It’s Friday

18 Mar

What better time could there be for Kevin Chow’s musings on existentialism and escapism (in the music of Rebecca Black)?

Escapism and Existentialistm: Rebecca Black’s Friday as a Neo-Marxist Vision of Post-modern American Life

(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

Black’s first verse marks the narrator’s birth and entrance into society. The beginning of the song ambitiously represents the violent act of being born – the breathy, LaMaz-esque delivery of “yeah-ah-ah” and “yeah, yeah, yeah” cleverly alludes to the ejection of the narrator from the warmth of mother’s womb and into the cold world. As the verse kicks in, it is time for the narrator to wake up, literally and figuratively, and begin the process of socialization into Black’s drab depiction of American economic life.

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’
Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends (My friends)

The narrator’s world, from here on out, is dictated by time, Black’s metaphor for the relentless sense of urgency to conform to the demands of her consumerist, suburban surroundings. The lines, “Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs | gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal” mimic the repetition of messages of material desire perpetuated within the suburban middle class, in which, for Black, each member inhabits his or her own private liminal state of constant, unfulfilling desire in the face of utterly futile competition. In this frenzied rat race, we see that the stakes are quickly becoming more and more dire for the narrator.

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

As she waits, the narrator finds that she must quickly choose a seat in her friends’ car – a concrete representation of each individual’s role as a passive economic passenger within the larger consumerist machine. The narrator’s existential doubt is expressed as a question in the song’s chorus – “which seat can I take?” This question is Black’s elegant summation of the modern condition, in which the narrator’s destination has already been determined (death); yet, by contemplating her eventual role as an economic producer, if only for a moment, she truly believes in the illusion of choice and personal agency within a system that will never allow her to become more than a mere passenger.

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

What then, is the narrator’s reaction to the crushing reality of her powerlessness? The only answer is escapism. For the narrator, the weekend, though brief, represents her only respite from the crippling banality of her existence. By partying (we can only assume the narrator intends to engage in lascivious orgies of the flesh), the narrator is able to create a temporal framework to view the world – the narrator dichotomizes the weekday from the weekend, mortality from immortality, in order to give herself the illusion of control over time:

Fast lanes, switchin’ lanes
Wit’ a car up on my side (Woo!)
(C’mon) Passin’ by is a school bus in front of me
Makes tick tock, tick tock, wanna scream
Check my time, it’s Friday, it’s a weekend
We gonna have fun, c’mon, c’mon, y’all

Try as she might, the narrator cannot outrun the constant “tick tock” of time, its infuriating and unrelenting march signaling the narrator’s eventual death in her mind. The cyclical and repetitive nature of the rest of the song serve to sonically highlight the tragedy and meaninglessness of narrator’s cyclical ‘danse macabre’ – as much as she never “wants this weekend to end,” we know that her attempts to carve out a permanent, authentic experience for herself are fruitless. She will remain trapped within her mundane, temporal prison on earth, only able to sing and dream of her true escape until it actually arrives – her demise.

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One Response to “It’s Friday”

  1. littl3foot 2011/03/18 at 5:08 PM #

    This is brilliant Kev

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