There is something remarkable about being a fan of someone. How it predispositions you towards being in favour of their every move - and how it brings out the extremes in some of us.
Fandom these days is all about marshalling the troops. We watch as a generation builds an army and names it and then does all it can and must in the name of the war for supremacy.
Conscription is as easy as a hashtag, a vine or a cutting remark all in the name of elevating or protecting status, position and perception.
In the world of pop, die hard fans (or stans as they are colloquially known) usually duke it out online for boy bands and divas. There is some special thuggery also reserved for male artists but it doesn't seem to capture the imagination in the way that the great Diva battles do.
It's a tale as old as time (thanks Celine) but the diva wars as we know them now started back in the nineties. By then women were regularly chalking up multi-million sellers and competition amongst artists spilled over to the fans, the biggest fans amongst them choosing their allegiances carefully.
Twitter and Instagram would be dead and buried were it not for the endless armies that now wage war on their heroine's behalves. While the strategies and tactics have changed since the nineties, the end goal is always the same: utter supremacy at the cost of all competition.
This year there have been some brilliant misfires in the social cultural wars. With the release of her Lemonade album, Beyonce's fans went on the war path on the implication that her husband had cheated on her. The first assumption had been that he'd cheated on her with fashion designer Rachel Roy so her minions - the Beyhive - launched a stinging attack. Some didn't read the memo correctly and incorrectly targeted a TV chef - Rachel Ray- online stoning her with virtual lemons and making increasingly shocking threats - until their sub commanders got wind of their mistake.
While some armies famously take on those of rival divas (often with the circumspect complicity of the stars themselves) many use social networks simply to mobilise fellow fans, and to help manipulate the measuring sticks of success.
It's no secret that the great leveller - the pop music chart- has increasingly struggled to make sense of a world in which we barely need to buy music anymore. We can watch it free on YouTube, stream it on Spotify or, download it through official and unofficial channels. Concert attendances remain steady but record sales have plummeted to all time lows suggesting that we still consume music on the same level we once did but just in increasingly harder to measure ways. But just as the race to No.1 defined the diva battles of the 90s, the accolade of a No.1 spot is still highly coveted. It's like conquering a foreign land and taking it as your own in the diva wars, and when it comes to the battle of metrics and numbers - no army fights harder than the Little Monsters.
Time after time, Lady Gaga's Monsters have proven the extremes to which dedication pushes Stans as well as a kind of ingenuity that manipulates an already convoluted process of measuring commercial success.
True to form, Gaga's soldiers won't stand for a drop on the commercial side of things- and typically won't stop at anything to help snare her a number one hit. Twitter has been abuzz with their excitement over the last few days - and reveals how fans are buying and then gifting up to 60 iTunes copies of the song in order to help her secure a debut in the pole position - especially in the USA.
This week is a busy, festive resumption on the battle lines for the Monsters. Gaga is back after a pop hiatus with her new single Perfect Illusion in a week which has also signalled the return of the likes of M.I.A and Nelly Furtado. Gaga is of course one of the most talented artists of her generation- a great voice and when the moment is right also a brilliant songwriter- but she was largely seen as having lost her way a bit by the time her third album dropped.
I guess it's more constructive than throwing lemons at innocent people, but a few days into the campaign it's increasingly looking like fans will be deprived of another #1 at this stage- Sia, someone who has written songs for pretty much all the current group of top tier divas - looks like she might just land herself a worthy #1 spot this week with The Greatest - her tribute to the Orlando Pulse victims.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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