In the two weeks since since it began its viral rise to Internet infamy, Rebecca Black’s “Friday” music video has amassed a staggering 42 million views on YouTube and shows no sign of slowing down.
That’s an absurdly high number of hits for any singer, but it’s jaw-dropping when you consider that Black is an unsigned 13-year-old from Orange County who only made the video for fun with her friends (and a little help from a vanity production company).
With her song in the iTunes Top 40 and a guest spot on The Tonight Show under her belt, we caught up with Rebecca (after she got finished school for the day, naturally) and talked to her about what she’s doing with all this money, how her dad scares off gawkers in public, and how she felt to hear Lady Gaga call her a “genius.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: On Leno you said that you are donating most of your YouTube and iTunes proceeds to earthquake and tsunami disasters in Japan. That’s really cool. What made you decide to do that? I don’t think anyone would hold it against a 13-year-old for keeping the money from her first hit record.
REBECCA BLACK: I felt really bad about [the disaster in Japan]. I’ve always wanted to do something about all natural disasters, and I realized now is my big opportunity where I can really help.
Speaking of money, what kind of a percentage split do you have with Ark Music [the company that wrote song and produced the video]?
I own the song. I have full rights to the song, so they really don’t get anything. I’m pretty sure it’s a 100 to 0 situation. The only thing we paid for was to buy full rights.
That’s amazing. Good move. Do you have a lot of kids your age recognizing you in public?
Yeah. It’s weird. To me I’m just a regular person going to the mall with friends, and now I’m in Forever 21 and I see this random group of girls staring at me and taking pictures. But now I usually have my dad, who is a really tall and intimidating person with me, so he’s kind of my bodyguard. They stay away from me when I’m with him. But I have had people come up and ask for pictures, stuff like that.
Are they polite?
Did you hear what Lady Gaga said about you?
When your video was explained to her along with all the Internet fame and occasional haters, she said, “I say Rebecca Black is a genius and anyone telling her she’s cheesy is full of it.”
That’s so cool! I feel so star-struck, even though I haven’t met her. It’s so surreal, it’s so crazy. I was just listening to “Born this Way.” I really love all of her songs, I have almost every song of hers on my iPod and I think she’s really a lyrical genius. Her songs are just so upbeat and fun and catchy.
When you’re singing about partying in “Friday,” I assume you mean something different than what partying means to, say, Ke$ha. So what does partying entail for you as a 13-year-old?
Just really being with friends and having fun. Dancing — that’s really what I do at parties. I dance and I hang out with friends. That’s my partying.
Where can you usually be found on a Friday night?
At a friend’s house or… yeah. At a friend’s house or at the mall. That’s about it.
Gaga aside, who are your other favorite singers or bands?
Well, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Rihanna — those are my favorites, definitely. Justin Bieber I find an inspiration overall: I love his music, he’s adorable and I love that he’s so young and so big. And Rihanna, how she came out of the Chris Brown thing so strong, that is amazing to me.
In five years, which celebrity would you ideally want to be like?
I would love to be like Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez. They were catapulted into stardom when they were so young—like I was—and they still haven’t gone down the wrong path and I hope neither or them will. I find that really inspiring.
And now they’re dating.
So you are recording new material now. Is that with Ark Music?
No. We’re being pretty open, we’re getting a bunch of song lyrics and ideas from a bunch of different writers, but this isn’t with Ark. We’re really just taking things minute by minute.
Any songwriters we might recognize?
That’s not a question you should ask me—my parents just throw song ideas at me, and I’ve been listening to a billion different songs.
What type of songs can we expect?
Dance anthem-like stuff, very teen-like pop songs, stuff like that.
Your video is one of those that people watch over and over. Are there any YouTube clips you watch repeatedly?
I don’t really use YouTube that much. I am a very Internet-oriented person, but I’m more of a Twitter freak—I’m always on Twitter. Or chatting with friends.
Read more on EW.com:
Lady Gaga reveals she’s directing her next video, talks Rebecca Black at Google Q&A
Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday': The Internet’s latest obsession
Rebecca Black on Leno: Watch her perform here
Rebecca Black on ‘GMA’