Clearly, the viral Internet meme to beat for 2011 is Rebecca Black’s “Friday”, the inexpensively-written, inexpensively-produced teen pop song widely criticised as “the worst song in the world“. Yet, one month after it’s release on YouTube, the 13 year old singer has climbed to number 19 on the iTunes top download list, even beating out her own pop idol: Justin Bieber. Even last year’s top viral video meme, Antoine Dodson’s “Bed Intruder Song“, has only garnered 79 million views from 2010 to date. “Friday” already has over 110 million views… and the rest of the year to go.
So what’s the real story here? Who the hell is Rebecca Black? Is she a product of a rich and naive American mommy and daddy? And who on Earth is that random African-American rapper in her video?
The Los Angeles Times reports:
Last summer, Rebecca Black’s mother paid L.A.-based production company Ark Music Factory a reported $2,000 to write and produce a song, and shoot a music video, for her 13-year-old daughter to sing and star in. The result: “Friday”, a track about having friends and being young and how rad it is that it’s the end of the school week.
The man responsible for all this hoopla, for “Friday’s” unapologetically inane lyrics and infectious beat and the high-gloss gleam of Black’s video, is Patrice Wilson, a hitherto unknown musician and producer who arrived in Los Angeles in 2007 from Spokane, Wash., to build a company that he says “was based on the idea of Noah’s ark. In other words, a place to gather people together, where they could be safe.”
Patrice Wilson: The man responsible for, heaps richer for, and apparently feeling bad for Rebecca Black "Friday".
Wilson, who has a rapping cameo in “Friday,” has remained a mysterious “man behind the curtain” throughout much of the Black brouhaha. Until Friday, that is, when he suddenly released an Ark Music Factory-produced “press conference” which consisted of a wide-eyed young woman asking him questions such as “Who are you?”. You can watch the bizarre interview on YouTube here.
In the video Wilson comes off as slick, stiff and perhaps a little defensive, a stance that has reinforced a notion that he is a kind of Suge Knight of the preteen schoolyard, harnessing young girls’ dreams to his own financial advantage.
But in person, blinking in the white sun outside a Melrose Avenue Starbucks, Wilson is soft-spoken and sincere, with a sad-eyed baby face and a neatly pressed suit and tie. He seems slightly dazed by the chaos and not at all the cutthroat music biz stereotype. On the contrary, he presents himself as a well-mannered, well-traveled and well-educated man — utterly confounded by the wave of hate that his nursery-rhyme-simple, but very catchy, song has recently elicited.
“I remember writing ‘Friday,’” Wilson says.
“It was on a Thursday night, but I finished it on Friday morning. And I knew it was silly, you know? ‘Tomorrow is Saturday, and Sunday comes afterwards?’ I mean, everybody knows that, obviously, but I wanted the song to be simple and kind of sweet. People talk so much about how silly or stupid the lyrics are, but pop songs, they’re meant to be catchy and to tell things in a simple kind of way. I feel bad that Rebecca has been getting so many people criticizing the song. Because it was me that wrote it.”
Excerpts from: Patrice Wilson of Ark Music: ‘Friday’ is on his mind | Los Angeles Times
For $2,000 to $4,000, Ark’s kids get an original song, studio time, a photo shoot, image consulting, a music video, and promotion. Considering that major labels drop $10,000 to $15,000 on lower-end videos, Ark Music Factory’s fees are kind of a bargain. But the children and their parents have to be dedicated to music, not the pursuit of fame, emphasizes Wilson. “I don’t promise anyone fame. In fact, if someone approaches me with their only goal to ‘get famous,’ I tell them they’re not in this for the right reasons.”
However, it is infamy that Rebecca Black and her parents got for their money, although that’s probably not what they ever expected. Since “Friday” went viral, even celebrities have been commenting on the online phenomenon; while Miley Cyrus told an Australian newspaper, “It should be harder to be an artist,” Lady Gaga tweeted, “I say Rebecca Black is a genius and that anybody telling her she’s cheesy is full of s**t.”
Initially when “Friday” began to spike in views, Wilson actually asked Rebecca and her mother if they wanted him to take the video down, he tells the L.A. Times.
“But they said ‘no,’ even though we knew it might mean a lot of attention and a lot of criticism online,” he reveals. “And in the end, there was criticism, but Rebecca has been great in handling it…And the truth is, if you look at the numbers…even though people say they hate the song…really, they love it.”
Excerpts from: Newsmusic.org
Still, I get the feeling Patrice magically no longer feels that remorse as he tops up his bank account. For every death threat Rebecca Black gets, the man makes quite a bit of cash. And it seems that Rebecca Black’s mother agrees:
Georgina Marquez Kelly, mother of Rebecca Black, is accusing Ark Music Factory of “copyright infringement and unlawful exploitation of Rebecca Black’s likeness and song on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon and Ark’s website,” according to a report in Rolling Stone, via PopEater, which references a letter from Rebecca’s lawyer, Brian Schall. Rebecca and her mum also claim that Ark never gave them master copies of the “Friday” recording and sold an “unauthorized ringtone” of the song, the report says.
Patrice Wilson, from his own interview, comes across as an exploitive, egotistical act, usurping the fame of Rebecca Black and many other wanna-be teen dreamers to his own goals of fame and fortune. Draped in cubic zirconia earrings and the essential shades + too-cool-to-do-his-tie-up-properly decor, this does not stink of exploitation at all.
But Patrice Wilson has denied everything, alleging Ark have made amends with Rebecca and her camp.
“I have met with Rebecca Black’s mom and everything is fine,” said Wilson. “She will get the masters and the song. They can have it all.”
With some help from Ryan Seacrest, Rebecca has since signed a record deal with DB Entertainment.
Excerpts from: OK Magazine, Rolling Stone & Popeater.com – Rebecca Black Suing “Friday” Producers