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  • Tue, 8, Sep, 2020 - 5:00:AM

On the pure joy of being a Stan

Best of VMA Acceptance Speeches ft. Lady Gaga, BTS, Doja Cat & More | 2020 MTV VMAs | YouTube

When Lady Gaga’s sixth studio album (Chromatica, but known for years as LG6) was released, I could hardly contain myself. The album was released at midnight by region, meaning New Zealand was the first country in the world to receive it. Of course, by then, plenty of people were passing around leaks but I, being a loyal Little Monster, waited patiently for the real thing.

Naturally, when I heard it I cried. Given that it had been seven years since Mother Monster’s last full-throated pop album, the return to form was exhilarating (and I say this as someone who enjoyed all the jazz-country-soundtrack projects in between).

On May 29, we had just recently come out of Lockdown 1.0. The virus was ramping up in the States, along with 100 other ongoing issues, and we were starting to reckon with the fact that 2020 was turning out to be a Very Bad Year. Frankly, a cinematic collection of dancehall anthems was exactly what 2020 needed, or at least what I did. It fed me, it nourished me, it cleared my skin.

But Little Monsters are not the only Stans being fed this year (fed being internet parlance for receiving the goods).

Swifties, perhaps the most blessed Stans of 2020, received a record-breaking, re-defining, perception-smashing surprise album in folklore, less than a year after 2019’s Lover. Megan Thee Stallion’s Stans, brilliantly stylised as Hotties, and Cardi B’s Bardi Gang received the wallop of the century in W.A.P. KatyCats experienced the birth of an album and a baby in the same damn week. And Blinks (Blackpink Stans, of which I understand there are many) saw collaborations with not one but two industry titans. 

Stanhood, despite the recently invented vernacular, is a very old concept. It goes back at least as far as the heydays of one handsome Sinatra, two cute Cassidies, four gorgeous Beatles. Overwhelmingly, it’s a phenomenon run by girls and gays.

The tendency to scream and holler and faint and throw panties has cast a very unserious light on Stanhood (or is it Standom?) but I think the real work of a Stan is much quieter, much more hidden. A Stan is someone who listens to a work repeatedly, in solitude, and mines it for meaning. A Stan is a person who takes a work deemed frivolous by the general pop and makes it holy. Deems it sacred. A Stan is a person who experiences unmitigated, if fleeting, joy.

In a world that doesn’t automatically take feminine interests seriously (but requires an opinion on the director’s cut of the latest superhero flick, or expects you to have listened to the latest Bob Dylan-cum-Kanye West) taking pop music (or women-led rap) just as seriously, is an act of defiance.

Enjoying a work of popular art to the point of excess is one of the few out-and-out delights we can experience right now. The world is in a state of flux almost unmatched in modern history. America is hosting one of the least inspiring presidential elections in years. New Zealand’s election, though not so depressing, is continually up in the air. A deadly virus haunts our borders, and, of course, the terrifying prospect of Climate Change looms over everything. But every morning, I wake up and check if Gaga has put out anything new.

It doesn’t stop me worrying about everything else, certainly not. But it’s a gentle, if brief, reprieve.


  • Lady Gaga /
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  • Fandom /
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