Rebecca Black’s song “Friday” has turned the 13-year-old into an overnight celebrity, spurred a rash of negative comments and now been viewed nearly 67 million times on YouTube.
It’s been widely reported that the aspiring singer’s mom paid $2,000 to L.A.-based Ark Music Factory to record the song. But who exactly is the actual person behind the the company — and the tune itself?
That would be Patrice Wilson, a previously unknown musician-producer who came to Los Angeles from Walla Walla, Wash., four years ago to launch to the company.
“It was based on the idea of Noah’s ark,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “In other words, a place to gather people together, where they could be safe.”
As for the song, Wilson admits that it isn’t the most brilliant tune ever penned.
“I remember writing ‘Friday,'” Wilson says. “It was on a Thursday night, but I finished it on Friday morning. And I knew it was silly, you know? ‘Tomorrow is Saturday, and Sunday comes afterwards.’ I mean, everybody knows that, obviously, but I wanted the song to be simple and kind of sweet. People talk so much about how silly or stupid the lyrics are, but pop songs, they’re meant to be catchy and to tell things in a simple kind of way. I feel bad that Rebecca has been getting so many people criticizing the song because it was me that wrote it.” [Watch the video below.]
Wilson was raised in Africa by a father who worked as a chemical engineer and a mother who was a minister. He attended medical school in Europe and trained in track and field for the 2000 Olympics but switched gears to pursue a career in music. He toured as a backup singer with Eastern European pop star Ibrahim Maiga and then moved to Walla Walla to study the business side of entertainment at Whitman College.
The Times describes Wilson as “soft-spoken and sincere, with a sad-eyed baby face and a neatly pressed suit and tie. He seems slightly dazed by the chaos and not at all the cutthroat music biz stereotype. On the contrary, he presents himself as a well-mannered, well-traveled and well-educated man — utterly confounded by the wave of hate that his nursery-rhyme-simple, but very catchy, song has recently elicited.”
And what exactly do the fees paid to Ark cover? According to the Times, aspiring singers pay $2,000-$4,000 to get in return a song to record, time with a producer-engineer, a photo shoot, image consulting, a music video and promotion. The master recording rights go to the singer, while Ark retains publishing rights.
Wilson insists that he’s not out to exploit kids and their families, as some critics have suggested.
“I want to give these kids who love to sing and perform a chance to work in a studio, a chance to be in front of a camera and in front of an audience. I’m not in this to make millions. I just want to help these kids make their dreams come true on some level. And I’m not trying to exploit anyone.”
As for all the criticism Black has received, Wilson said she’s handled it “great” and insists that “if you look at the numbers … even though people say they hate the song … really, they love it.”