For most first years, college presents an opportunity for a fresh start among strangers. Most first years do not start college with millions of hits on YouTube.
Nicole Tan, or “uuuuuuuukewithme” on YouTube, has gained 5,280,969 views for her acoustic cover of the song “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj.
Tan is a prime example of talent converging with social media. She said watching YouTube videos sparked her interest in performing covers.
“I watched YouTube videos of other people, but I never thought that I would post something,” said Tan.
That changed, she said, when she began looking to permanently save her videos.
“I’ve always been posting videos to Facebook on my friend’s wall. Then I realized that Facebook deletes your video after a while. So I wanted to keep them.”
A friend suggested she use YouTube as a storage space, and Tan began posting covers, thinking no one would see them. She also started singing in a group with seven of her friends and learning the guitar and ukulele.
After two months she got the idea for “Super Bass.” She posted the video last March and kept it private for a week. After encouragement from her friends she made the video public, but said she was nervous about how it would be received.
That same day, a well-known Tumblr blogger found Tan’s cover and posted it. In 24 hours Tan’s inbox was blowing up and she became an overnight Internet sensation.
Tan describes the experience as “surreal” and “really scary,” and said she was often approached by strangers on the subway in her home city of New York.
In the past six months, things have slowed down for Tan, a chan ge she said she appreciates. She enjoys increased privacy at Bowdoin, but she said she is still recognized occasionally.
“I don’t want them to label me as ‘that girl’,” says Tan. “I want them to get to know me first.”
Despite occasionally feeling embarrassed, Tan says she feels fortunate to have had the experience.
“I feel like ‘lucky’ is a good word,” says Tan, who said fame was not something she intentionally pursued, adding that she often feels “overrated.”
Tan plans to pursue her musical interests at the College. She’s already joined the a cappella group Ursus Verses as a soprano, plays percussion in the Bowdoin College Concert Band and accompanied cover band “Suck My NESCAC” at their Epicuria performance last weekend.
“I have stage fright, but that was really fun. They were really supportive,” Tan said.
Nonetheless, her personal YouTube account may remain inactive for a while.