Fandoms have become a powerful force in the entertainment industry. Just last month we saw the results of a multi-year campaign to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut and any given week you can log onto Twitter and find music stans calculating exactly how many times each of them has to stream their fave’s new single on repeat to have it debut at #1. This kind of fan culture (which has been inflated by social media’s ubiquity) was not as organised in 2013, when Lady Gaga released her third studio album, ARTPOP, but that’s not stopping fans from trying to serve #JusticeForARTPOP, eight years later.
Despite Gaga promising it would be "THE ALBUM OF THE MILLENNIUM!!!!!!!!!!:)”, ARTPOP is a divisive chapter in her discography, considered (at the time) a musically confused commercial flop, and moving only one fourth of the copies Born This Way sold in its first week. Critics said it sounded “half-finished” with a mix of hits and “duds”, and Rolling Stone went as far as calling it "sexual but not sexy”. Naturally, Gaga’s diehard “Little Monsters” labelled the album too ahead of its time for some and defended its merit for years to come. But Gaga herself entered the discourse in 2019, with the now infamous tweet (from Mariah Carey’s rulebook on how to acknowledge irrelevant things): “I don’t remember ARTPOP”.
i donâ€™t remember ARTPOP— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) November 11, 2019
Despite Gaga shading her own music, fans have kept hope alive for an ARTPOP: Act II project, first teased by Mother Monster herself. Then, earlier this month, her collaborator on that project, DJ White Shadow (“Born This Way”, “Edge of Glory”, “Applause”) made an April Fool’s Day joke that many thought hinted those long-awaited lost tracks would finally be released, but alas… April Fool’s! He told fans they “gotta petition Gaga on that one”. Which they have. They started a change.org petition in addition to launching a new promo campaign, #buyARTPOPoniTunes, which quickly became a trending topic.
The petition to #buyARTPOPoniTunes for a volume II has inspired such a tremendous warmth in my heart. Making this album was like heart surgery, I was desperate, in pain, and poured my heart into electronic music that slammed harder than any drug I could find.— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) April 13, 2021
The hashtag pushed the eight-year-old album to #1 on iTunes in 28 countries, but more importantly, it caught Gaga’s attention (and warmed her heart). In a follow-up tweet she added, “Thank you for celebrating something that once felt like destruction”. I assume she’s not only referencing the cathartic recording process, but the negative headlines which followed the album’s release. I’m not just talking about bad reviews, I’m talking about elegies like a Noisey piece titled: “Drowning, Not Waving: The Slow and Bitter End of Lady Gaga’s Career” — and Noisey wasn’t the only one singing that tune.
I fell apart after I released this album. Thank you for celebrating something that once felt like destruction. We always believed it was ahead of its time. Years later turns out, sometimes, artists know. And so do little monsters. Paws up ðŸ™Œâ¤ï¸â¤ï¸â¤ï¸— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) April 13, 2021
But making your favourite celeb feel good is child’s play for these fanbases. The real happiness comes from changing a course of action in their favour. #ReleaseTheSnyderCut wasn’t a campaign to let Zack Snyder know he’s a great filmmaker. It was to get the director’s cut of Justice League in their hands. So is ARTPOP: Act II coming soon? DJ White Shadow says he spoke to LG on Monday, and they’re going to get together after she’s wrapped filming House of Gucci in Italy. He told fans they’ve made a plan to, get this, “discuss your wishes.”) That tells you all you need to know about the power of this fandom.