'Rebecca Black Effect': How 'Friday' star pioneered viral trend of catchy yet cringe-worthy music

In the early 2010s, Ark Media Network produced some very famous artists, who single-handedly pioneered a new trend of cringe-worthy yet catchy music

                            'Rebecca Black Effect': How 'Friday' star pioneered viral trend of catchy yet cringe-worthy music
Rebecca Black, Nicole Westbrook and Alison Gold (Getty Images, YouTube)

Picture this: It's 2011, you're in high school with a bunch of friends jamming to hits from Taylor Swift, One Direction, Katy Perry, et al. Life couldn't be better. But the musical memories from 2011 are plagued by another hit, that was number one but not for the right reasons. It even turned out to be the most disliked song in YouTube history, and a fact for sure is that people scramble to cover their ears before they can even hear the opening to the song. Yet, you cannot deny that no matter how much it may seem like its making your ears bleed, it still really, really catchy.

What song are we talking about exactly? The 2011 classic, black-listed pop song 'Friday' by Rebecca Black, that as of May 7, 2020, has 3.7 million dislikes on YouTube.

Yeah, the same singer who pioneered an awful, unlistenable style of music with the 'Rebecca Black Effect'.  What in Pete's name is the 'Rebecca Black Effect' you ask? Well, let our trusty friend, the Urban Dictionary, spell it out for you. 

Rebecca Black kicks off the Holiday Season with Kohl’s at their 'New Gifts At Every Turn' pop-up on November 06, 2019 in New York City (Getty Images)

"When a song is so terrible that it becomes eerily catchy, putting you under somewhat of a spell causing you bob your head," says the popular slang-defining online dictionary. In another context, the Urban Dictionary defines it as "Becoming famous through people making fun of your terrible material. Refers to the awful song and music video 'Friday' by Rebecca Black that went viral in March of 2011."

In addition to Black, however, the credit for this 'movement' or the 'Rebecca Black Effect', also goes to the Ark Media Network, the company that produced the music video for 'Friday'. Back in the day, it went by Ark Music Factory and besides Black's video, it has several other similar cringe-inducing music videos/artistes under its belt. As 'Friday' began garnering huge attention, no matter negative or positive, many realized they wanted to hop on the bandwagon to make themselves known and create music, albeit not really Grammy award-winning.

Alison Gold - Chinese Food

Nicole Westbrook (Ark Media Network, YouTube)

Ark Media Network produced Alison Gold's 'Chinese Food' in 2013,  which became a Billboard hit for all the wrong reasons. The song and the video itself was extremely controversial to the point of being racist. In the video, the then 11-year-old Gold is seen eating chow mein, wonton soup, surrounded by Japanese geisha (we still don't understand the connection between geishas and Chinese food) in a Mongolian restaurant. There is even a grown man -- Patrice Wilson, the brains behind Ark Media -- in a panda costume hanging out with a little girl. Not creepy at all, right?! The cultural appropriation and the offensive stereotyping in this video is absolutely nuts!

Nicole Westbrook - It's Thanksgiving

Singer Nicole Westbrook attends the 3rd Annual Streamy Awards at Hollywood Palladium on February 17, 2013 in Hollywood, California (Getty Images)

Nicole Westbrook's 'It's Thanksgiving' was released in 2012, and was another hit among tweens her own age. The then 12-year-old Westbrook sang about the least favorite holiday in the year. Also remember the creepy panda man, Patrice, from Alison Gold's video? He makes an appearance here as well, making a fool of himself in a turkey costume this time.

Everything that is wrong about the song is that it is reminiscent of 'Friday', talks about an American holiday that people her age aren't exactly overly enthusiastic about and that the rap parts interrupt a perfectly normal thanksgiving prayer. 

Thus ensued the 'Rebecca Black Effect', the movement that started a trend of Billboard chart-topping bad music. As for the stars themselves, they have all retained a career in music despite that embarrassing jump-start.

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