From The Classroom: Friday

| April 1, 2011
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<–Be sure to share the Friday insight from Seth with your facebook friends and twitter followers with the icons to the left, because it’s Friday, Friday!

I like to use this column to educate the older folks, those not on facebook or just feeling generally out of touch, about the sorts of things that create and define our culture. And last month, a video came out that may indeed have become a pillar of our culture.

Ark Music Factory is a small vanity record label where parents of little girls with big dreams can pay to have their daughter record a song. One such girl was Rebecca Black, whose song, Friday, an ode to partying and having fun as the weekend comes around, has become a viral hit on YouTube with nearly one hundred million views. She’s exploding in a big way–think Justin Bieber, except this time everyone knows she’s a girl.

Now, some people think that her song is “too heavily auto-tuned”, and that the lyrics are “stupid”, and that it is “terrible” “music”…but I have an opinion of my own. Do listen to the song, judge for yourself, and then read my letter. Let me know what you think–it’s certainly an interesting little tune.

Dear Dr. John Duffy (Chair, Harvard University Department of Classics),

I am writing to implore you to immediately incorporate Rebecca Black’s “Friday” into your curriculum. This timeless piece of lyrical poetry has delighted and enthralled listeners for over a month and a half, yet its cultural significance pales in comparison to its significant literary achievements. Each line of this song is more skillfully crafted than the entire book of Homer’s Oddysey, each syllable carries more meaning than one could find in five acts of Shakespeare. It would be a travesty for the best and brightest students at Harvard not to have an opportunity to study such a marvelous classic.

Below, to prove my point, I have included a copy of the poem, including a lyrical analysis explaining its significance and poetic innovation. I do hope you take this to heart and would urge you not to deny your students exposure to this essential piece of literature.

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark) (The poet opens with a phrase similar to that of a seal bark, setting the musical tone for the rest of the piece)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah (Here the author uses dialogue reminiscent of tribal chanting to create a fascinating melange of the ancient and the modern)
Yeah, yeah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah
Yeah-ah-ah (As we can see, repetition is used to great effect as a poetic device throughout the piece)
Yeah, yeah, yeah (The poet heavily emphasizes the word ‘yeah’, a revolutionary writing technique that all writers would do well to emulate)

7am, waking up in the morning (Here the author establishes the narrator’s omnipotence, as she is able to tell the time despite being blind due to mass quantities of eye shadow)
Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs (Here, a plot device that is frequently called “The Hero’s Journey” is used with great skill on the author’s part. Less successful attempts at “the hero’s journey” include Homer’s Odyssey)
Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal (Miss Black’s acknowledgement of the North American porcelain and grain processing industries reflect their importance to society at the time)
Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’ (The poet, acknowledging the linear motion of time, sheds new light in this line on the complex notions of time and space)
Gotta get down to the bus stop (The hero’s journey continues)
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends (My friends) (Here, the poet introduces an added element of urgency while, in the same line, introducing the theme of companionship. Brilliant)

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat (Here the poet presents a unique and vivid modern dichotomy that stuns its reader with its striking imagery)
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take? (The hero is presented with a moral dilemma, the answer to which may determine her fate and the very fate of the world. The mounting urgency and sympathy for the hero, who is about to make the hardest choice of her life, distinguish this poem from second-rate poetry like the Aeneid)

It’s Friday, Friday (Given that the poem has started in media res, with the hero’s awakening and breakfast, the poet now explains the setting)
Gotta get down on Friday (Here the purpose of the hero’s quest is established, an epic task that will enthrall readers for generations to come)
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend (The author gives a surreal and futuristic depiction of a society focused on a single goal. Orwell has met his match)
Friday, Friday (The author now adds more vivid detail to the scene)
Gettin’ down on Friday  (In a mere three lines, the hero has turned a goal, “gotta get down”, into a reality: “gettin’ down”. Miss Black is unquestionably the single most intrepid heroine in modern literature)
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah) (Here the author pays homage to the 21st century social gatherings at which his work is performed)
Fun, fun, fun, fun (Here, repetition is again used to stunning poetic effect)
Lookin’ forward to the weekend (Throughout this masterpiece, the author continues to write lines that inspire the reader with hope that lasts long beyond the final stanzas)

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway (Here the heroine, thirteen, illegally drives down the highway with her friends with no fear of police resistance, her bravery making her easily the most compelling character ever to appear in literature)
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly (Here the author personifies time in a unique way never seen before in literature)
Fun, fun, think about fun (The poem boldly challenges its readers to search within themselves and construct their own meanings for a deep and intricate concept)
You know what it is (The piece shows that it is geared to a more mature and understanding audience)
I got this, you got this (Here the poet proceeds to moralize, inspiring the readers with a sermon of self-confidence)
My friend is by my right (The poem is renowned for its striking attention to detail)
I got this, you got this
Now you know it (The speed and ease with which the poet is able to convince the readers to accept his moral is like nothing ever seen before)

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take? (The hero is once again faced with a challenge, and the reader sits on the edge of their seat in anticipation)

[Repeat Chorus] (Here the author uses rhyme and repetition to harken back to the delightful days of childhood, a technique that has a profound effect on the reader and is, quite frankly, revolutionized in this text)

Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday (Here the poet reflects on the past, and, through acknowledging its existence, glorifies it in all its splendor, celebrating the heroes of the classic Thursday era)
Today i-is Friday, Friday (Partyin’)
We-we-we so excited (Here, in order to form a grammatically correct sentence, the author innovatively and artfully uses ‘we’ as a verb)
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today (Though some less skilled readers may not grasp the metaphor, the poet is not talking about an actual ball, and is using creating a skillfully woven metaphor that may go down as one of history’s best)

Tomorrow is Saturday (Here the poet looks hopefully to the future, inspiring the reader with a sense of wonder for what is to come)
And Sunday comes after…wards (Now the author hints at the apocalypse, invoking religious elements in order to make his point)
I don’t want this weekend to end (The poet introduces the hero’s internal battle as she deals with conflicting desires over the impeding apocalypse, specifically “I want time to fly” and “I don’t want this weekend to end”, possibly one of the most visceral internal conflicts of modern literature)

R-B, Rebecca Black (Here the poet finally reveals to us our heroine’s name, signifying a turning point in the hero’s struggle for self-discovery)
So chillin’ in the front seat (In the front seat)
In the back seat (In the back seat) (The dichotomy of car seating arrangements that so frustrates the heroine is brought back again and immediately discarded without any further strife on her part, signifying that she has successfully completed her quest for self-discovery)
I’m drivin’, cruisin’ (Yeah, yeah)
Fast lanes, switchin’ lanes (The author describes a feat of reckless driving reminiscent of, and indeed surpassing, the festivals thrown in honor of Greek heroes)
Wit’ a car up on my side (Woo!) (Here it is believed that the poet went to sleep in the middle of writing the line, as interpreters cannot seem to agree what this means)
(C’mon) Passin’ by is a school bus in front of me (In this line the poet calls the decision-making skills of school-bus drivers into question for attempting to pass a car that is frequently switching lanes)
Makes tick tock, tick tock, wanna scream (Here we can do nothing but marvel, or, as the poet suggests, scream, at his creativity for having created a world where buses go tick tock)
Check my time, it’s Friday, it’s a weekend (And again, the author’s Utopian otherworld becomes the subject of the reader’s awe. The watch that tells the days of the week has extreme political significance and is one of the most powerful allegories ever to have been used)
We gonna have fun, c’mon, c’mon, y’all (And with this resounding ending to the epic, the chorus is played twice and begins to slowly fade, leaving the reader to sit in awe at the story’s skillful language, intrepid heroine, and unforgettable journey.)

Sincerely yours,

Seth

But of course, once the reader has done that, he has to wonder whether Ark Music Factory is just really dumb or trying to make us illiterate.

What do you think? Is writing a song with lyrics this terrible an affront to music and teaching our children that it’s OK to sound illiterate, or is a song like this not damaging, just a fun little ditty that may not have much of a mind to it? Do leave a comment.

Go get down (as long as it’s Friday),

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Category: COLUMNS

About the Author ()

Fish Stark is a 16-year-old Edgewater resident. He likes laughing, politics, and Reese's cups. His least favorite beverage is unleaded gasoline. His two novels can be read here: http://www.eyeonannapolis.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/First-Daughter.pdf and here: http://www.eyeonannapolis.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/ConventionDRAFT1.pdf His stand-up comedy and amateur filmmaking can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/user/theoFishalfishstark

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