How Pop Music Fandom Became Sports, Politics, Religion and All-Out War


In October, after “Chromatica” registered as a humble hit, Grande’s new album “Positions” was released online before its official release. Cordero, who liked Grande well enough but found her new music was missing, shared a link to the unreleased songs, much to the dismay of Grande fans, who feared the fake versions would hurt the singer’s commercial prospects.

Grande fans took on the role of volunteer internet detectives and spent days playing Whac-a-Mole, tagging links to the unauthorized album as they proliferated on the internet. But Cordero, bored and sensing her agita, decided to bait her even further by falsely tweeting that he had later been fined $ 150,000 by Grande’s label for spreading the leak. “Is there any way I can get out of here,” he wrote. “I’m so afraid.” He even shared a picture of himself crying.

“They were happy,” said Cordero, dizzy, of the Grande fans he had deceived and who spread far and wide that the leaker – no less a Gaga lover – was being punished. “I’m sorry, but I have no compassion,” wrote a Grande supporter on Reddit. “Invite him, take him to jail. You can’t release an album by the world’s greatest pop star and expect no consequences. “

This was the pop fandom of 2020: competitive, arcane, sales-obsessed, sometimes pointless, messy, controversial, amusing, and a little bit scary – all almost entirely online. While music has long been intertwined with internet communities and the rise of social networks, a growing group of the loudest and most dedicated pop enthusiasts have adopted the term “Stan” – taken from the 20-year-old Eminem song about a superfan turned into a killer became a stalker – redefining what it means to love an artist.

On Stan’s Twitter – and its branches on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Tumblr, and various message boards – these followers compare # 1 and streaming stats like sports fans getting averages, championship wins, and shooting percentages. They undertake to remain loyal to their favorites such as the most rabid political partisans or religious supporters. They organize to win awards shows, increase sales, and raise money like grassroots activists. And they band together to molest – or molest and even dox – those who might dare to belittle the stars with which they have aligned.