by Rebecca Black
Released February 9, 2023
Reviewed March 13, 2023
Top tracks (based on community voting)
Destroy Me (70%), Doe Eyed (60%), Look At You (50%)
In what could be expanded to a full-on case study, Rebecca Black’s journey from “Friday” to where she is now is one of the most fascinating stories in both current pop music and early 2010s internet lore.
It’s hard to explain the true phenomenon that “Friday” was in 2011 to someone who didn’t live through it. If you were there, you know.
If you weren’t, here’s a quick rundown: Rebecca Black was 13 when “Friday” was released, and sure, the song was not good. But, the amount of negative attention and backlash was absolutely over-the-top excessive for what was a completely innocuous song by a teenager. Almost anyone with a platform at the time—YouTube commentators, Daniel Tosh of Tosh.0 (again, had to be there), etc.—was eager to dunk on an easy target. And almost anyone with a YouTube account seemed just as willing. Commenters went as far as attacking anything and everything from her singing to her looks (again, she was 13…), Yahoo! Music asked if it was “the worst song ever,” and it was at one point the most disliked video on the entirety of YouTube. To laugh at the video is one thing, but the hate for “Friday” was another; unwarranted and overblown barely even begin to describe it.
It’s now been over twelve years since “Friday,” and the idea of a viral video, or even virality as a concept, feel completely different. The internet has always moved fast, but a lot of things come and go without as much thought as they once did. Rebecca Black never fully disappeared from the internet—or from making music—in the years that followed. “Friday” seemed to always follow her, but Let Her Burn marks a new chapter in which Rebecca Black is moving past all of that and into her new position as a bonafide popstar.
Let Her Burn isn’t about erasing or correcting the past in regards to “Friday.” With the backlash that accompanied it, it feels like Black’s image has been burning from the moment that video gained traction. With Let Her Burn, she has accepted this, moved on, and separated herself from the girl in that video. But, not in the sense of embarrassment or regret—rather, through self-discovery that evidently proves her to be a much different person than she was at 13 (as we all are).
Bouncing between hyperpop, electropop, and pop rock—among others—Let Her Burn boasts a collection of instrumentals right in line with all of the current pop trends. It’s almost like a checklist of key moods or sounds; you’ve got the moody tracks, drum n’ bass and industrial influences, and the bouncy danceability of the album’s relatively straightforward synthpop and dance-pop cuts. Wanna knock points off for a lack of originality? Go ahead, but don’t act like the production doesn’t deliver from the pure viewpoint of being a bop.
Similarly, you won’t find Rebecca Black reinventing any of pop’s songwriting conventions. But what you will find is three of the catchiest goddamn hooks you can imagine placed back-to-back-to-back with “Crumbs,” “Doe Eyed,” and “Sick To My Stomach.” There is a baseline of reflection on many of the tracks, often relating to feelings of longing, bittersweet memories, and the mixed bag of emotions that come with a breakup. On the surface, Black doesn’t present the most unique observations— but the emotions are real and relatable.
An outlier of sorts, the album’s closer, “Performer,” is the most directly introspective as Black’s struggles with self-discovery and expression—especially in contrast to her public persona—are laid out plainly. It’s a brilliant way to end the album, giving us a further glimpse into her ability as a songwriter when she chooses to become truly vulnerable.
At just over 30 minutes, Let Her Burn ends on a note that leaves you wanting more. And whether that comes in the form of introspective ballads or electropop excellence, Rebecca Black’s debut proves she can deliver on both. – Dominick (8.3/10)
Dominick: 8.3/10 | Alan: 8/10 | Victoria: 8/10 | DeVán: 6.5/10 | Cam: 6.3/10 | Jared: 5.5/10
This is a really great debut album. I love the energy, and it embodies much of what I love about pop music. – @paralyzedvampyre (8/10)