Rebecca Black's omnipresent "Friday" has been dubbed "The Worst Song Ever" by many and is officially the most "disliked" video on YouTube. (With 1.2 million "dislikes," it beats Justin Bieber's "Baby" by almost 80,000.) But all this isn't stopping the man behind the song from speaking out. You see, little 13-year-old Rebecca actually had very little to do with the notorious song or video.
Patrice Wilson, the founder of Ark Music Factory and seemingly random rapper in Rebecca's video, is taking responsibility for this dubious phenomenon in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times. While previously depicted as being "a kind of Suge Knight of the preteen schoolyard" and accused of using young girls' dreams for his own financial advantage, in the L.A. Times article he's described as a "sad-eyed babyface" and "well-mannered, well-traveled, and well-educated."
Born in Africa to a chemical-engineer father and minister mother, Wilson grew up singing in his mom's church. After attending medical school in Europe and even training in track-and-field events for the 2000 Olympics, he decided to pursue music instead. He toured as a backup singer with Eastern European pop singer Ibrahim Maiga and studied "the business side of entertainment" at Whitman College in Washington state (which actually doesn't have a business department listed on its website), before, of course, moving to Hollywood.
Now Wilson heads up the Ark Music Factory, which charges kids a mere $2,000 to $4,000 to help them fulfill their pop-star dreams. Ark's kids get an original song, studio time, a photo shoot, image consulting, a music video, and promotion. Considering that major labels drop $10,000 to $15,000 on lower-end videos, Ark Music Factory's fees are kind of a bargain. But the children and their parents have to be dedicated to music, not the pursuit of fame, emphasizes Wilson. "I don't promise anyone fame. In fact, if someone approaches me with their only goal to 'get famous,' I tell them they're not in this for the right reasons."
However, it is infamy that Rebecca Black and her parents got for their money, although that's probably not what they ever expected. Since "Friday" went viral, even celebrities have been commenting on the online phenomenon; while Miley Cyrus told an Australian newspaper, "It should be harder to be an artist," Lady Gaga called Rebecca "a genius" while defending the tween singer during a Q&A last week. Conan O'Brien made his own parody video claiming "Friday" was a rip-off of his song "Thursday," and now Stephen Colbert is slated to perform the song this Friday on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."
Despite the enormous amount of negative feedback surroundng "Friday," Rebecca has undeniably received amazing exposure from the video. She performed her song on "The Tonight Show," was interviewed on "Good Morning America," peaked at number 19 on the iTunes charts, and is estimated to have made at least $20,000 from YouTube ad revenue and tens of thousands more from digital song sales.
Initially when "Friday" began to spike in views, Wilson actually asked Rebecca and her mother if they wanted him to take the video down, he tells the L.A. Times.
"But they said 'no,' even though we knew it might mean a lot of attention and a lot of criticism online," he reveals. "And in the end, there was criticism, but Rebecca has been great in handling it...And the truth is, if you look at the numbers...even though people say they hate the song...really, they love it."
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