Who is Rebecca Black? Her name has been popping up like a whack-a-mole these last few days so I investigated. I was unsurprised to discover that, like every new name that appears these days, she is 'the new teen pop sensation'. Popstars, like Sharon Osbourne, seem to be getting younger all the time. Jedward came along a couple of years ago, and have some how managed to extrapolate their unjustly-assigned 15 minutes of fame to stretch longer than their lack of talent had the novelty value to stretch. They were like a 'new' Cheeky Girls. Younger, more identical and worse singers. But next to the influx of new child stars, swarming into the charts like a tsunami of pre-pubescent trash, Jedward look like ageing pop veterans, like the exhumed corpses of the Rolling Stones which gyrate around the stage, crumbling skeletons with too much skin hanging off them.
It began with Bieber. The YouTube star shot to fame at about fifteen, and although he's now seventeen, he still looks about five years younger and sums up the cynical marketing of the music industry aimed squarely at the pockets of gullible teenage girls and their long-suffering but problem-fuelling parents. (See 'Pop Song' by Jon Lajoie)
Then came the Smith children. They have been around for a while, granted, but generally just in an acting capacity. The only problem I have with child actors is they tend to be awful (see Jake Lloyd from Phantom Menace), but I accept the need for children to act in things, unless they want to start using dwarfs instead, or reverse-ageing Brad Pitt like they did in Benjamin Button. But now the Smiths are doing music too. 12 year old Jaden is in a Bieber track at the moment, presumably to make Bieber look older. If fact, Bieber is now bordering on the above-mentioned Rolling Stones analogy. And his 10 year old sister has just released her second single, the video for which includes a toddler, the only way they could possibly make her look older without putting her next an embryo.
Willow Smith poses a challenge for music executives. There are few, if not no, young women in the charts who are not heavily sexualised in their lyrics and branding. The willingness to avoid this is probably why Willow ended up with the bizarre 'Whip My Hair' song.
Another up-and-coming 'sensation' is Grayson Chance, the 11 year old who did a (rather good) live rendition of Lady Gaga's Paparazzi at a school talent show and is now rather famous for it.
Where will it end? The 'internet sensation' of that 'Charlie bit me' kid getting autotuned in a pop song? Will they keep getting younger? Will parents get a pre-emptive record deal before trying for kids? Is anyone else struggling to remember a time when kids were pleased to get their 25m swimming certificate or do well in a spelling test, without needing to have had a top ten hit by the time they start high school? Well, I'll tell you where it will end: Rebecca Black.
Rebecca Black, remember that name.. 15 000 000 hits on YouTube since her video was uploaded last month.
In many ways this is the end result of the teen-pop trend. Is it a parody? Is it real? Does it really matter? If it's real then God help us all. My first impression was that it's not real. The video is insanely cheap and tacky and the lyrics are so awful they can surely only be parody? The miming is awful and the vocals like the Crazy Frog mixed with tinnitus. Also, she looks a bit older than 13. In fact, I thought it was so clearly a parody I felt slightly embarrassed for all the people seriously dubbing it the 'worst pop song ever'. Either way it is the end result of the pop industry going crazy and either producing this, or driving someone else to.
It turns out the truth may be somewhere between the two. According to the Independent (yes, I couldn't believe they were covering this either, with all the uprisings, cuts and natural disasters going on) http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/the-worst-pop-song-of-all-time--10-million-youtube-hits-for-rebecca-blacks-friday-2245353.html the song comes from a 'music factory' where rich parents (of presumably 'Super Sweet 16' level spoil brats) pay to have their spawn record a song and star in a music video, possibly in the hope of getting noticed. This has certainly worked for wee Becky, although for all the wrong reasons. Having said that, she'll probably still get a record deal and make millions, thus the hideous cycle continues.