Stan culture is a growing topic on the Internet, specifically on social media, and every day, more and more “stans” for certain fandoms appear. A “stan” is a group of people who are seen as extremely obsessive fans. If you’re active on social media, you’ve probably seen some of these stans in action.
If you think you don’t know a stan, chances are you probably do, but just haven’t met them yet. The reality is, stans are pretty common and blend right in with everyone else.
One of the most active stan groups is the Harry Styles stan group, which existed long before stan culture was even defined. You most likely know Styles from One Direction, British boyband that took over the world from approximately 2011 to 2015.
Since the band’s hiatus in early 2016, Styles has gone on to star in Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” release his first solo record, go on a two-part worldwide solo tour, co-host the Met Gala and, most recently, release a new single and music video.
Styles fans are stirring with emotions, feeling excited, nervous and overwhelmed at the same time, unsure about when and what exactly the rockstar is going to release next.
“I feel like at this point there’s anticipation lingering in the air because once you get the single out, he could announce an album,” Bella Scott, said a sophomore in architecture. “He could announce the next Armageddon at that point.”
Styles nearly did about two weeks ago when he dropped his new single, “Lights Up,” along with a music video featuring a shirtless Styles dancing with a group of men and women, a type of video Styles fans aren’t used to seeing.
“Lights Up” was also Styles’ first piece of new music released since his debut solo album in 2017, so since 2017, fans had been eagerly and patiently waiting for Styles’ next move. So, when Styles randomly tweeted the word “Do” (a word in the chorus of the new single) with no context and posters promoting “Lights Up” started appearing around the world in different cities, Styles fans, understandingly, got excited.
“We all freaked out like, ‘oh my gosh there’s a new single coming out,’” said Scott.
By “we,” she means the millions of other Styles fans who took to social media to express their excitement and communicate with other fans, something Styles fans routinely do when something big like this happens.
“Social media presence brings all these people together,” said Scott. She said many fans, including her, used Twitter to create group chats with other fans who were going to the same concerts to coordinate meetups when Styles was touring. Scott loved being able to meet these people in person and immediately felt connected to them because of their shared interest in Styles and his music.
“They’re really fun people. Meeting them at concerts, the connection you have with them, there’s already such a strong bond,” said Scott. “It feels like you belong in this room with these 10,000 to 20,000 other people because they know Harry the way you do. They grew up with him the way that you did.”
For those fans who first started following Styles during his One Direction days, which is the majority of Styles fans, they really did grow up with him.
Jenna Glassman, a sophomore in DGS, for example, was a fan of One Direction, and Styles was one of her favorites in the band. She continued to support Styles throughout his solo career and has loved his solo music so far, which she describes as different and much more mature than what many people remember from One Direction.
“A lot of people assume his music is bubblegum pop,” said Glassman. “It’s actually much more mature.”
Styles was only 16 years old when One Direction formed. Now being 25, he’s bound to adopt a different sound and more mature lyrics.
Still, though, many people still view Styles as the same teenage heartthrob he was when he was in One Direction, said Kelly Leonard, junior in English.
“He’s the most misinterpreted person in the world,” Leonard said.
She says that since One Direction’s fanbase was made up of mostly teenage girls early on, people assume that Styles’ fanbase must be exactly the same. In reality, though, Styles’ solo music has been attracting an older, more diverse audience that is only growing as HS2 (what Styles fans are calling this new era) approaches, said Leonard.
“I think this era is going to draw in people who you wouldn’t think would be a Harry Styles fan,” she said.
What exactly HS2 is going to sound and look like is not completely clear, but based on what “Lights Up” sounds like and what its video features, as well as what Styles has told us in interviews, fans can safely assume that this new era is going to show a new side of Styles that fans aren’t used to seeing.
“I think it’s going be way different than what anyone expects,” said Leonard.
Glassman agrees, adding that Styles’ second album is going to be “very mixed” and full of “different vibes,” rather than focus on one distinct sound.
Scott predicts heavy R&B and classic rock influence and thinks that HS2 is going to dig deep into Styles’ journey of self-discovery and reflection.
“He’s more focused on himself than anyone else. He’s finding himself. He’s not focusing his energy on missing somebody or a relationship,” says Scott. “I’m excited to see what styles and what personal messages he’s going to implement in his new album.”