“Friday” by Rebecca Black: An applied philosophical analysis

With an abundance of literary analysis available on classical and contemporary literature, there is virtually no shortage of text available on a variety of classics. Our human nature prompts many of us to dig deeper, and look beyond the simple surface story in most texts. English and literature courses spend hours dissecting such texts, in an attempt to extract the “true meaning,” and look under the surface at a deeper, more profound intention on the part of the author.

Yes, on the surface, Hamlet is attempting to avenge his father’s death, Willy Loman is searching for his piece of the American dream, and Bella simply wants to find happiness in the arms of her nocturnal and misunderstood true love. Underneath the surface, however, these works demand our closer attention, as they all contain a deeper meaning hidden in even the most simple of words and phrases.

Rebecca Black’s timeless classic “Friday” is one such work. It simply begs for a closer look at its haunting and complex message hidden beneath the surface of its light and airy lyrics.

I have attempted, herein, to fill this need.

First off, for those unfortunate enough not to have heard this song, I will post the official video. The lyrics, along with the edgy and thought-provoking video, combine to forge a lovely marriage of words and music, you’ll agree.

After watching this video and listening to the song, you are no doubt struck with similar thoughts as me: Ms. Black is contemplating and exploring one of the most thought-provoking motifs found in music and literature. She is clearly dissecting the notions of human mortality, and the life long argument of fate vs. free will. She does so in such a clever and subtle way, that one would almost swear they were listening to a completely shallow, brainless, and inane song. This is simply not the case, especially for those willing to look a bit closer.

Let me expound on this.

One of the first symbols we no doubt notice is Ms. Black’s constant allusion to time. In fact, it is a constant and pervasive theme throughout her song.  The title even alludes to time, in the sense that “friday” is a day which signifies the end of the traditional school week, work week, etc…and more importantly, in a more symbolic sense, signifies the end of a predetermined span of time. Ms. Black seems to be acknowledging the existence of fate, at least in the sense that the structure of the “week” has been pre-determined, and therefore we are bound to its rules and rigid outline. However, as we further explore her song, she also seems to be bravely and strongly advocating that we do have a certain amount of free will as well, if we choose to exercise it.

Let us look a bit further.

One moral dilemma Ms. Black explores in her song, as stated earlier, is that of free will. More specifically, the song is actually a silent and fervent prayer to the heavens, where we hear her scream out, “Gotta make my mind up, which seat can I take?” In a heartbreaking vulnerability which we can all relate to on a human level, she repeats this desperate plea many times throughout her song. It is clear that it is a question not merely to herself, but to her Creator as well. She is on the precipice of life, and deciding which path to take: that of a good and honorable person, or that of an evil, insidious human, capable of despicable and horrible acts. Even as the song ends, we are unaware, as she may be, which path she will take in life. The song echoes in our hearts because we understand the frailty of the human psyche, and our constant temptation to choose the “evil” path. Ms. Black’s song serves as a reminder of this somber thought.

What may appear on the surface as an idiotic repetition of the sequence of days in the week, Ms. Black, once again, very cleverly reminds us of our mortality, and that our moments are numbered and pre-determined:

“Yesterday was Thursday, today is Friday…tomorrow is Saturday, and Sunday comes afterwards. I don’t want this weekend to end.”

Wow…

This is deep. When I first heard this, I was floored. It’s as if Ms. Black has peered into our collective human hearts, and has exposed our vulnerability. She has forced us to contemplate and face our imminent demise, and she is likewise agreeing that the days race by much too fast, and she too doesn’t want it to end. Like most of us, she merely wants some sign, some modicum of reassurance that she is on the right path. That her choices are sound and solid.

Us too, Ms. Black…us too. We are totally with you, and like you, we are “looking forward to the weekend.” Thanks to your brave song, we are now armed with the insight and inner strength to persevere.

Thank you for that.

-Z

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