Rebecca Black’s “Friday” – A Lyrical Analysis

March 21, 2011 at 11:43 pm 6 comments

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet for the past week you’ll probably have heard of young Rebecca Black and her (s)hit song “Friday”. While the song has mostly been mocked by online trolls who didn’t get the message Rebecca was putting across in her song, for others (like me) the lyrics provided a biting commentary on today’s society.

With this in mind I thought I would give my interpretation of the song’s lyrics, then suggest an alternative set of lyrics that may help make Miss Black’s message less ambiguous.

Firstly, here’s the song for those who haven’t heard it yet:

Here, then, is my analysis of the song’s lyrics.

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

While to the common listener these monosyllabic  sounds have merely been added to introduce Miss Black’s voice to the song earlier than the verse intends, in reality her commentary has already begun. By making these simple noises (in particular the “ah ah ah” and “ooh ooh ooh” sounds) she’s comparing herself to Neanderthal man.

By doing so she warns us that the scenario she’s about to describe to us may be the makings of a so-called “advanced” society, but in reality we are no better off than our socially inept ancestry.

7am, waking up in the morning

By setting the scene in this manner Miss Black is pointing out the banality of modern life. She always wakes up at 7am regardless of her situation. She’s telling us that her life is a constant repetition and that, in her eyes, while we all dream about making something of ourselves, in reality we live a repetitive existence until the grave.

Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs

Modern society accepts nothing less than perfection from the moment the day begins, so Miss Black refuses to even go downstairs and join her family for breakfast before she is “fresh”, lest she risk judgment on her appearance. The concept of going “downstairs” is also a metaphor for her life’s constant downward progression.

Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal

Possession is nine tenths of the law, and possessions are also what drives today’s society. Rebecca isn’t content with having her breakfast in any old bowl, it has to be her own personal bowl because it somehow is more comforting to her to use something marked as hers.

Meanwhile, her insistence on having cereal is a byproduct of the power of persuasive television advertising. For years western audiences have been told that cereal is “part of a nutritious breakfast” and as a result many of us have become dependent on it.

Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’

We are living in a society where many different media and are vying for our attention. We only have a finite number of hours on this planet and whether it’s the news, social networking, video games, music, movies, books or the like, our attention is divided by all these different sources. As a result, we are constantly rushing from medium to medium, eager to soak up as much as we can until our time inevitably runs out.

Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends

Today’s public transportation system leaves a lot to be desired. A lack of frequent buses means that if someone misses a bus they’re unlikely to catch another for a long time. As a result, the outlook for Rebecca’s morning is essentially controlled by the efficiency of her local bus service.

Upon spotting her friends, however, Rebecca realises that she doesn’t necessarily have to be restricted by the shackles of her daily commute, and instead can gain more freedom (of sorts) by riding in her friends’ car instead.

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

The common misconception here is that by “kickin”, Miss Black is referring to the common youth slang for having a fun time. In reality, the scene she sets is somewhat more literal. She is referring to the practice of sitting in a seat and literally kicking the seat of the person in front of her, causing them discomfort. This is a practice which occurs often in cinemas, and often the victim of the seat kicking is too scared to confront the aggressor.

By describing this scenario and then posing her question – which seat should she take – Miss Black is explaining that life is full of winners and losers and only she is in control of her own destiny. Will she be the person who gets her seat kicked, or will she be the one doing the kicking?

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday

Again, the term “get down” does not in fact refer to partying. Instead, it’s a suggestion that regardless of the fact that Friday is the last working day of the week, employees are still expect to get their heads down and work hard until working hours are over. This lyric, therefore, is a criticism of the oppressive nature of upper-level management in many businesses.

Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend

Due to the nature of the working environment, we are all living with the mindset of ever looking forward to two out of seven days in the week. Miss Black is clearly not happy with this and feels the negative share of each week far outweighs the positive.

Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

The repetition of this mantra simply reinforces the point that this is a perpetual process which happens week in, week out.

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Rebecca is bored with her peers’ constant fixation with the need to go out and party when the long-awaited weekend is finally with them. Her constant repetition of the word “partyin” suggests that it’s all they ever think about and all they ever do. Her friends, oblivious to her concerns, gleefully shout “YEAH” in delirium.

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly

Having stated her previous concerns that there isn’t enough time in the day to digest the many forms of media vying for our attention, Rebecca shows her defiance to this system by encouraging the time to pass by. Simple pleasures such as driving a car are more important to her than being brainwashed by the media.

Fun, fun, think about fun
You know what it is

Life these days is a fairly miserable existence, and in order to have enjoy life one must constantly remind themselves to do so. “Fun, fun, think about fun” refers to the thought process many of us are going through as we continue to seek happiness. And though we may “know what it is”, we don’t necessarily know how to get it.

I got this, you got this

This is a call back to Rebecca’s concerns about our obsession with possessions. People are constantly comparing what they have with what others have, and Rebecca does not approve.

My friend is by my right

Rebecca’s friend is a right-wing racist.

I got this, you got this
Now you know it

Rebecca repeats her concerns on our need for material possessions, and implies that by hearing these concerns you may now share a similar viewpoint.

Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today i-is Friday, Friday

The repetition of the words suggests that since working days are so similar and mindless in nature, it’s sometimes necessary to keep reminding oneself what day it currently is. We are becoming mindless automatons, incapable of retaining information without our smartphones or diaries.

We-we-we so excited
We so excited

This is perhaps the most controversial lyric in the whole song. Rebecca is clearly unhappy with the western media’s handling of the tragic, horrendous events that have followed the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, in particular the ongoing saga of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. She believes that the media is covering the Fukushima incident in such a sensationalist way that they almost want something bad to happen so they can make more money off the huge news. Her use of stereotypical mock Japanese sentence structure with the phrase “we so excited”  is a criticism of both the western world’s ignorance to Japanese culture, and the western media’s excitement at the tragic events ongoing.

We gonna have a ball today

By avoiding the dull, repetitive act of taking the school bus and instead travelling by car with her friends, the world is now Rebecca’s oyster and she feels she is far more likely to enjoy herself

Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes afterwards
I don’t want this weekend to end

Even during the weekend, this period of enjoyment and relaxation, there is still a lingering feeling in the back of our minds that after Friday there is Saturday, then Sunday, and then we are back into the grind of the working week. We are slaves to the corporate machine, and we are destined to live our lives in this way until retirement or death.

And that, my friends, is my analysis. Yes, there’s some rapping in there too but that’s just rapping, it doesn’t mean anything.

In short, Rebecca Black is a visionary, a social commentator of the same ilk as Rage Against The Machine, U2 and Sinead O’Connor. Except her friends look like idiots.

Here, then, are my alternative lyrics to the song:

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
We are no different to neanderthals

Waking up at the same time every day
Society demands I look my best
Possessions and breakfast are important to me
The media’s tryin’ to get my attention
But there’s no time to see everythin’
Public transport is poor at best
So I might take my friends’ car instead

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Am I the kicker
Or am I the kickee?

It’s Friday, Friday
But regardless, we have to work
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days
Friday, Friday
Workin’ hard on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days

I hate partying all the time (we love it)
I hate partying all the time (we love it)
Dance, dance, dance, dance
That’s all we do during the weekend

I’d rather go driving with my friends
Than check Facebook or watch the news
We have to keep reminding ourselves to have fun
But we don’t always have it
The things I own are better than the things you own
My friend is a racist
The things I own are better than the things you own
Now I’ve repeated this, you should understand it now

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Am I the kicker
Or am I the kickee?

It’s Friday, Friday
But regardless, we have to work
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days
Friday, Friday
Workin’ hard on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days

I hate partying all the time (we love it)
I hate partying all the time (we love it)
Dance, dance, dance, dance
That’s all we do during the weekend

Yesterday was boring, boring
Today is boring too, too
The media’s coverage of Japan is sensationalist
It’s so sensationalist
Stick your bus, I’m in a car bitch

Tomorrow is a day off
And another one comes afterwards
But I’m still think about work on Monday

[Rapping]

It’s Friday, Friday
But regardless, we have to work
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days
Friday, Friday
Workin’ hard on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days

I hate partying all the time (we love it)
I hate partying all the time (we love it)
Dance, dance, dance, dance
That’s all we do during the weekend

It’s Friday, Friday
But regardless, we have to work
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days
Friday, Friday
Workin’ hard on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days

I hate partying all the time (we love it)
I hate partying all the time (we love it)
Dance, dance, dance, dance
That’s all we do during the weekend

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It’s Mister Nasty Time About Last Night’s Dream

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jimbob  |  March 21, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    What about when they drive the car? Aren’t they like 13 years old? Does that have some sort of meaning? Like, say…Children are behind the wheel of the USA? 😉

    Reply
  • 2. Tim Koumori Davis  |  March 22, 2011 at 11:51 am

    This is brilliantly analytical. I take my hat off to you sir.

    Reply
  • 3. toady  |  March 22, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    This is absolutley genuis (not the song lol)

    Reply
  • 4. yirba  |  March 24, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    It all makes sense!

    Whoever would have thought that such effort would have been put into these lyrics.

    Reply
  • 5. Sam  |  April 5, 2011 at 3:19 am

    lets be honest with ourselves, the song isnt that deep. Its a song made to make a quick buck. The lyrics are shallow to the extreme which is a reflection in our society and shitheads like you who try to make into some deep work of art.

    Reply
    • 6. chrisscullion  |  April 14, 2011 at 12:48 pm

      Sounds to me like someone can’t get a joke as it’s passing over their head.

      Reply

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