Rebecca Black, who aged just 13 created worldwide viral song “Friday”, has told BBC Radio 5 Live that it took her five years to recover after receiving thousands of cruel comments from online trolls.
“Friday” was dubbed the world’s worst song after it was released on YouTube in 2011.
Now 20, Rebecca Black told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Anna Foster that she and her family had no idea about the process of making a music video, and that they had no approval over what was released.
“I didn’t get a private viewing before it went live … I saw it the minute it went on You Tube like everyone else,” says Rebecca. “We thought .. it’s not like this is going to go anywhere .. it’s not like I thought the whole world was going to see it and pick it apart!”
Rebecca’s performance quickly went viral, racking up millions of views around the world. It was dubbed ‘the worst song in the world’, and she received hundreds of thousands of abusive comments online – including a death threat which police investigated.
She said: “I saw everything…. when you start reading comments that are negative, I just couldn’t stop – I just kept going and going and going.”
Rebecca added: “I’ve never left a hate comment on anything so I don’t really see the logic of saying that to someone. But there is something about that experience – it’s like no one sees whatever is happening in that video as a real thing or a real life or a real person. They don’t think a real person has to read this and move on with their day after that… I don’t think there is anything I haven’t heard.”
The abuse she received had a huge impact on her confidence and it has taken her a long time to recover.
“I felt like I had the biggest ‘kick me’ me sign on my back … and everyone was just lining up before anyone had even said anything or looked at me,“ she says. ” It became something that defined my life and would be my life forever.
“For three or four years after that, those comments stuck with me…. I had seen them and repressed them and it felt like nothing bothered me, but in reality this pile was building underneath the thickest rug in the living room of my body. On the outside i was fine.
“Then I wanted to learn how to write songs and do it properly. I realised I couldn’t. I realised all those comments … had stuck there for the entire time and they were just waiting for me to deal with them.”
Rebecca says writing new music has helped her recover.
“It was like being able to put your head above water … it was where I could talk about something that wasn’t Friday – it was about me as a person like any other artist.”
She now wants to use her experience to help other suffering online abuse.
“I have a sense of empathy for other people who are going through same type of experience. I mean, to anyone who in any profession in any home who has felt just utterly rejected and felt something had happened that would define them forever … it doesn’t have to be that way forever.
“You can make anything happen once you get back to a little sliver of strength … Day by day you can have a moment of relief. You could be the girl that the internet deems has the worst song ever, and years later still say I love music, and this is something I am proud to release.”
Rebecca released her new single Satellite this week (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVPdFHy-L7Q)
She says that when she heard it for the first time, “I was 100,000 per cent proud to put my name on it and feel like is absolutely me .. because I had felt for so many years robbed of that.”
Rebecca advises others struggling in an unwelcome spotlight to be honest with themselves and those around them. “There’s this concept that you just have to stay strong through everything and that will be the answer, but .. for me that didn’t work and there were moments when I felt so weak and I just wanted to admit it but I just had to breathe it all in, suck it up and I’ll be good. And doing that while everyone is just constantly ripping away at every piece of you, you are left with bones, you’re left with nothing.
“To have this [new] song – it was like, ‘There she is, there’s the girl. The reason I did Friday in the first place.’ This was my moment – I felt like me again after so long.”
HEAR FULL INTERVIEW ON BBC 5 LIVE TODAY 12.30PM AND IN THE EYE OF THE STORM PODCAST: