born on June 21, 1997, in Irvine, California. She is the daughter of John Jeffery Black and Georgina Marquez Kelly, both veterinarians. Her mother is half Mexican, and her father, originally from Iowa, is of Italian, English, and Polish descent. The couple also had a son, Chase, born August 25, 1999. They divorced in 2003, when Black was in first grade. As of June 2013, her grandmother lives in Illinois, and her aunts and uncles live around the U.S.
Black attended private school from kindergarten to 6th grade, and moved to a public school due to bullying. She joined the school's musical theater program, where she felt she was "meant to be." In April 2011, Black dropped out in favor of homeschooling citing both a need to focus on her career and a desire to avoid taunts from her former classmates. Black was also failing English class due to her busy schedule.
2010-2011: Breakthrough with "Friday":
See also: Friday (Rebecca Black song)
In late 2010, a classmate of Black and music-video client of Los Angeles record label ARK Music Factory told her about the company. Black's mother paid $4,000 for Ark Music to produce the music video while the Blacks retained ownership of both the master and the video. The single, "Friday", written entirely by Ark, was released on YouTube and iTunes. The song's video was uploaded to YouTube on February 10, 2011, and received approximately 1,000 views in the first month. The video went viral on March 11, acquiring millions of views on YouTube in a matter of days, becoming the most-talked-about topic on social networking site Twitter, and garnering mostly negative media coverage. The single was released on March 14, with first-week sales estimated to be around 40,000 by Billboard. On March 22, Black appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, during which she performed the song and discussed the negative reaction to it. The song peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 and the New Zealand Singles Chart at numbers 58 and 33, respectively. In the UK, the song debuted at number 61 on the UK Singles Chart. In response to the YouTube video of "Friday", Black began to receive phone and email death threats, which were investigated by the Anaheim Police Department.
Black teamed up with Funny or Die on April Fool's Day 2011 (when the comedy site was renamed Friday or Die) for a series of videos, including one about the underage teens driving a car in her "Friday" video. She signed to manager Debra Baum's DB Entertainment, reportedly with Ryan Seacrest's help. Black also stated that she is a fan of Justin Bieber, and expressed interest in performing a duet with him.
MTV selected Black to host its first online awards show, the O Music Awards Fan Army Party, in April 2011. As an homage to "Friday", Black appeared in the music video for Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)", in which Black plays alongside Perry as the hostess of a party Perry attends. A cover of "Friday" was performed on Glee in the second season episode, "Prom Queen". When asked about why the song was covered on Glee, show creator Ryan Murphy replied, "The show pays tribute to pop culture and, love it or hate it, that song is pop culture."
Not long after the "Friday" video went viral on YouTube, Black and her mother, Georgina Kelly, got into legal issues with Ark Music over rights to the song. In a letter from Kelly's lawyer to Ark Music on March 29, 2011, it was alleged that Ark Music failed to fulfill the terms of their November 2010 agreement by not giving her the song and video's master recordings, by claiming Black as exclusively signed to the label, and by exploiting the song without permission -- for example, selling a "Friday" ringtone. While Ark founder (and "Friday" co-writer) Patrice Wilson stated that Kelly "will get the masters and the song . . . they can have it all", and agreed that Black was not exclusive to Ark, his attorney claimed that Ark owns the copyright for the song and the November agreement is invalid. In June 2011, Ark Music Factory started charging $2.99 to watch the music video on YouTube. Later that month, "Friday" was removed as a result of the legal dispute; it was restored to YouTube on September 16, 2011, on Black's official channel.
"Friday" was revealed as YouTube's No. 1 video of 2011, with Black hosting a short video called "YouTube Rewind" in the year-end recap. Despite the over 167 million views during its first four months, prior to its temporary removal, "Friday" had amassed more than 3,190,000 "dislikes".
2011-present: Debut album and other projects:
After the fallout with Ark Music Factory, Black started an independent record label named RB Records. She released a self-produced single titled "My Moment" on July 18, 2011, the first on her label, with an accompanying music video published to her YouTube channel the same day. In the video, director Morgan Lawley features real life footage of Black from both before and after her fame.
In late October 2011, production began on the music video for Black's third single, "Person of Interest". This was how Black described the song: "The basis of it is that it's a love song but it's not a love song. It's about almost teenage crushes -- when you're not in love yet but you really like a guy -- which I'm really excited about because I don't think there are too many out like that. It's very much a dance type song. It will make you get up and dance and sing along in your car." The single and its accompanying music video were released on November 15, 2011. Black released two more singles in 2012: "Sing It" in May, and "In Your Words" in November.
Black was planning to release her official debut album in late 2011, which she said would include "a bunch of different kinds of stuff." The album is being recorded at a studio belonging to music producer Charlton Pettus. However, almost three years later, there has been no word of an official release.
Black was featured in an ABC Primetime Nightline: Celebrity Secrets special entitled Underage and Famous: Inside Child Stars' Lives. She was also brought to Australia by Telstra to promote the launch of their 4G service. Zeitgeist, which sorted billions of Google searches to capture the year's 10 fastest-rising global queries, listed Black as "#1 Most Searched - Google". The searches for the teen singer topped even those of pop icons Lady Gaga and Adele. In 2012, Black signed onto the Maker Studios YouTube network.
In late 2013, Black released the song "Saturday". For her sequel to "Friday", she collaborated with Dave Days. It became Black's second song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 55. While it reached a higher position than "Friday" (number 58), "Saturday" was on the chart only one week, compared to six for "Friday".
Aside from her original music, Black has been posting videos regularly on her YouTube channel, which include blogs (sometimes with other people on YouTube), question-and-answer videos, and occasional covers of songs by other artists.
Black has pledged to donate profits from the sales of her song "Friday" towards her school, El Rancho Charter School, and shortly after the 2011 Japan earthquake, to emergency relief in that country.