Allow Rebecca Black to re-introduce herself. 10 years after Black's Friday became a global meme, she's had a musical rebirth with the release of her new EP Rebecca Black Was Here. It's unprecedented, really. It's not easy to rebound from virality, good or bad, but over the past decade, Black has been carving her sound and working on her relationship with the internet.
Just as Friday has become nostalgic to those that grew up with it, Black has presented her vision for pop's future. Rebecca Black Was Here is sprawling, detouring project that dabbles in maximalist hyperpop and glossy disco. It's undeterred by opinions, if anything it's spurred on by challenging listeners. From the triumphant pop of Girlfriend to the distorting and glitching NGL, it's one of the more exciting projects you're likely to hear this year.
"I made this commitment to keep moving forward for myself and keep trying to understand how to find that," Black says over Zoom from LA.
"If I could never find that, I mean, I would just be living a miserable life forever living in the shadow of that girl."
That girl, you have to assume, is the teenage Black, the one that was almost chewed up by the meme machine. It's a commitment she's been able to keep too. For the past decade, she's sporadically released music moving from cheery, country-tinged pop to the daring, realised songs she's releasing now.
The sounds she explores on Rebecca Black Was Here is the most comfortable we've ever heard her which is a somewhat funny thing to say about a project that's as challenging as it is. That's the point though. While making it, she was asking herself, "what boundaries can we push? What expectations can we break?"
She wrote the majority of it in quarantine last year, getting over a breakup while living under her parent's roof once again. The isolation led to a period of trial-and-error, allowing her time to blow her sound up and rebuilt it. As a creator, she's found peace. She's spent years working on owning her identity - taking it back from the internet. "I've tried to take as much time as I've been able to have to learn how to take that leadership back," as she puts it.
In the past few years, Black and her music have been embraced by plenty of new communities. In April of last year, she came out as queer and has quickly embraced her role as a queer pop star. Girlfriend is a celebration of that. She's also been embraced by the greater hyperpop community, forging a musical relationship with artists like Dorian Electra and 100 Gecs.
Black has been a fan and has been veering towards making that sort of music for years. It's also a genre that holds a deep nostalgia for headline-grabbing '00s pop music. It has a way of taking that music and projecting it into the future. It seems like a full circle moment then that Friday was remixed for its 10th anniversary by Dylan Brady of 100 Gecs and also featured Electra.
"Even before the Friday remix existed publicly, people were asking for a Gecs Friday remix. It's crazy," she says, noting how natural the transition into hyperpop has been.
The Friday remix is supercharged. Black's vocals are pitched up and thrown into a world of glitchy beats and glossy synths. In the video, Black nods to '00s meme culture and features her gold record awarded to her for the song's sales. Once again, it's a reclamation.
While Black says there are still a lot of "antiquated ways of thinking" that need to be challenged further, things are changing. She's excited by queer pop artists like Lil Nas X calling him "what young people need right now". She's also witnessed some pockets over social media becoming ever-so-slightly less cruel.
"I think one thing that's really stuck out to me over the past couple of years is the amount of people who unprompted will send me a message or write something somewhere that is apologetic about something that they might have said a few years ago, or maybe 10 years ago," she says.
It's small but it's progress. And that's what Black is all about. Moving forward.
"I'm searching for the moment. Something that is genuinely exciting and not just the easy thing to do," she says.
Right now, Rebecca Black Was Here is the moment.