Rebecca Black's Colossal Comeback
Remember back in 2011 when the hit song “Friday” came out? The music video reached a whopping 123M views and made singer Rebecca Black a household name in the music industry. But Black--who was a teenager at the time--couldn’t celebrate the popularity of her song as a complete victory since that same viral video also received 3.2M dislikes (in comparison to 861K likes). Hate messages hit Black’s inbox time and time again, and music critics went as far as to dub it the “worst song ever.” She even began receiving death threats via email and telephone. Regardless, Black pushed through the negativity and continued pursuing her music career by appearing in Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night” music video and releasing “Saturday” in 2013 as a sequel to her original Billboard Hot 100 hit. Although “Saturday” reached a higher position on the charts than “Friday” (number 55 as opposed to 58), it was only up on Billboard for one week, compared to six for “Friday.” She has also won a Teen Choice Award—Choice Web Star in 2011–and was nominated Choice Web Collaboration (for the video “Fab Five in Real Life”) in 2014. Since then, Black has stayed relatively quiet in the music industry...until this past June. The singer appeared as a contestant on season two of the musical competition series The Four: Battle for Stardom, and fought to take the seat of one of the reigning artists. She passed through the first round after singing NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” but unfortunately she did not make the cut following her second cover of Ednaswap’s “Torn.” However, being featured on television once again proved to all that Black is no longer afraid of being cyberbullied, and is ready to step into the spotlight once again. I had the great honor of getting to interview the singer about her insecurities post “Friday,” and why she’s as prepared as ever to make the ultimate comeback.
How did you first get into singing?
Oh man, it feels like I’ve been singing forever. I started performing and dancing when I was three-years-old, and once I started, I really never stopped. I was singing in school productions and recitals every year growing up, but it wasn’t until I was ten-years-old that I joined a musical theatre performance group in my town. That same year, I also started taking singing lessons, so it became a huge part of my life.
What about music is most special to you?
There are soooo many elements that make it special to me. Music gives me a feeling of liberation and pure joy that is like nothing else. I think the truest version of myself comes out in moments on stage when I let myself feel all of that. I love to see that from the other side as well. Being able to witness other artists lose themselves to the music while I’m dancing in the audience is just as beautiful to me!
Let’s talk about “Friday.” Were you under a lot of stress when the song went viral or was it exciting to you?
I’d say both--it varied by the second. I got to do things that I never dared to dream of because of “Friday.” I worked with Katy Perry, went to the Grammy’s, and even won a Teen Choice Award. But at the same time, there were so many moments where I was stressed and completely overwhelmed.
How did you deal with the cyberbullies?
It was not easy at all. One of the most difficult parts of the whole situation was that I was only 13-years-old. I was just barely scratching the surface when it came to starting to discover what made me ‘me.’ People’s words affected me because of that, no matter how hard I tried to act like I was unbothered. But the more time passed, the more I was able to process everything, and I’ve been able to heal.
What advice can you give to teens who are currently being cyberbullied like you were?
It’s much easier said than done, but I think it’s so important to talk to an adult you trust. Bottling up pain can weigh down on you and make you feel like you are so alone, which just feels awful. Just know that asking for help doesn’t make you a burden on anyone else.
This year, you put yourself out there again on The Four: Battle for Stardom. Why did you decide you wanted to be on the show?
I have worked hard on making a lot of personal progress over the years, but I remained frustrated because people still saw me as “the ‘Friday’ girl.” The Four fell naturally into my life and I couldn’t shake how excited I was about the opportunity to showcase who I am now and how I’ve grown.
What was the most challenging part about being a contestant?
Besides long hours, all I can say is, for anyone who plans on competing on a show like that, bring blankets, gloves, scarves...anything to keep warm! TV studios are kept so cold because of all of the people and lights!
What was the most valuable pieces of advice that the panel of judges gave you?
I think one of my biggest takeaways was seeing that there is no reason to ever hold anything back when you are given an opportunity to make an impression. Be you and be shameless, because that will be something people will remember.
Following the show, you were also given another incredible opportunity to travel to Bermuda on a trip sponsored by Revolve. What was that like?
Bermuda was absolutely beautiful--now I can check it off my bucket list! It was a crazy week filled with fun activities and beautiful places; sometimes it was almost hard to believe that everything was actually real. Everyone on the island was so friendly and I miss it so much already!
What are your future plans?
I’m back in the studio and writing, writing, writing! I’m so excited for what’s next because I’m going to up the ante from what I’ve released before. Other than music, I’ve also been able to live out another love of mine recently: acting! I’ve been fortunate enough to film a few movies this year which will be out soon. I can’t wait for my fans to be able to see them!
What advice can you offer people who aspire to be singers like you?
Just go for it! Start writing and keep working on expanding your craft. There is no cap on how far you can grow as a musician, and trust me it really is all about the journey. It’s totally normal to write or sing something and then hate it a week later, but don’t let that discourage you. Let that be your motivation to keep going!
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