Rebecca Black became the unwitting target of social media ridicule when she was only 14. Her first single, Friday, surpassed Justin Bieber’s Baby as the most disliked YouTube music video of all-time practically overnight and earned her the sole distinction of being the most harassed singer of the last 30 years. Unlike Justin Bieber, who was crucified and venerated in equal measure, Black received nothing but personal attacks and death threats, mostly from older viewers roughly 10 years her senior. Cancel culture in its current form hadn’t been invented yet, but the unwarranted public lampooning of Rebecca Black certainly provided part of the movement’s rather nauseating foundations.
The bullying soon took over Rebecca Black’s personal life, forcing the young singer to drop out of school and stay home for the time being. Concerned for Black’s mental health, YouTube removed the video, but it was too late; her legacy had already been written for her. She made YouTube history for all the wrong reasons.
Being smited by strangers and common contacts both — at such a young age — was enough to put the Irvine native into early retirement, and for a while that seemed to be the case. But Black is back and tougher than ever; the now-23-year-old underwent a top-down makeover, shedding her wholesome, teeny bopper, fresh-faced persona for a racier, more adult look, and it is with this mask she releases her newest, and possibly most erotic, music video yet: her latest single, Worth It For The Feeling. In it, Rebecca Black dons a tight-fitting Playboy Bunny suit, complete with matching net stockings, a blonde wig and a plunging neckline, and a pair of cotton gloves with retrofitted fake nails. The music video is thematically consistent with her outfit. There’s a retro television set in one of the rooms. More women in bunny suits abound. Shots alternate between a poker game and shocking red bedcovers straight out of Hugh Hefner’s chambers. It’s an entirely new Rebecca Black and we are loving it. Check out the sultry new video below:
Worth It For The Feeling betrays a hint of Rebecca Black’s browbeaten past. The song begins with the Friday songbird trying in vain to remind herself to “be more careful with the sh*t” she’s “manifesting” and asks the time-honored Hollywood question of whether being widely harassed has all been a dream or a test. Black seems to reminisce on old times, cynically muttering, “Here we go again.” Judging by her choice of lyrics, she seems fully aware of the massive toll releasing Friday took on her (“Last time it took us down to the bitter end”) and she claims she’s nowhere close to “healing,” and yet like a drug, remaining in the public sphere is “worth it for the feeling.” She’s determined not to look back, alleging “that pain is dead,” but also wonders if by continuing on this journey, “history is repeating.”
The rest of the song fleshes out how Rebecca Black would have felt at the height of her very public bashing: “Gotta be honest, I’m scared to lose myself. After all the drama, I felt like someone else.” She concludes the song by admitting she’s been having “trouble sleeping” but finds no way out, explaining she feels “stuck inside this dream.” She punctuates her heartfelt confession — made catchy and sensual in the song — with her various regrets. She’s spent all this time listening to everybody else all the while taking her “own intuition” for granted, admitting it’s cost her a ton of otherwise good decisions.
Worth It For The Feeling almost reads like an open letter to every single tormenter Rebecca Black had to endure growing up in the media spotlight the way she did. The steamy exterior may simply be a flashy front to attract her longtime haters to the infinitely more important message underneath. Sounds distractingly overdone, but when your childhood bullies happen to be 90% of the internet, measures this drastic absolutely must be taken. We live in a new era of self-empowerment. Thanks to social media, celebrities no longer require middlemen to speak for them; they can finally face hecklers and bullies head-on, reclaiming their voice and calling out injustice with their own two hands. Rebecca Black couldn’t have chosen a more era-appropriate — and dare we say, classy — response.
Rebecca Black has come a long way since 2011’s controversial Friday. Emboldened by time, she reuploaded the music video that pretty much destroyed her life, following it up with a battery of new songs and covers every year since 2016, in her efforts to move past the harrowing experience of Friday and reinvent her public image altogether. The new Rebecca Black is releasing her first studio album, Rebecca Black Was Here, on June 16.