7am, waking up in the morning
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal
Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’
Rebecca Black is 13 years old. She’s got her whole life ahead of her. There’s no need for her to rush. But she senses it, dimly, the way time crashes in, leaving loss and regret in its wake. We see her family rushing by, senselessly, while Rebecca clings to a moment. We’ve all clung to childish things like a favourite bowl. I had a favourite yellow mug for years that I used to drink from every morning. It smashed. There was talk of it being replaced, but that never came to anything.
Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends
Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?
As childhood ends and we enter the adult world, we face complexities we couldn’t have imagined before. Rebecca is rapidly becoming a young woman. The front seat or the back seat? Here she is referencing Arcade Fire’s In The Backseat and its use of locations in a car as metaphors for passivity and growth; it’s peaceful in the back seat, but sometimes we realise we’ve actually been learning to drive while watching the world go by. And which seat can Rebecca take? Will her life be driven by others, or will she learn to make her own choices?
It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend
7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly
Fun, fun, think about fun
‘Fun, fun, think about fun’ – it’s a mantra, and a desperate one. Rebecca wants time to fly so the weekend can arrive, but we see the tightness in her eyes, and we feel she knows that every golden weekend of youth is just a stepping stone to future sadness. Does she discern that these carefree Fridays can’t last? At 13 does she picture herself, at 26, spending her Fridays desperately downing drink after drink in a bar, hoping someone will notice her before it’s too late? Can she imagine being 39, grateful just to get to the end of the working week without sobbing in the toilets, and dragging herself home, red-eyed and exhausted?
Yesterday was Thursday (Thursday)
Today is Friday (Friday)
We-we-we so excited
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today
Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes afterwaaaaaards
I don’t want this weekend to end
We never want it to end. But it must. All things must. It’s happened subtly, but at some point Friday has shifted from being a lament for the death of childhood, and become a statement about the pointlessness of all existence itself. All we have left are the days of the week, as the pages of the calendar turn and detach like brown leaves from a wet branch. And then, as the heat death of the universe approaches, even those certainties must pass.
The anonymous rapper senses it too, time’s arrow embodied in a yellow bus. All those potential futures in one vehicle, ticking away to nothing.
Is it any wonder that the Friday video surfaced now, in the last week of winter? In many cultural traditions we are about to celebrate the dawn of a new year as the vernal equinox approaches. It is a good time to reflect on the cruel, impersonal patterns of the universe. The cycle of life and death, of destruction and rebirth, continues, for now. Rebecca Black is 13 years old. It is Friday.