Between Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, our generation spends a lot of quasi-anonymous face time with one another. This explosion of communication often emphasizes, lines between social acceptance and isolation. On the flip side, our forays into interpersonal contact can establish true connections with our peers and even attain minor star status. One such success story is that of Mary Bonney, a sophomore at the College whose contest-winning YouTube video was her ticket to, internet notoriety.
p. Bonney saw her chance earlier this year in a blog post by the pop-punk rock band Paramore (Atlantic Records). Their infectious, catchy songs and strong female vocalist struck a chord with Bonney, herself the lead singer of rock bank Beyond the Static.
p. “We’ve been compared to Paramore,” Bonney said, “and I’d liked them for years before they announced a contest to find a backup singer for one of their new album tracks.” Within a day of the announcement, over 100 entries were posted on YouTube — videos that mostly showed entrants singing Paramore songs with acoustic accompaniment. “I almost didn’t enter,” Bonney admitted. “It was intimidating. But it wasn’t all about vocal talent; the contest also called for personality and creativity. I figured the band must have been so sick of videos at that point, so I decided to do something different.”
p. 47,000 hits later, Bonney’s video has made its way through the YouTube community. Singing Paramore and bouncing through the halls of her boyfriend’s house in Washington, D.C., Bonney engages the help of family members and friends as she radiates energy and cheerful lyrics.
p. The day the contest closed, Bonney relieved her anxiety by taking a stroll through the Sunken Garden. “My cell phone rang, and the number was restricted,” she recounted. “It was the president of Atlantic Records calling, and I just sat there in shock.”
p. The trappings of celebrity descended swiftly on the singer, who took the train business-class to New Jersey on the day of the recording. At the station, a Lincoln Towncar picked up Bonney and her 16-year-old sister and drove them to the hotel where they spent the night.
p. The next day, Bonney spent six hours in the studio with Paramore and two contest runner-ups. “For the first couple of hours they were still mixing the song [titled “Born for This”], so the bassist and the drummer made burgers on a massive grill outside. It was just like we were friends hanging out. One of the coolest things is that the members of Paramore know my name. They would recognize me if I came up and told them how much I admire them. I’m not just fan number 3000 anymore. This really has been one of the coolest experiences of my life.”
p. Now that the contest and recording sessions are over, the fever pitch of newfound celebrity may have calmed in Bonney’s life, but the experience is far from over. Aside from recognition by the band and its fans, the singer can expect her name — not to mention her voice — to be released this June on Paramore’s second album, “RIOT!” Bonney is an example of the courage and talent ripe in the student body at the College, and as her story shows, appropriate recognition may very well be one gutsty, crafty YouTube video away.