A Chinese-American girl is the latest tween to collaborate with the viral hitmaker of several songs that have achieved notority on the internet.
After being introduced as a "China girl," 10-year-old Grace Liu sings about a flying automobile in "Get In My Car," a sugary pop song with Putonghua and English lyrics.
In the video, she references Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, flaunts underage driving laws and dances on the Great Wall of China in an ethnic minority costume.
According to her Youku channel, Liu was born in Las Vegas and grew up in Los Angeles. In summer 2013, she become the youngest student of CeCe Sammy, an English vocal coach known for her appearances on The Voice UK and The X Factor.
"Get In My Car" is the latest work of Ark Music Factory, a Los Angeles company that specialises in filming and promoting music videos which display young musical talent.
Despite these seemingly lofty ambitions, the company has come under fire from many internet bloggers for "exploiting the dreams of pre-teen girls" and intentionally producing works with low production values, modified vocals and blatantly saccharine visuals.
Video: Grace Liu - Get In My Car
Ark Music Factory founder Patrice Wilson appears in every video the company produces. In "Get In My Car," Wilson attempts to rap in Putonghua alongside Chinese-American performer Thomas Chou.
Several Youtube commenters blasted the song after it appeared online on March 11, and many accused Wilson of racism and exploitation while others criticised Liu’s Chinese.
“Why do you keep exploiting kids with rich parents? Especially going as far as to sexualise an 11-year-old girl,” one wrote.
Others were more forgiving, including a user named Michael Chang.
"How is this any different from K-pop or any other Asian pop song?” Chang asked.
In an exclusive interview with Mosh News, a British entertainment website, Wilson lashed back at critics.
“I filmed Grace's video in early January and her parents actually approached me," Wilson said. "They wanted something that could be meaningful in China, US and worldwide. I wasn’t skeptical or scared to release the 'Get In My Car' video, because I’ve grown some thick skin towards all the critics out there. I’ve also come to realise over the years that people secretly love my videos.”
This is not the first time that Ark Music Factory has created a China-themed video. In 2013, the company produced "I Love Chinese Food," a song featuring 12-year-old Alison Gold. The song, an ode to Americanised Chinese cuisine, included choice lyrics like "I love fried rice, I love noodles, I love chow mien, chow mo-mo-mo-mo-mien!”
"Friday," a 2011 song featuring singer Rebecca Black, was Ark Music Factory's first viral hit. Despite garnering over one million dislikes on Youtube, the song eventually reached No. 34 on the Billboard Hot 100.