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How the pop music fandom became sports, politics, religion and all-out war

In October, with “Chromatica” recorded as a modest success, Grande’s new album, “Positions,” was leaked online ahead of its official release. Cordero, who liked Grande quite well but found his new music to be lacking, shared a link to the unreleased songs, much to the dismay of Grande’s fans, who feared that the counterfeit versions would hurt the singer’s business prospects.

Taking on the role of volunteer internet sleuths, Grande’s fans spent days playing Whac-a-Mole reporting unauthorized album links as they proliferated across the internet. But Cordero, annoyed and sensing them flustered, decided to bait them even more by tweeting – incorrectly – that he was subsequently fined $ 150,000 by Grande’s label for his role in spreading the escape. “Is there any way I can get out of this,” he wrote. “I’m so afraid.” He even shared a photo of himself crying.

“They were rejoicing,” Cordero recalls in awe of the Grande fans he had duped, who spread the message widely that the fleeing – a Gaga lover, no less – was being punished. “Sorry but I don’t feel any sympathy,” a Grande supporter wrote on Reddit. “Accuse him, put him in jail. you can’t divulge an album from the world’s greatest pop star and expect no consequences.

It was a pop fandom in 2020: competitive, mysterious, sales-obsessed, sometimes pointless, chaotic, contradictory, fun, and a little scary – all taking place almost entirely online. While music has long been linked to internet communities and the rise of social media, a growing faction of the most vocal and dedicated pop enthusiasts have adopted the term “stan” – taken from Eminem’s song. , aged 20, on a superfan turned homicide. stalker – and redefine what it means to love an artist.

On what’s known as Stan’s Twitter – and its offshoots on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Tumblr, and various message boards – these enthusiasts compare No.1s and streaming stats as sports fans batting averages, wins. championship and shooting percentages. They swear allegiance to their favorites like the most rabid political or religious supporters. They organize to win polls, drive sales and fundraise like grassroots activists. And they band together to harass – or harass, and even dox – those who dare to despise the stars they have chosen to align themselves with.

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