It’s a new day for Rebecca Black. The viral phenom has just released “Saturday,” the follow-up to her mind-bendingly bad single and video “Friday.” And I’m pleased to say that it’s an incredibly good, boundary-pushing piece of pop art. No, I’m kidding, it sucks terribly.
Black and her team, including duet partner Dave Days, who takes a verse and sings harmonies here, seem to think that displaying some modicum of the self-awareness that “Friday” lacked entirely will erase the public perception of her as a talent-challenged hack.
It does not. The un-subtle recalls to some of the more laughable moments of the “Friday” debacle (the bowl of cereal, the shocking ‘fun, fun, fun, fun’ lyric) in fact make them instantly un-laughable. We weren’t laughing with you, Ms. Black, and we don’t want to. It’s important that you understand that. You’ve actually ruined “Friday” for us. Amazing.
As some reviewers have noted, “Saturday” is a much more professional production. Black’s voice sounds better, and the song is both better written and better produced. But now she, and we, must face the moment of truth in which we hear and evaluate the ‘mature artist’ being offered here, unfettered by producers Ark Music Factory, which rightly took a lot of the blame for “Friday.” Now, almost three years after that toxic smoke has cleared, we gaze upon the banal horror of utterly soulless, overproduced, uninspired tween party pop, no different from a hundred other forgettable, disposable songs.
And that is why we should be glad for “Saturday.” It exposes the quality-irrelevant mess that pop music has become. If the person responsible for what has been called the worst song ever produced can turn around and release a song that would sound right at home on Top 40 radio or at the VMAs, what does that say about those celebrated pop pushers who were spared the embarrassment of having a “Friday” released before the pros got their hands on them?
For at least another year or two, all of the U.K.’s up-and-coming sisters (and brothers) with voices will have their work cut out for them. As if it’s not already tough enough to rise above the pop pack, they’ll also have to contend with all of those inevitable Adele comparisons.
Is she (or he) the next Adele, the future of U.K.-bred pop talent hoping to achieve global domination?
Admit it: You wonder, too”every time a great new voice emerges from the British music scene. With the ruling pop diva of the last two years now between albums (perhaps she’ll be back in the autumn singing the theme for the next James Bond film, Skyfall) and expecting her first child with boyfriend Simon Konecki, the battle is on for the keys to the kingdom that the princess hasn’t even yet vacated.
If you’ve got a great voice and/or a slightly unconventional pop sound and/or look, if you’re more substance than style, to the front of the line you go. It’s the latest greatest aspiration in pop since the days when it was all about being the next Amy Winehouse, whether you sounded anything like her or not. Challenging Adele might be as scary a proposition as walking in the late Winehouse’s scuffed shoes might have been (terrifying for reasons that had everything and nothing to do with Winehouse’s talent), but at least fans are in for some great music. Recently, I heard a Rumer (the off-the-beaten-pop-path singer behind 2010’s Seasons of My Soul and this year’s Boys Don’t Cry), and my first thought was “Is this it?”
Rumer isn’t the only talented singer who’s making me listen and wonder. Here are three others:
Emeli Sandé (Current hits: My Kind of Love and Next to Me) In June, a friend sent me the video for Sandé’s recent single, Next to Me, on Facebook, with a short and sweet message: love… After watching the clip, my first impression was Sara Bareilles with a really dated look. White on black is so mid-˜90s! My second impression: How is it that everybody all over the world doesn’t already know her name (which, incidentally, is actually Adele Emeli Sandé)? (more…)
That’s what John Taylor of Duran Duran recently told Time Out Melbourne on the subject of illegal downloading. When I read Taylor’s comments, I applauded as if his band had just completed a rousing encore of Skin Trade. Finally, a pop star who understands what it’s like to be low on cash but high on music.
Back in the old pre-Internet days, before iTunes, Amazon and having access to the latest hits 24/7 on YouTube, if you couldn’t afford to pay to listen to the music you loved anytime you wanted to, you had to improvise. For me, and, apparently, for Taylor, that meant pushing a tape recorder up the speakers of the radio, waiting for your favorite song to come on, pressing play when it did, and praying for no outside noise to interfere with the sweet music coming from the speakers.
On the subject of short-lived stardom, Andy Warhol said it best: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” Surely in 1968, when Warhol uttered that soon-to-be immortal prediction, he couldn’t have foreseen the emergence of the Internet and reality TV as the two biggest factors in the making and breaking of pop stars this side of MTV back when it was still all about music television.
Though it’s easier to get famous for fifteen minutes or less these days, it’s harder to stay that way when you’re made online. Bloggers everywhere seem to dedicate their Internet domains to the building up and tearing down of American idols. And here in cyberspace, the sometimes-adoring public is just as fickle: You don’t go viral without annoying a lot of people along the way.
- Everyone gets in bar fights, but only celebrities get in bar fights in Helsinki.
- Oh look, more Radiohead music.
- Florence + the Machine get ready for an arena tour at… a department store.
- Saying you want a pasta maker for Christmas is almost as lame as saying you want world peace, T Swift.
- Okay, 10 days left for something amazing to happen so that 2011 doesn’t go down in history as the year of Rebecca Black.
- There’s not enough time in the day to read all the 2011 music lists out there.
- Such a grumpy Gus, Morrissey.