Much like with modern art, there is an easy thing to say about anyone who has gotten famous via the internet. "I could have done that!" And just as with modern art, there is just as quick of a rejoinder, "But you didn't!".
So far, the two songs by amateurs that have gained the most fame via the internet are The Bed Intruder Song, which is very hard to explain as a pop hit, and "Friday", which seems engineered to be a pop hit so much that it shouldn't be. While The Bed Intruder Song gained fame due to a mixture of its unlikely novelty and Antoine Dodson's flamboyant personality, "Friday", by Rebecca Black gained its fame seemingly through the annoyance and hatred that it engendered. I suspect, for several reasons, that nothing could have gained so much attention through being simply terrible.
Let me first deal with the question of whether the song is terrible. I must admit that it is bad in places. The music is fairly generic electronic pop, Black's voice is a bit screechy, and the lyrics do tend towards the mundane. The best defense I can make about whether the song is truly terrible is a good offense: If I were to listen to any given pop or rock station on the radio for an hour, I could pick up a song that is probably more annoying than "Friday". Paul McCartney and Prince, for all their failings, are both geniuses who revolutionized music and got rich doing so. Rebecca Black was a 13 year old girl making a vanity recording. Yet McCartney and Prince have arguably made music that makes "Friday" seem like a classic of elegant delivery and lyrical depth. So while the song has its flaws, it is not at all terrible for a vanity project released over the internet.
But is the song actually good? This might be a stronger claim, but I think that it is good. I think the song has attracted attention because it resonated with people, and the anger against it was people reacting against their own sentimentality in appreciating such a song. The song is about excitement and release from stress. And in its own juvenile way, I think it captures those emotions well. Young adolescence is a time when the smallest changes and experiences can transform your life, whether it is a few sentences with someone you are interested in, a chance to be with friends, or just the arrival of the weekend. Time runs different at a young age, and a week can be an entire epoch of our lives. And I think that Black manages to capture, in a simple way, how exciting life can be.
Which brings us to the hatred against the song. After a decade of irony and involution being the rules of acceptability in music, where scores of talented musicians have failed to author that rare gem, an anthem, how many people are going to admit that a junior high student with money to pay for a slickly produced pop hit has been unable to do what, say, Yo La Tengo has never been able to do: provide a song that immediately captured people's attention, and probably their emotions? The truth hurts. Not wanting to admit their big sentimental goopy emotions, people listen to Rebecca Black because they need a dose of heartfelt, simple cheer, and then pretend that they hate the song.
Which is not to say that Rebecca Black is a genius or the next big pop star, or that the song is great. But for all the attention that the song is garnered, I think it is somewhat unlikely that it is merely because people think it is terrible. Friday is a pop song that, despite its flaws, has managed to communicate something that people wanted to hear.