If you're an avid music fan, you'll probably have gone through a phase of being deeply, utterly and comprehensively besotted with one particular band or artist at some point in your life.
Maybe it was when you were a kid and discovering the joy of pop music, as a teenager getting into rock or metal or hip-hop, or even as an adult, falling for the charms of a band or album, collecting everything they release and travelling to see them play live.
Obviously there's no shame in that, but as adults, most of us manage to come through the phase where any negative criticism of your favourite band results in the red mist descending. Most of us can usually deal with it in a 'live and let live' manner and avoid taking it personally.
Others, however, have never gotten past the 'rabid fanaticism' stage, and make it their life's mission to take down anyone who might dare criticise the beloved object(s) of their affection. And believe us, we've encountered a few of 'em.
Below, we take a look at some of the most obsessive/least rational fanbases in modern music.
ONE DIRECTION: DIRECTIONERS
Easy one to start with. Boybands have been around for decades in some form or another, and it's a rite of passage for youngsters to pledge their undying allegiance to their favourite members and curse anyone who just doesn't 'get it'. However, the rabid zeal with which Directioners conduct themselves is downright terrifying at times. We put it down to the popularity of the Internet; as fans can now access more of the mundane minutiae of the lives of celebrities than ever before, they feel a greater sense of ownership - as well as screen to hide behind when it comes to serving anonymous abuse and challenging any dissenting opinions. In other words, you never would have had the same level of death threats and hand-wringing over Take That or New Kids on the Block in their prime. And we know, maaaan. We've been there. God help Twitter's web servers on the day they eventually break up.
This one is a little more head-scratching. In all seriousness, the novelty act known as Jedward should be back working behind the deli counter of their local petrol station by now. The fact that they've managed to maintain some semblance of a career is both baffling and disturbing, but it's nothing to do with the music; it's down to their sweet-yet-deluded Jedhead fan base who insist upon throwing the Irish twins lifeline after lifeline and perpetuating everyone else's misery. In a way, you truly have to admire their devotion – but we would at least understand it a little better if there was any music merit behind it. We'd like to say 'Aha, but they'll look back on this in five years and cringe', but we honestly don't think that'll be the case. Oh well. It takes all sorts, eh?
THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS: THE ECHELON
If you even dare suggest that Thirty Seconds to Mars are only given the time of day because of lead singer Jared Leto's fame as an actor, you'll have The Echelon to deal with. That's the American rock trio's self-styled 'family' – named after a song on their debum album - who will defend this awful band with their dying breath. Most likely to: tell you what an amazing and kind and generous person Leto is and repeat his quote that "it's not for everyone; it's only for those who understand.' Least likely to: admit that they are both inflating his ego and lining his pockets.
LADY GAGA: LITTLE MONSTERS
Say what you like about Lady Gaga, but… actually, no. Don't say what you like, especially if it's negative: that's a mistake that combative celeb blogger Perez Hilton once made, when he ignited a feud with his former friend, known as 'Mother Monster' to her devotees. He claimed that fame had "poisoned her"; she said that he was "fake". Her Little Monsters came out in force, sending death threats to the blogger and his infant son, until they were called off by Mother Monster. Apparently the feud is over, so we can all get back to our lives. PHEW.
CHRIS BROWN: TEAM BREEZY
Let's just get this out of the way: it's highly disturbing that enough people have chosen to overlook the fact that this man is a convicted woman-beater and continue to support his career, buy his records and go to his concerts. That's Team Breezy for you; fans of Chris Brown who either ignore his personal life or somehow get off on it. Enough said.
JUSTIN BIEBER: BELIEBERS
We used to be able to understand this one: cute (if permanently confused-looking) young pop star with floppy hair and a cheeky smile, grasping a catchy little number called 'Baby' in his sticky little paws. It was a no-brainer that the Canadian would attract a legion of young fans, in the same way as heartthrobs like Elvis or Michael Jackson did in their day (not that Bieber is musically comparable to any of those acts, of course). What's more puzzling is how he's managed to keep 'em on board as both he and they have grown up; now 21, his 'bad boy' persona is growing increasingly tiresome, as is his unabashed vanity and complete lack of self-awareness. It's also been a whole three years since he released an album, so even the most devoted Beliebers must be at the end of their tethers – although he's apparently working with Diplo, Skrillex and Kanye West on new material (can't wait to hear how that one goes down). Still, with 63 million Twitter followers, what do we know?