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Social Media Mash-Up

Kevin Noonan | Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When comedian Daniel Tosh introduced the world to singing “sensation” Rebecca Black, there were a few immediate, inevitable consequences. First, thanks to Tosh’s reputation and the sheer atrocity of the song, Black became instantly infamous. Second, many people were forced to eat their words concerning Justin Bieber. He may be annoying, but Rebecca Black makes many people long for the days when “Baby” was the worst thing they’d ever heard.

And third, with such fame achieved through such an obvious lack of any real talent, Black was destined to produce imitators. It may seem quizzical that anyone would want the kind of “fame” Black has received, but becoming a YouTube sensation, no matter how painful it is to watch or listen to you, is a goldmine.

A 2010 socialtimes.com article estimated that YouTube user Smosh, whose videos had similar view-counts to Black’s “Friday,” earned about $113,000 a year. That means that if Black partners with YouTube and accrues advertising income, she could conceivably be making six figures for her inability to make music.

It is this logic that brings the world perhaps the first attempt to ride the wave of Black’s “success.” Rebecca Shearing, a British singer is being called the next Rebecca Black. A YouTube sensation in her own right, Shearing has been posting videos of her covers of popular songs since 2007. However, she is hoping to crack through to the next level, and recently posted her debut single, “Closer To Me” on her YouTube page.

The comparisons between Shearing and Black are obvious. Besides sharing a first name, the two are close in age — Black is 18 and Shearing is 19 — and both are seeking fame through YouTube and social media. On the surface, it is not hard to figure out why Shearing’s publicist is painting her as the British version of Rebecca Black.

A simple analysis of Shearing’s song, however, tells a different tale. It isn’t bad. It isn’t especially good, but it isn’t near the level of terrible that vaulted Black to fame. It’s clear that Shearing can actually sing, and that a producer with at least some talent helped her out. The lyrics, while not in the vein of Bob Dylan, are nowhere near the hilarity of “Friday.” It simply isn’t atrocious enough to be famous.

The real story is played out in the world of social media. Without ever hearing either song, it is possible to tell quite a bit about each artist simply from seeing what the Internet is saying about them.