Internet Trolls Be Damned: Rebecca Black Is Here to Reintroduce Herself

Ten years after Rebecca Black's viral track "Friday" left her bullied and depressed, she's taking control of her narrative and career with a new project. She walked E! News through her journey.

By Sarah Grossbart, Spencer Lubitz Jun 16, 2021 1:00 PMTags

With the benefit of 10 years of hindsight, it's clear to see that Rebecca Black walked so every tween on TikTok could sprint

When the then-13-year-old released "Friday"—an entirely silly, irreverent tribute to her favorite day of the week which she neither wrote nor ever imagined might go viral—she was crucified. Music critics and anonymous Internet users alike scornfully pulled apart everything from the Southern California-based teen's heavily autotuned voice to the inane lyrics, like, "Tomorrow is Saturday / And Sunday comes afterwards."

Today, the music video would likely be the soundtrack for another viral TikTok challenge. Black's 2011 track, meanwhile, was certified gold—a milestone that was reached just days before the singer dropped her remixed version of the single on the 10th anniversary of its release—a legit bop featuring the likes of Dorian Electra, 3OH!3 and Big Freedia.

"I've had such a whirlwind of emotions and experiences over the years," the now 23-year-old musician admitted to E! News of her insane "Friday" journey. But getting a re-do at the viral track, complete with a playful, tongue-in-cheek video she dreamed up was the perfect exclamation point.

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"The remix came out just in the absolute perfect way in my brain of how it could have gone," she raved. "I mean, I got to work with some of my most favorite people on that song, and favorite artists. I feel like finally, I've taken a bit of ownership back into something that, you know, I was obviously a kid when that happened to me." 

So getting to make her own version, putting it out in her own way, she said, "was a bit of closure on a chapter of my life that has definitely impacted me in a lot of ways."


And now she's writing a whole new book with her latest project, Rebecca Black Was Here

A solid mix of what she calls "that hyper pop-y, like, you know, rave song of my dreams," and "incredibly emotional" tracks like the more vulnerable "Blue," there's a "a lot of variety in terms of the sound that it has," she said. It's the result of allowing herself and her team to really go there during the writing process. 

"I just really gave myself a lot of liberty, and the people I was working with too—the producers and co-writers," she explained. "I think we all tried to challenge ourselves to push the limits in terms of what a pop project could sound like and really tie in as much as we could."

Inspired by icons such as Madonna, Lady Gaga, Grimes and Gwen Stefani "who have been unafraid to take a chance," she noted, "I think that I wanted to, in my own way, channel that risk-taking energy, 'cause I finally felt like I could do that."

But as excited as she is for her musical future—which includes a tour kicking off in Washington, D.C. Jan. 13—you never forget where you came from. 

Having come full circle on "Friday," she can fully appreciate its lighthearted, DGAF appeal. "I will absolutely be blasting that song if I ever am deejaying at night at a party," she insisted of her remix. "Maybe I'll play it at a concert. I don't know. I just love to see the joy that it brings people. I love to see the way that the dialogue has shifted around it over the past 10 years. And I feel really stoked about, you know, the way that things have changed."

These days it seems unimaginable that we all piled upon a 13-year-old girl who was just trying to break into the music business by singing about what is, arguably, the best day of the week. 

"When you're in the thick of anything, it can feel like it's going to take up your life forever and it can feel like it might define you and your life forever," she reflected of the experience. "Especially when it comes to being called a name from somebody." 


There were a few highlights amid the torrent of hate she experienced. Her track got the Glee treatment and praise from the likes of Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus. And Katy Perry even tapped Black to appear in her 2011 video for "Last Friday Night", something Black will forever cherish. 

"I honestly will always just be really thankful to the way that Katy was towards me, the way that she spoke to me," she shared. "I just appreciated how welcomed everyone made me feel. And in a way where it would have been really easy to make me feel like an outsider or an outcast or a gag or something like that. And that went a long way in terms of how I felt about myself, especially at the time. I just really appreciated her kindness."


Because back in 2011 such kindness was in short supply. To deal with the constant bullying from her peers, Black began homeschooling shortly after the video dropped. And by 15, she revealed in a 2020 social media post reflecting on all the vitriol, she was battling some intense depression. 

"I felt in a lot of ways, like I had ended everything before I'd even wanted anything to begin," she said of feeling like any dream of a career in music had slipped away with one gig. "I wish I could go back and tell her, you did exactly what you were supposed to do. You were exploring, you were trying, you were experimenting."

Because at 13—an age few of us would want documented for posterity—having your s--t figured it out is not exactly the norm. "I think people project their own insecurity of that on to others and try to point out things that, you know, might seem easy to make fun of," she mused. "But a kid trying things out is never something to be made fun of."

If only she could have delivered that message to her insecure, bullied teenage self. 

"When I got to work with Katy, that was like very much in the thick of it, and it was a really meaningful moment for me, but I don't think that I really came to a reckoning with everything until I had a lot more time to process what had happened," she explained. "I mean, I was still a 13-year-old at that point. And I was just grateful to finally be able to breathe for a second."  

Jade DeRose

But working through the emotions of something so traumatic can't be accomplished in one afternoon—even one that involves a literal teenage dream. "Nothing is like a straight, now you're over it and it's fine," she explained. Though, with the help of therapy and a solid squad, "I've definitely come such a long way," she continued. "And that's due to a lot of support from other people and working on myself and diligence to not give up." 

Which is why this new project feels like the freshest of starts. Calling it a "turning point," Black said it's just one more way "that I feel like I'm really controlling another part of my own narrative." 

Another was her decision to come out—publicly—as queer last April

"I really feel so lucky to have had the response that I've been able to have from people and to be so embraced by a community that I've had the utmost respect for and appreciation for my entire life," she said. And she's living for the chance to truly take part in the first in-person Pride Month festivities since her announcement. 


"I love to be surrounded physically by this community," she explained. "Nothing makes me happier than meeting other people and hearing their experiences and comparing and telling stories and hearing about the ways that it's brought influence into their lives." 

She's hoping that with live performances becoming a thing again, she can give a bit of that appreciation back. But for Black, the rainbow-hued, glitter-filled celebrations of love are only one piece of the Pride Month festivities. 

She was grateful that last year's Pride "incorporated" the Black Lives Matter movement, she said, "and I want to continue to push that forward and just continue to make not only Pride a month for my journey and my community and the people in my audience who are queer, but also I think it's an extremely vital reminder of the work that needs to be done." 

Black has taken note of the difficulties those in the LGBTQ+ community have faced "with so many archaic laws being passed or even brought into legislation," she said. And "as a queer person with a platform, I'm very cognizant of that and I'll just continue to try to be a better representative as much as I can."

Jade DeRose

Mostly she feels grateful to have reached this point where she is able to do good with her viral fame. 

"I just feel really lucky that right now in these past few months there's been such a great response to what I've been releasing," she said of her latest work. She anticipates that there will be critiques and she's ready for them—"Tell me how I can be better, like, that is genuinely really helpful"—but she no longer feels the need to brace herself for a total onslaught. 

"The conversation has changed a lot," she said of the Internet's all-too-slow march to something more resembling kindness and humanity, "and I just feel very grateful that I have a big base of supporters that take up a lot more space than they used to." 

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