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Rebecca Black is rising from the ashes on Let Her Burn

On Rebecca Black’s debut studio album Let Her Burn, the viral pop star is shedding the stigma from her infamous hit “Friday” and finding her own voice. Read our interview. Continue reading…



Rebecca Black found fame long before she ever set out to. But in February of 2011, when 13-year-old Black’s video single “Friday” was posted to YouTube, it was immediately inescapable. And as it racked up millions of views, the then-middle schooler was unprepared as she was catapulted into a kind of viral fame that hadn’t quite existed before, and became a target for internet ridicule that took years to move on from.

“It was a really daunting process,” she explains over the phone from a Montreal coffee shop. In May, the singer, now 25, kicked off the North American leg of her tour in support of her debut album, Let Her Burn. It was a milestone she sometimes doubted she’d reach, but when it arrived, she finally felt ready to celebrate how far she’d come. “I just really wanted to encapsulate this time where I was not only coming to terms with who I am, but also letting everything that got me here burn. What matters is now.” 

Read more: Zeph finally finds her voice

More than a decade removed from the song that changed her life, it’s not hard to see Black as a phoenix rising from the ashes. Everything from the album’s title to her unbothered expression as she’s engulfed in flames on its cover feels like an act of defiance: the Rebecca Black who people might’ve dismissed, who followed her like a shadow for years, no longer exists. 

But before digging into the symbolism of Let Her Burn, it’s important to understand the winding, unconventional path Black took before she was ready to set her past ablaze. 

“Friday” was never meant to be an official debut into the music industry. It was through a middle school classmate that Black first learned about ARK Music Factory — a now-defunct entertainment company out of LA that produced original songs and music videos for aspiring young artists. It was supposed to be a fun experience, a way for Black’s supportive parents to encourage their daughter’s love of performance. 

Rebecca Black


[Photo by Sarah Pardini]

The song — one of two potential tracks that ARK presented to her — was a simple, if fairly repetitive, pop song about hanging out with friends. The music video was shot at her dad’s house and sat on YouTube for a few weeks to little fanfare until a Tosh.0 blog post alerted the masses to it. So, before she’d really developed her voice, started writing her own songs, or even gotten a chance to decide how serious she was about music, Black became synonymous with one of the most lambasted songs on the internet.  

As is often the case for young girls in the spotlight, the newfound attention made her the subject of intense bullying that no one, let alone a thirteen-year-old girl, would be prepared to deal with. She turned inward, grappling with self-doubt, anxiety, and the trauma of having become an object of the internet’s scorn before she’d even started high school. 

“My career was so far away at that point, at least that’s how it felt,” she recalls. “It was a lot of trying, failing, and starting over.” 

Slowly but surely, the ensuing years were ones of healing. She’d always been drawn to performing, describing herself as a “huge theater kid” who loved building her own worlds, telling stories, and transforming herself on stage. “I found that as a kid before ‘Friday’ was ever a thought,” she says. “That did change afterward. I spent a lot of time hitting myself over the head for ever having found an interest in that.” 

At the time, she felt disconnected from the things she used to love and misunderstood by the industry professionals she was working with. “I think if my journey had been me moving throughout the world, not really dealing with any other people after ‘Friday’ came out, it would’ve been a much more straightforward path of healing,” she says. “The people that I was working with were steering me in the wrong direction because they had no idea how to deal with a child at the time, and even after that no idea how to deal with a young woman in the industry.”

Eventually, Black found collaborators she clicked with — ones who weren’t interested in her viral fame, or in recontextualizing her image for their own gain. Artists Micah Jasper, Ceci G, and DCF became go-to collaborators on Black’s 2021 EP, Rebecca Black Was Here, as well as her debut. Finding them helped Black begin to trust herself again, and completely transformed her songwriting. “I wasn’t concerned with making something that people needed to understand,” she says. “Or something better than what I’d done before. I was just making music that I really, truly loved. It made so much more sense than anything I’d ever done before.” 



[Photo by Sarah Pardini]

There’s a palpable sense of freedom on Let Her Burn — it’s in the release of the chorus on “Look At You,” the shamelessness of “Misery Loves Company,” and the sensuality of “Doe Eyed.” Black’s delivery is confident, reminding the listener that she’s in control as she deftly switches lanes between synth-heavy bangers, sickeningly sweet pop songs, and the chaos of hyperpop. And through it all, the goal was letting go of the uncertainty that had plagued her before. 

“There were times [in the past] that I got so far off track from that because I was convinced the last person I should be trusting is myself,” she says. “That was one of the most fun parts of making this album, was allowing it to be really experimental and just moving through different ideas. Anything that didn’t feel natural didn’t make it onto the album.”

The album’s final track, “Performer,” strikes a distinctly different tone than the preceding songs. “No one really knows me/Is my independence/Comin’ back to bite me?” she sings. “I’m a performer/That’s what I know how to do” It felt right to end the album on this reflective note, Black said, explaining that she wrote the song toward the end of the recording process. “I found so many layers of confidence within myself while making the album,” she says. “But at the end of all these big, bombastic statements about myself, the truth is that I actually feel so outside of my own skin a lot of the time. I’m still working through this person who I’m hopefully becoming. That felt like the right place to leave it off.”

Black’s tour, which she describes as “a completely new show” from her UK run earlier this year, is a continuation of the joy and vulnerability she showcased on her album. It’s a glimpse into the world she’s slowly been building with her music as she came into her own. “I’ve been really trying to challenge myself,” she says. “The show definitely has a lot more story to it, it has more camp and a lot more absurdity. As much as I love a beautiful light show, I’ve had so much fun tapping back into the part of myself that was a theater kid who loves to create stories. It’s the most work I’ve put into anything ever.”

Now, after years of wondering if she’d ever be ready to truly put herself out there, it’s clear the real Rebecca Black hasn’t just arrived, she’s here to stay.


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