Rebecca Black’s “Friday” was a bizarrely literal documentation of all manner of teen-dream ephemera (who among us can forget her internal debate over which seat she should take in her friend’s car?) that, not surprisingly, became the stuff of Internet legend.
And, in the process, it also helped launch her career — which, to this point, seems to have crested with her cameo in Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” clip . Sure, she tried to get semi-serious with her “Friday” follow-up, “My Moment,” which was certainly a more polished product, but came packaged with a video that featured nary a mention of car seats (or days of the week), and as such, didn’t really do what it intended: prove that Black was more than just a viral sensation and push her to the next level (though, to be fair, it has racked up some 27 million views on YouTube, certainly not a number to be sneezed at).
So now, she’s back with phase three of her world domination plan, a new single and video rather amazingly called “Person of Interest” (no word on whether J.J. Abrams is getting points on the back end), which seems to be her attempt at melding the temporal inanity of “Friday” with the, uh, budget of “My Moment.” Or, you know, something like that.
Because this time around, she’s dropping lines like “There’s a crime scene on the dance floor” and “Can’t deny you’re implicated in the mayhem in my mind” over a lilting, post-disco beat that features the same ratcheting electro tendrils, open-faced guitar licks and ebbing, undulating synth squiggles that you’ve heard on every Radio Disney song from 2008 to present. They’re practically prerequisites. Her voice is still lacquered with studio sheen, particularly on the chorus and the “emotive” breakdown toward the back end, when all the instrumentation falls away and we’re left with nothing more than Black’s squelched-yet-slippery vocals. It is all seemingly created in a laboratory and, rather ingeniously, her attempt at splitting the difference between the breakout hit and the lesser follow up.
The video is complete with skee-ball and mini-golf and go-karts and all manner of “Mom-drop-us-off-here” madness. There’s a cute boy, and a police sketch artist (since, you know, the song is called “Person of Interest”) and a really fun party where Black gets to go onstage and perform — in front of all her best friends (and the cute boy too) — because, lest you forget, she’s the star. It is certainly a better video than “Friday,” and yet, it is not as compelling as that clip, mostly because it is a better video. And that, really, seems to be the case both for and against Rebecca Black — the machinations and aspirations were readily apparent from the very beginning (both hers and those of the Ark Music Factory that spawned her); we just don’t tend to respond to them when they are so apparent, you know?
And yes, I realize this is all fairly highbrow discussion of a rather lowbrow song, but it’s oddly fascinating, too, especially since it has become apparent that Black cares so much about being famous. Will “Person of Interest” succeed where “My Moment” failed? Can it establish her as an actual pop star, or will it once again fail to match the zeitgeist-uniting WTF-ness of “Friday”? Is this just the next step in her voyage, or is it the end? The jury’s still out on all counts, though you’ve got to give her (or her handlers) credit for continuing to try. Or maybe you don’t. For an artist as straightforward as Rebecca Black is, she’s certainly confounding, isn’t she?
What do you think of Rebecca Black’s latest? Let us know in the comments!