The song "Friday" by 13-year-old Rebecca Black has become the most unlikely hit record in quite some time. Originally conceived as a vanity project financed by Ms. Black's parents, it's been viewed 50 million times on YouTube (Ed. note: Now it's up to 60 million. Won't you people ever stop?) and has been the subject of much derision by music critics and the public alike.
Last week, I received a call from an old friend in the music business in Los Angeles. My friend has, in addition to producing hit songs for a variety of artists, also served for many years as an analyst in the U.S. Department of State, specializing in communist studies.
He said that critics of the song had missed the point entirely. He said that instead of a cute, tween-pop ditty, "Friday" is the most cleverly produced and most blatantly pro-Marxist piece of music since The Clash released the rabble-rousing album Sandinista! 30 years ago.
While there's no way to prove my friend's theory, he believes the song was originally written back in the 1980s by the propaganda division of the Soviet Union's government. "This song is poisonous," he said. "It's basically The Communist Manifesto set to music."
An exposition of the song's lyrics seem to bolster this theory. Only by analyzing the song line by line, he said, is its true meaning revealed.
The song begins, Seven a.m., waking up in the morning/Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs. This line is an homage to the Clash's proletariat anthem "The Magnificent Seven," whose first line is about a worker arising at 7 a.m. to please his capitalist bosses.
The next lines: Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal. This refers to the grain shortages in pre-World War II Soviet Russia, in which nearly 5 million people starved due to a lack of wheat.
It continues: Seein' everything, the time is goin'/Tickin' on and on, everybody's rushin'. The last section refers to the impatience of the Bolsheviks after the 1917 Revolution and the provisional government's urgency in equating Russian nationalism with the Communist Party's aims. "Everybody's Russian," urged pro-Communist posters of the era.
The next lines are, Gotta get down to the bus stop/Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends. This references the lack of transportation infrastructure in the Khrushchev era and touts the benefits of communal life.
Then we hit the plaintive lines, Kickin' in the front seat/Sittin' in the back seat/Gotta make my mind up/Which seat can I take? This is a direct reference to the indecision facing the Soviet Union after it scrambled to reassemble its government following the death of dictator Joseph Stalin.
Should the Soviets try to lead a worldwide revolution of workers in forcing an end to capitalism, or take the "back seat" with a more indirect approach?
In this, Ms. Black echoes the questions that preoccupied Khrushchev, Malenkov and Beria in 1953, and, for that matter, Chinese leader Mao Zedong.
Even the song's chorus alludes to the desire of the proletariat to be freed from the shackles of capitalism and its joy at even a short respite from its cruel overlords: It's Friday, Friday/Gotta get down on Friday/Everybody's lookin' forward to the weekend, weekend.
When the teenaged Ms. Black sings, Partyin', partyin', yeah, she's referring to the historic 20th Congress of the Communist Party in 1956, which, after years of denial, began the process of de-Stalinizing Russia and ending the cult of personality surrounding him.
The song's bridge, possibly the most criticized section of the song, is in fact an expression of confusion and despair faced by Cold War Soviet leaders, albeit well-disguised.
Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday/Today it is Friday, Friday. This shows the importance of emphasizing the fruits of Soviet Communism relative to the era of the Tsar. But in anticipation of an uncertain future, the song reminds us that Tomorrow is Saturday/And Sunday comes afterwards.
The Soviet Union continually issued optimistic forecasts of better days to come once the Revolution had been fully realized.
There are so many other Russian references in the song — the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Gorbachev — that my music business friend is convinced there is no possibility of coincidence.
"What I can't figure out," he told me, "is why it's out now. It has all the hallmarks of a psyops (psychological operations) campaign from the KGB circa 1985. Was the song stolen from Soviet archives? Had there been a sleeper cell sitting on this song awaiting orders that only now came? I can't figure it out."
He surmises that hardline Russians loyal to Vladimir Putin issued the song in an effort to reassert the power of the Russian state and its possible return to totalitarianism.
"But that's just my best guess," he said. "This is the kind of thing that makes me want to build a bomb shelter. Who knows what the Russians have up their sleeves next? Justin Bieber singing coded messages from Castro? The mind boggles at the possibilities."
[A+E] Written + Spoken Word, Current Events