Rebecca Black wants to take over the world. But first, she has to set fire to her past.
Her reclamation comes by way of her debut album (and sans actual flames, unless you count the album cover art).
Out Feb. 9, Let Her Burn spans 10 tracks of confessional, dance-persuasive pop. Black goes dark on club-ready songs like “Destroy Me” and “Misery Loves Company,” which finds balance from the lightness of the sweet, but sultry “Doe Eyed” and the infectious heartbreaker “Sick to My Stomach.”
“To make this album happen, I had to do a lot of letting go. I had to do a lot of self discovery and fulfillment within myself, and a lot of the songs really talk about that directly,” Black tells Los Angeles Confidential over a Zoom chat at the end of January. “And so while Let Her Burn is about taking my past and my own preconceived notions of myself and those that others had of me and burning all that to the ground, it's also about taking who I am now and taking this moment and taking this energy and letting it burn, shine and let that live.”
Black’s journey to Let Her Burn has stretched for more than a decade. Her industry entry kicked off when viral YouTube video “Friday,” for better or worse, launched her into the stratosphere of internet stardom. It became the most disliked video on YouTube at the time. At just 13, the Orange County native was subject to the resulting vitriol.
Now based in Los Angeles, the 25-year-old has released a number of singles and EPs, including the 2021 project Rebecca Black Was Here. She also honored the 10-year anniversary of “Friday” with a hyperpop remix that features Dorian Electra, Big Freedia and 3Oh!3. During this time, she honed in on a distinguishable sound that toggles between soft pop and futuristic electronica.
“The process of creating [Rebecca Black Was Here] and putting it out and what's happened since has been so vital to finding my own sense of who I was and finding comfortability in leading and leading especially in a creative sense and feeling really comfortable with my ideas and those ideas being valuable and good,” she says. “Honestly, this process has been full of those aha moments of like, ‘Hey, not only do I want to find this, but I need to to make this album unique and my own voice.’”
As Black celebrates the release of her debut album, she’s making her way around the U.K. She kicked off her tour on Feb. 4 in Dublin and will finish the run on Feb.11 in Bristol, England. Her official album release show will go down in London on Feb. 10— her biggest show to date at the 1,625-capacity Heaven night club.
In May, she’ll take the Let Her Burn Tour across the U.S. with stops in Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago and Denver, among others. The big finale is reserved for Los Angeles on May 20 at the El Rey Theatre.
“I have loved performing, that aspect of what I do, ever since I was three years old. So this is always one of the most special parts to me— putting together a show and pushing myself in a way that I haven't done yet before,” Black says. She notes her plans for different, self-styled looks for each show.
“Anything that has to do with bringing the song to life is so important, but once you go to a show and hear it live, it is obviously the utmost alive version of the song that can ever exist. So I'm really excited to make the songs literally fully realized,” she adds.
Inviting fans to come see for themselves, Black is tight-lipped on the setlist. The lineup might change by the time she hits the U.S., but the setlist from her Manchester show reveals she pulls from across her entire discography. The Feb. 7 set included “Read My Mind” (her single with Slayyyter), “Sick to My Stomach” and a cover of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.” She even performed “Friday (Remix).”
“[‘Friday has] definitely over the last couple years, especially since releasing the remix, become a huge piece of this celebration of what the song morphed into,” she says. “I think it's a really unique experience my audience and I get to have when and if I do play that song.”
Like “Friday,” Black explains that her relationships with songs change over time. Already, her feelings about “Crumbs” have evolved. A single for Let Her Burn, Black loved “Crumbs” pre-release, but felt it was risky. Seeing it become a “fan-favorite” has been a welcome surprise.
“I rally for the songs that are a little bit bolder, a little bit weirder, a little bit more unique. I'm just so grateful to have an audience that is here for that,” she reflects.
Another one of her favorites is the album’s finale, “Performer,” in which Black says she gets to the core of how she feels about herself: “I'm in one of the most confident moments, I think, in my life thus far, but at the same time, I really struggle with feelings of comparison and feelings of like, ‘Who the f*** am I and what am I doing here as a 25 year old in 2023?’and really beginning to deep dive into my relationship with my family and how that affected me. I think that ‘Performer’ was the best closer because it actually felt like a new beginning.”
With Let Her Burn in the world, Black’s music is now for the taking. She wants people to know her project is just as worthy of recognition as any other pop artist and that she’s in this industry “to make meaningful, sick, undeniably good pop music.”
She adds, “I hope people f****** gag. As a music fan, I have albums that I go back to and that just emulate such a specific taste in my life. And that is something really special, and I just hope that this album can be that for somebody else.”
Black sees pop music as key to pushing pop culture given how intertwined music is with our lives and that it ultimately acts as a catalyst for how the world at large evolves. She points to Madonna and Lady Gaga as examples.
“I have dreams of taking over the world,” Black says. “[I’m] here to try to push it forward and push forward what it means to be a pop artist and what it means to be a pop star right now and who could do it and how they can do it.”
Photography by: Sarah Pardini