Features

Rebecca Black: Why?

She may have started off as a joke, but the 14-year-old had the last laugh in 2011 after her head-scratching success

Quick: What day comes after Thursday? Thanks to Rebecca Black, we'll never fail that pop quiz again. The Orange County, Calif., teenager's relentlessly singsongy TGIF anthem ''Friday'' was made possible by a $4,000 gift from her mom. When it went viral on March 11, she became the poster child for What's Wrong With Music These Days: the never-ending reign of grating teen pop, Auto-Tuned vocals, and skull-poundingly dumb dance music all combined in one make it stop! meme that your niece's BFF's babysitter forwarded to you at work. By year's end, after ''Friday'' had racked up over 10 million views on YouTube, popped up on Glee and Dancing With the Stars, and landed Black a cameo in a Katy Perry video, it also pretty much summed up What's Wrong With Kids These Days — namely, that they can launch a social-media empire but can't manage to string together a grammatical sentence. Forgive them: As Black explains, it's just that we we we so excited. Besides, it's fun, fun, fun, fun!

Grizzled oldsters past the age of 17 might resent Black for proving what they've always suspected about Gen-Y: They value fame more than talent. (''We don't hate you because you're famous,'' quipped one of Black's detractors on Twitter. ''You're famous because we hate you.'') But hey, achieving interweb ubiquity is working for Black. Just listen to ''My Moment,'' a song about triumphing over the haterz who dismissed ''Friday.'' The most uplifting part of Black's success? That anyone can be a pop star. The most depressing part? That anyone can be a pop star.

Originally posted Dec 16, 2011 Published in issue #1186-1187 Dec 23, 2011 Order article reprints