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The Obscure Origins of Every Great Pop Fandom Nickname

Rihanna has her Navy; BTS has their A.R.M.Y. — but believe it or not, my favorite stan nickname belongs to Ed Sheeran

When some know-nothing troll unleashes a deeply offensive shitpost about Gen Z god Lorde, the only artist for whom I’m truly ride-or-die, I seek the comfort of my fellow stans. The Lorde fandom is an impassioned, emotional and intelligent group — I’m 100 percent biased, which is the point — but there’s one problem: We don’t have a collective nickname. Lorde once said she finds pun-centric nicknames “grating,” so her wish for a no-name fandom is our command.

But these are dark times (dare I say, even melodramatic). Pop-starlet stan clans have turned into brutal, warring factions. It all makes me wish we had a name to unite us — like our peers do.

Most artists making new music today have a name for their group — whether they wanted one or not. There’s Beyoncé’s BeyHive, Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters and Mariah Carey’s Lambs. Some are more unimaginative: Swifties, Bardigang, Selenators and Camilizers suffer from the burden of “name + suffix” cliche. Break up with your name, Arianators. I’m bored.

So, to honor the craft of stanning, I’d like to shine a light on the sometimes obscure origins of these peculiar fandom names. Paws up, Little Monsters. It’s your time.


Beyoncé: BeyHive

According to writer Alyssa Bereznak at The Ringer, the terms for Beyoncé fans first proliferated in 2012 when the now-defunct fan website launched. An anonymous web designer and early member of the BeyHive helped Beyoncé redesign her website, including a new section devoted to her fans. The designer first suggested calling it BeyEntourage. Beyoncé passed, so he proposed BeyHive. “She was like, ‘That’s hilarious, let’s use that,’” he told The Ringer.

Since those early days, the BeyHive has buzzed endlessly. I’ll refrain from adding my own thoughts on the name because the BeyHive is prone to attack and I don’t want to get stung. Just ask Golden State Warriors courtside sitter Nicole Curran.

Miley Cyrus: Smilers

I remember the day Hannah Montana aired in 2006. I watched it on our tiny kitchen TV, so old it even had a VCR. That is to say, I know the story behind “Smilers” by heart.

Miley Cyrus was born Destiny Hope Cyrus. Her father, Billy Ray, used to call her “Smiley” because she always beamed ear to ear growing up. Smiley was then shortened to the Miley we know today. Smilers, then, is a nod to their queen, for whom they’re always smiling.

Megan Thee Stallion: Hotties

Houston’s Hot Girl loves her Hotties, and the hotties love their Hot Girl. Megan Thee Stallion has associated with the term Hot since the jump. First came her 2017 EP Make It Hot; then the 2018 single “Hot Girl.” Now we have the Hotties and the ubiquitous phrase Hot Girl Summer, which turned into a song featuring Nicki Minaj. Thee Stallion is a branding savant.

To be a Hottie is to be a bad bitch regardless of gender, resident Bay Area Hottie Leila tells MEL. “A hottie is someone who loves herself and doesn’t give a fuck what anyone has to say about her! A hottie loves Megan and lives her life the way she wants to!”

Lady Gaga: Little Monsters

When Gaga isn’t lusting for Bradley Cooper as Ally or smoking onstage at the MTV VMAs as Jo Calderone, she might be performing as Mother Monster. Gaga’s stans are called Little Monsters, a reference to her second album, 2009’s The Fame Monster. Whenever Mother Monster calls, Little Monsters like the incomparable Staten Harry put their paws up for their Rah Rah Bitch.

Ed Sheeran: Sheerios

My favorite stan name goes to a man. (No one is more shocked — and saddened — than me.) While I’m ambivalent about Sheeran as an artist, “Sheerios” is so cute! It’s a play on the British greeting “Cheerio,” as Sheeran hails from the U.K. But I choose to believe it’s actually a reference to my favorite cereal. Who doesn’t stan whole-grain oats? Either way, Sheeran has given his Sheerios a stamp of approval.

Mariah Carey: Lambs

One of the OG fandoms is Mariah Carey’s Lambily. As writer and long-time Lamb Rich Juzwiak writes for the New York Times, the name is a term of endearment for her fans that Carey first used liberally in the 2000s. It’s stuck ever since. The Lambily, unlike their BeyHive or Nicki Minaj’s Barbz, is soft and sweet.

Lana Del Rey: Gangsters (maybe?)

Although Lana Del Rey is getting the best reviews of her career for her new album, Norman Fucking Rockwell!, her collective and outspoken fanbase hasn’t agreed on a name. On Reddit, some call for Gangsters, a reference to her repeatedly being called gangster Nancy Sinatra.But the use is minimal.

Blackpink: Blinks

The first female K-pop group to perform at Coachella is taking over the United States, and no K-pop fanbase (save for BTS) has as vocal an online fandom. “Blink” is a portmanteau of black and pink.


Speaking of BTS, their fanbase name is ARMY — often stylized as A.R.M.Y. According to Urban Dictionary, the name stands for Adorable Representative M.C for Youth. BTS itself is an acronym of the Korean expression Bangtan Sonyeondan, which means Bulletproof Boy Scouts. So if the BTS boys are the bulletproof Boy Scouts, then the A.R.M.Y. is there to protect them. Get it?

Kesha: Animals

This one is simple. Kesha fans are named after the title track of her debut album Animal. Though be wary. Animals attack — even their own mother.

Katy Perry: Katy Cats

Katy Perry named her cat Kitty Purry. She has a fragrance called Meow, which is bottled in the shape of a cat. So it’s only fitting that her fans jumped on the cat train and called themselves Katy Cats.

Nicki Minaj: Barbz

The Barbz are infamously petty. Do not cross them. Also, did you know Lil Nas X was an OG barb known as @NasMaraj?

Barbz (male stans are known as Kens) are a reference to the doll Barbie. Minaj has long associated herself with the Mattel company’s iconic character. The rollout and album cover for her debut mixtape Playtime Is Over in 2007 was Barbie-themed. Most recently, she’s released the songs “Barbie Dreams” and “Barbie Tingz.”

Honestly, I’m afraid of the Barbz. They’re known to swarm around anyone from rapper Quavo to a high school principal. As Wendy Williams says, never date a Barb.

Rihanna: Navy

While the Barbz might be the most brutal, the Rihanna Navy is certainly the most omnipresent. Navy gets its name from a lyric on Rihanna’s Rated R-era song “G4L”: “We’re an army/ Better yet, a navy/ Better yet, crazy, guns in the air.” The name was solidified after she appeared in the 2012 film Battleship.

“I personally really like it,” longtime Navy cadet Alexander Summerfield tells MEL of the name. “It fits with Rihanna’s strong and empowering persona.”

Carly Rae Jepsen: Jepsies

Back in 2012, indie pop darling Carly Rae Jepsen voiced her approval of the “Jepsies” nickname. Unfortunately, it’s another banal “name + suffix” situation. This might be why the nickname doesn’t seem to be in use as much lately — although that could also be because any Jepsen fan could simply be called someone with taste.

Jennifer Lopez: JLovers

In 2014, writer Kevin O’Keeffe made a strong case that JLovers is a shitty name for us J-Lo stans. “It sounds more like a Jennifer Love Hewitt stan base name,” he wrote. As someone who once performed a rendition of “Jenny From the Block” as “Joey From the Block” for a high school talent show, I am repulsed by the banality of “JLovers.”

I hereby declare that we shall be called Hustlers. After all, hustling is what J-Lo is best at. She’s the Queen of Consistency.

Lorde: TBD

When Lorde finally releases her long-awaited third album, I hope we stans will have a name. Rumbling has started around names like “The Disciples” and “Ellavators,” after Lorde’s real name, Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor. I propose we shall henceforth be known as Ellaphants. We’re a large base, we’re wise and we’re social. Ellaphants, the light has turned green. We stampede now.