Of all the annoying trends to have swamped the pop landscape in recent years – endless video teasers, groups we didn't like the first time round reforming, Robin Thicke – one of the most grating has to be pop stars giving their fans nicknames.
The trend began in earnest in 2009, when Lady Gaga began referring to her fans as Little Monsters and asking them to put their "paws up" during her shows. Because Gaga's approach to pop stardom hinged so heavily on including her fans at every turn, this act of tribalism kind of made sense. But there was much, much worse to come. Soon, potential pop stars would be naming their fanbase before it had even had a chance to evolve – and these days it's not unusual for X Factor contestants to have nicknamed their followers before they've made it through bootcamp: Sam Callahan and his Callafans – we're looking at you.
Teen saviour of articulate pop Lorde has emerged as the lone voice of reason, telling Look magazine: "I find it grating to lump everyone into a really awkward, pun-centric name. People joke about it on Twitter: 'You should call us The Disciples.' Never!" I have discouraged it. I've tweeted multiple times: 'No fan name, I do not condone this.'" But unfortunately, not everyone shares her level-headed approach, as these five questionably named fanbases attest:
Poor Britney. We can't help but think that all she really wants to be doing is relaxing at home with a nice strawberry frappé, rather than being cajoled into trying to give a rat's arse about phrases such as "digital content" and "fan engagement". Despite having emerged on the scene only in 1999, Britney belongs to a more simple age, when getting a No 1 single relied on doing a promo tour of shopping malls and dressing up as a schoolgirl, rather than fretting about hashtags and finding innovative ways of upping her Facebook likes. Seeing as her personal Twitter is apparently run by a random phrase generator relying heavily on the words "blessed", "excited" and "y'all", perhaps it's no surprise Britney wasn't quick to give her devotees a social-media friendly nickname. When she did, she settled on the no-frills Team Britney. Well done everyone.
She called her ninth album The Emancipation of Mimi and named one of her children Moroccan after the decor in the top tier of her New York apartment. So it stands to reason that the nickname Mariah Carey has bequeathed her fans is as ridiculous as the woman herself. One of Mariah's publicists, Marvet Britto, explained the significance of Mimi's Lambs: "Her Lambs are invested in the total being of Mariah Carey. Lambs of God are supposed to be those individuals who carry forth the work of God. And so for her, those Lambs are her biggest evangelists." Forgive us if we're mistaken, but that reads a bit like Mariah thinks she may be God, doesn't it?
Her on-off boyfriend Justin Bieber calls his fans Beliebers, which might have had a vague tongue-in-cheek charm had he not alerted us to how seriously he took it by ruminating on whether Anne Frank would have belonged to his global harem. But Selena Gomez had a harder time settling on a name for her own tween audience. She originally opted for Selly Lovers, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, this struggled to catch on. So she accomplished a first when she renamed her own fanbase, resorting to the equally dire Selenators. Sorry, what?
Everyone knows Sarah Harding is the nation's least favourite member of Girls Aloud. No offence, Sarah, but when you're up against Brave Cheryl there's really no contest. In fact, Sarah's most significant moment during her time in the group may have been when she hit that alarming bum note performing on GMTV. To compensate, she began posturing as the rock chick of the band, memorably swigging from a bottle of whisky at the NME awards in 2007, seemingly unaware that she'd missed the ladette movement by about 10 years.
Most people over the age of 16 have probably given Pixie Lott about the same amount of brain-space that she evidently gave to naming her fans: ie not very much. The name smacks of those bits on The Apprentice where, given half an hour to come up with a business name, the teams panic and end up settling on something like "Symbiosis". It doesn't even manage to be a bad pun (though presumably fans of the Pixies might have objected if it had). Even Pixie herself seemed unconvinced, telling a reporter: "I actually prefer dogs."
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