Throughout the years, we’ve seen thousands of people swarm the likes of The Beatles, Queen or more recently bands like One Direction (guilty as charged). But the face of fangirl culture is changing and it’s starting with the likes of artists such as YUNGBLUD.
Yungblud, born Dominic Harrison, is a 23-year-old from Doncaster in the UK. His musical genre falls into the alternative rock/ pop-punk category, with influences that can be heard throughout his musical catalogue. He was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and was known to be rebellious whilst studying at school; a trait that led to him to eventually be suspended from his studies. He was prescribed Ritalin at a young age, a medication used to suppress symptoms of ADHD in its sufferers. His mother later asked for him to be taken off of it as it apparently stripped his personality from him. It is this personality that we now see and associate almost exclusively with YUNGBLUD as an artist.
Inspired by the likes of Bowie, Winehouse and GaGa, it’s no surprise that YUNGBLUD remains true entirely and wholeheartedly to his own beliefs. Describing himself as both pansexual and polyamorous, these labels defy the traditional world in which he grew up in. In such a way, his music is the visual experience of what makes YUNGBLUD, YUNGBLUD; using his lyrical ability to encourage and inspire the youth of today to be unapologetically and authentically themselves.
However, it’s not just in his actions that we’re seeing YUNGBLUD change the face of modern fandom. His gigs are a hotbed for young individuals presenting themselves in whatever ways they please. Boys are wearing dresses, girls are rocking buzz cuts, and both are wearing whatever they feel comfortable in. For many, young females especially, live music events can be a daunting and scary experience. In 2018, the Press Association reported that nearly fifty-per cent of female festival attendees in Britain had experienced unwanted sexual behaviour whilst attending live events. This statistic is, unfortunately, something which many females can understand; having either witnessed or been the victim of such a scenario.
As time passes, we are seeing more and more artists make a stand against issues like these; and YUNGBLUD is no exception. In a video that went viral on TikTok, YUNGBLUD paused his set to call out a group of men pushing girls amongst the crowd. He addressed the situation by announcing that all members of the crowd are “one big family” and got security to remove those male attendees from the audience. Admissions like these and as seen in other artists such as Matty Healy from The 1975, are key in changing the face and experience of live music for fans.
Having attended shows of his before, his gigs truly feel like you’re part of a large family gathering. The sense of community is electric and you know that everybody in that room can relate to feelings that are similar to your own. YUNGBLUD is known for his gender-fluid dress sense, his signature pink socks being a symbolic favourite of his fans’. The staple smeared eyeliner is a beautiful expression of individualism and is something he inspires amongst his fans too.
“I designed my stage outfits, the pink socks, what my community was going to be about, the fact that I’m never going to conform again to be something that someone else wants me to be,” he shared in a Rolling Stone interview back in 2019.
His first, self-titled EP was an introduction to the world. His mission was to see if others felt the same way to him; feeling alienated, alone and confused. He didn’t want the future generation to grow up feeling like that, and his music coaxes these people to come to the fore and embrace their unique traits. “No matter who you are, what race you are, what sexuality you are, what colour you are, you have a right to be heard, and you have a voice,” he spoke openly to Insider. His fans, known as the Black Hearts Club, are changing the face of fandom culture in ways that others are not. They champion their community and welcome outsiders in with open arms, both practising and preaching acceptance amongst wider society.
Speaking on his fans in an interview with Spotify, he said, “Even though there are many of us, there is one… our souls are connected. There’s a wire running out of my arm into millions of these kids’ hearts and then they’re running back because we understand each other when no one else does. I ain’t arsed about hits or charts ‘cause that’s just numbers to me. All I care about is how many people I walk out to. I want a stadium full of mates—that’s what I call them”.
Our society today is flooded with people who worship and love the likes of Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber. And whilst these artists are prominent in the lives of so many people, they are not so in the way that YUNGBLUD is. He is changing this conversation, flipping the industry on its head and doing it both loudly and proudly. His music, unlike many artists, isn’t all about love. It’s about life and the problems we face growing up in a world where we are placed into stereotypical, pre-assigned boxes.
At the heart of every track in all of his music, but especially in his latest album ‘Weird!’ YUNGBLUD conveys a message of hope, trusting your own choices and believing in yourself wholeheartedly. He empowers his fans with all the lessons that he has learnt, heading up a community full of activists who fight for a world where everyone can be whatever they want to be.
His song superdeadfriends is arguably one of the most direct on his new album. “When you’re making a baby in missionary / Be prepared to accept them for what they’re gonna be,” he sings. This heightens the message that we are born with our individualities and should be praised and appreciated for the beauty of being different.
Many describe his work as an energetic piece of fresh air, whilst others feel it somewhat misses the mark. Despite this, he continues princeling the outcast masses through his work. He has been criticised for only being enjoyed by Generation Z, but many have agreed that he is starting a vital conversation that begins with empowering those in the most transformative stages of life. Whilst embodying the ‘edgy teen’ stereotype, YUNGBLUD has spoken to so many. His initial music often focused on politics and taking a stand against the authorities. But his most recent releases certainly feel more personal and vulnerable. It almost feels like he’s let us into a glimpse of his complicated childhood as well as the mind of the twenty-three-year-old man he is now.
YUNGBLUD’s fanbase is like no other. They advocate for equality and individuality and together they feel solace in being a part of such a safe and progressive community. YUNGBLUD has provided many across the world with a secure place to be 100% and authentically themselves. Hopefully soon, we will start to see this notion trickle into the wider fan community, focusing less on infatuation and more on changing the world.
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