K-pop has firmly established itself in mainstream culture as hyper-managed boy bands and girl groups have broken through language barriers to become global idols. What does the international popularity of Blackpink reveal of modern fandom? And how exactly are stans reshaping pop music?
With songs about birthday parties and body dysmorphia, Babymetal isn’t your average metal group. Fronted by former J-pop singers in gothic schoolgirl outfits, the band’s blend of intense riffs and saccharine lyrics flies in the face of genre stereotypes and challenges cultural expectations.
Unpredictable, undefinable, and always provocative, Tyler, the Creator has kept his audiences guessing and growing thanks to his emotionally open, genre-fluid, and highly visual approach. How has he survived past controversies and helped create a new agenda for masculinity in hip-hop culture?
Denver-born star Billie Eilish has been serving up rich, textured songs from her bedroom since she was 15. Sampling a wide range of popular culture, referencing her acne scars, and singing acoustic ballads about killing her friends, Eilish is the YouTube-sprung Gen Z icon challenging the mainstream.
In an era of super-fandom, the question is not whether to stan or not to stan, but whom to stan, and for how long. The intensity of fan devotion in the digital age is creating new opportunities for brands to activate hyper engaged communities – just don’t get on their bad side.