|Single by Eminem featuring Dido|
|from the album The Marshall Mathers LP|
|Released||December 9, 2000|
|Eminem singles chronology|
"Stan" is a song by American rapper Eminem featuring British singer Dido. It was released on December 9, 2000 as the third single from Eminem's third album The Marshall Mathers LP (2000). It peaked at number one in eleven countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland and Australia.
The song was produced by The 45 King, and uses a slightly modified break from Dido's "Thank You" as its base sample. The track also samples the opening lines of "Thank You" as its chorus. Coincidentally, both songs were released as singles in late 2000. "Stan" has been called one of Eminem's best songs and is considered one of his signature songs. Rolling Stone magazine ranked "Stan" at #296 in their list in The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The song was also listed at #15 on VH1's list of the greatest hip hop songs of all-time. It has sold over 880,000 copies in the United Kingdom. "Stan" was also named by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
The song was nominated for multiple awards, including Best Song at the MTV Europe Music Awards, Video of the Year, Best Rap Video, Best Direction, Best Cinematography at the MTV Video Music Awards, but only won Best International Artist Video at the MuchMusic Video Awards. In April 2011, Complex magazine put together a list of the 100 greatest Eminem songs, ranking "Stan" at #2. The name of the eponymous character has given rise to a slang term online which refers to overzealous maniacal obsessed fans of a celebrity or personality.
The song tells the story of a person named Stanley "Stan" Mitchell who claims to be the biggest fan of Eminem. Stan writes a series of letters to Eminem; with each verse he becomes gradually more obsessed with him, and when there is no reply he becomes progressively angrier. He finally creates a voice recording of himself driving his car into a lake, with his pregnant girlfriend in the trunk, as shown in the lyrics:
"So this is my cassette I'm sending you, I hope you hear it. I'm in the car right now, doing 90 on the freeway. Hey Slim, I drank a fifth of vodka, you dare me to drive? See Slim... (Stan's girlfriend screams from the trunk) Shut up, bitch! I'm trying to talk! Hey Slim, that's my girlfriend screaming in the trunk. But I didn't slit her throat, I just tied her up. See, I ain't like you, 'cause if she suffocates, she'll suffer more, then she'll die too. Well, gotta go, I'm almost at the bridge now... Oh, shit! I forgot! How am I supposed to send this shit out?! (car tires squeal, followed by the sounds of the car crashing through the bridge's railing and falling into the river below)"
The first three verses are delivered by Eminem as Stan while the fourth verse is Eminem as himself attempting to write to Stan and reason with the troubled young man, only to realize that he had already heard about Stan's death on the news.
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In the first verse, an obsessed fan named Stan (played by Devon Sawa) is writing to Eminem for the third time, hoping his hero will write back. Rain and thunder can be heard in the background throughout, as well as the sound of the pencil scratching onto the letter. He explains the level of his devotion, "I got a room full of your posters and your pictures, man", and maintains that he sent two letters to Eminem but he "must not have got 'em". In addition, the song "Old World Disorder" is referenced as the "underground shit that you did with Skam". Stan also reveals that his girlfriend (played by Dido in the video) is pregnant and that he is going to name his daughter Bonnie, which could be a reference to Eminem's song "'97 Bonnie and Clyde" from The Slim Shady LP. Stan also empathizes about the suicide of Eminem's close uncle, writing that "I read about your Uncle Ronnie too, I'm sorry/I had a friend kill himself over some bitch who didn't want him".
In the second verse, Stan is clearly frustrated. He begins somewhat optimistically ("Dear Slim, you still ain't called or wrote/I hope you have a chance"), but begins to lose his temper by the second line ("I ain't mad, I just think it's fucked up you don't answer fans"). The thunder in the background steadily becomes louder, underscoring Stan's anger. Loud thunderclaps coincide with Stan's outbursts of anger. The verse also establishes Stan's deteriorating well-being: "Sometimes I even cut myself to see how much it bleeds/It's like adrenaline, the pain is such a sudden rush for me." Stan mentions his little brother, Matthew, who Stan imagines is an even bigger fan of Eminem than Stan himself. He thinks that Matthew considers Eminem as his idol, but actually it can be seen that Matthew actually idolizes Stan and his love for Eminem.[original research?] Stan is bitter because Eminem had supposedly refused to give Matthew an autograph at a concert, after waiting in the "blistering cold" for four hours. Stan explains why he identifies with Eminem ("I never knew my father neither/He used to always cheat on my mom and beat her"). He ends his letter with: "Sincerely yours, Stan./P.S. We should be together too."
The third verse is Stan recording himself onto an audio cassette in the car as he is about to commit suicide by driving over a bridge after drinking vodka. Anger takes over his better judgement and his words are slurred due to being under the influence of depressants, as evidenced by the line, "I'm on a thousand downers now, I'm drowsy." Stan, enraged, addresses Eminem as "Mr. I'm-Too-Good-to-Call-or-Write-My-Fans". He explains his predicament: "I'm in the car right now, I'm doing 90 on the freeway/Hey Slim, I drank a fifth of vodka, you dare me to drive?" (quoting the song "My Name Is" from Eminem's previous album, The Slim Shady LP, where Eminem raps that he "drank a fifth of vodka" (Kool-Aid in the clean version). This is followed by a reference to the Phil Collins song "In the Air Tonight", misquoting it as "In the Air of the Night". Specifically, Stan refers to an urban legend that the song is about Collins seeing a man drowning, while a closer bystander does nothing to save him. Stan vents further, revealing the depths of his anger: "I hope you can't sleep and you dream about it/and when you dream I hope you can't sleep and you scream about it/I hope your conscience eats at you and you can't breathe without me". After that, screaming is heard and Stan reveals that his pregnant girlfriend is in the trunk suffocating: "Shut up, bitch, I'm tryin' to talk! Hey Slim, that's my girlfriend screaming in the trunk/But I didn't slit her throat, I just tied her up" (referring to Eminem's song "Kim", where Eminem murders his wife after realizing she is cheating and doesn't love him; at the end of "Kim" he slits her throat and throws her in his trunk). At the end, Stan realizes too late that he will be unable to send the tape to Eminem. ("Oh, shit! I forgot! How am I supposed to send this shit out?"). A car crash then follows, as the car breaks through the bridge's rails and falls into the water below.
The fourth verse is Eminem's belated reply to Stan. He begins casually: "Dear Stan, I meant to write you sooner but I just been busy." He also says he sends a Starter cap with his autograph for Matthew, and reveals something of his serious and sober side with his advice for Stan (although he does not speak in a calming way): "What's this shit you said about you like to cut your wrists too?/I say that shit just clownin', dog/C'mon, how fucked up is you?/You got some issues, Stan/I think you need some counseling. I really think you and your girlfriend need each other/or maybe you just need to treat her better." He further explains in his letter that he had seen a similar story on the news which scared him, about a disturbed man who killed himself and his pregnant girlfriend. The song ends with Eminem's realization of what has happened: Stan was the man on the news ("...in the car they found a tape, but they didn't say who it was to—/Come to think about it, his name was—it was you. Damn..."). In the video, after this there is one last lightning flash, in which Stan's face is reflected in the window next to Eminem. In the full version of the song, the last scene shows Matthew and his mother in the cemetery, looking at Stan's grave. When Matthew takes off his hood, it is apparent that he has dyed his hair blonde, just as his brother Stan did in a further attempt to be like Eminem. In the last scene they take a shot of Matthew crying on the grave of his brother.
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In the MTV "clean" version the song and video were censored. Significant portions from the first two verses and most of the third verse were removed. MTV also cut out all traces of Stan’s girlfriend bound in the trunk of the car and removed one scene showing him guzzling vodka while driving. In the MTV full version, which is 8:15 long, verse 3 censors Stan mentioning his girlfriend in the trunk (so "Shut up bitch" and "screaming in the trunk" is censored), and about him not slitting her throat, but tied her up, and "if she suffocates, she'll suffer more, then she'll die too", which "slit", "tied her up", "suffocates", and "die" is censored.
Dido has stated that she was gagged in the third verse of the video, but this was censored so widely that versions with her gagged are rare. In the uncensored version, Stan is shown drinking at the wheel of the car before showing Dido struggling in the trunk of the car. She manages to remove the duct tape from her mouth and screams before struggling for breath. Most versions were censored so that there is only a brief clip of Dido in the trunk of the car towards the end of the verse. It also censors when Stan says he "drank a fifth of vodka", which censors "drank" and "vodka"; and censors when he says he's on "a thousand downers", which "downers" is censored; and also censors Stan drinking while driving. At the end of the third verse, "Well, gotta go, I'm almost at the bridge now" is changed to "Well, gotta go, I'm almost at the end of the bridge now". In the fourth verse, the line "[And what's this] shit about us meant to be together" is completely censored. All references to the girlfriend in the trunk are censored out, including the line: "And had his girlfriend in his trunk, and she was pregnant with his kid."
In the MTV short version, which was used for radio airplay due to time constraints, the second verse lines that are missing are from "I ain't that mad though, I just don't like bein' lied to" to "I even got a tattoo of your name across the chest"; the video cuts showing Stan meeting Eminem, talking about how his father cheated and beat his mother and showed him getting a "Slim Shady" tattoo on his chest. The missing lyrics from the third verse are of Stan talking about drinking while driving and referencing "In the Air Tonight", which in the video, it skips from showing Stan near-missing a car, and swerving to avoid crashing into it. The lines that are missing are from "Hey Slim, I drank a fifth of vodka, you dare to me to drive?" to "I hope you know I ripped all of your pictures off the wall". It also removes the chorus after the third verse and goes straight to the fourth verse; the video then cuts to Eminem at last receiving the letter from Stan, and the car sinking more into the water.
In the Fuse version of the video, various lines and words are silenced, more so than on the clean version of the LP; half of one of the beginning verses are cut out, and then the song fades out about halfway through the second verse. The LP version of the song is over six minutes long, and, as mentioned, the full version of the video is 8:15; however, when Fuse played the video, it was slightly over two minutes.
In Fuse's original state as a rock and alternative station, the same versions as on MTV were shown. "Stan" was also released on track 17 of Curtain Call: The Hits, which features Elton John. On the clean and explicit versions of Curtain Call: The Hits, the live track censored only the profanity, unlike the clean version of the studio track version of "Stan".
Stephen Thomas Erlewine highlighted the song. Entertainment Weekly praised the song, too: "Eminem proves himself a peerless rap poet with a profound understanding of the power of language. Stan, an epistolary exchange between the artist and a dangerously obsessive fan, may be the most moving song about star worship ever recorded" and added that "Stan" blazes significant new ground for rap. LA Times was also positive: "'Stan', the album's most haunting track, is superb storytelling with a point. It has the affecting tone of such rap high points as Ice Cube's 'It Was a Good Day' and 2Pac's 'Dear Mama '."
An album review found on CD Universe shares a similar opinion: "The most startling moment has to be 'Stan', featuring haunting, ethereal guest vocals from Dido; an incongruously sublime track, it spins an O. Henry-meets-'60s teenage-death-song tale of obsessed fan worship gone terribly wrong." NME magazine praised the song: "'Stan' is a wonderful short story, an astute study in extreme fandom." Sputnik Music described that "Stan's sampling of Dido and use of rain and writing sound effects" make the album versatile. The same critic listed the song in the Recommended Downloads list and reviewed it:
"If you haven't heard this, you probably make a career out of living under rocks. It tells the story of an obsessive fan who kills themselves because their idol (Eminem) never writes back, and introduces one of the album's key themes – the scary power of fame. Ironic, then, that this album made him the biggest cultural figurehead on the planet. It starts with a sample of Dido's 'Thank You' under a sample of rain. This sample goes on to form the song's hook, relating the level of Stan's obsession and almost making him a sympathetic character (Your picture on my wall/It reminds me that it's not so bad....). Offsetting this is Eminem's raps under the persona of Stan, which reveal him as a reprehensible character; mentally unstable, self-mutilating, sexually confused, volatile, and abusive to his pregnant girlfriend (whose life he takes too, when he takes his own). Eminem's final verse is him attempting to write back, asking him not to be like this guy he saw on the news....Overplayed? Yes. But even so, of all of Eminem's singles, this one demonstrates his power as a rapper and his skill as a poet best."
IGN praised the song as "easily the most scathingly introspective rumination on fan adoration, idol assimilation, and borderline stalker etiquette. Teamed to Dido's lulling 'Thank You' with its almost somnambulistically hypnotic pop sultriness provides a jolting contrast to the twisted storyline of a musical obsession gone awry. It also paints a picture of what it's like to be knee deep in the push-and-pull world of a superstar. The song's poignancy never fades, even almost five years later it's still potent." Slant Magazine was mixed: "'Stan' is an interesting look into the mind of a fanatic (albeit through the eyes of an equally disturbed individual), but it's structured entirely around someone else's work (Dido's 'Thank You')."
"Stan" is perhaps Eminem's most critically acclaimed song, after "Lose Yourself", and has been called a "cultural milestone", referred to as "Eminem's best song" by About.com. Analyzing "Stan" in The Guardian, writer and literary critic Giles Foden compared Eminem to Robert Browning.
At the 2001 Grammy Awards, when he was facing all manner of criticism from GLAAD over his lyrics, Eminem responded by performing "Stan" with singer Elton John, who is openly gay, singing Dido's lines. Many of the profanities were substituted, for example, "You're like his favorite idol" in line of "You're like his fucking idol", and "stuff" for "shit". Recordings of this performance were available for download on Eminem's official website Eminem.com and, later, on his 2005 greatest hits release Curtain Call: The Hits.
Christian rap artist KJ-52 recorded two songs: "Dear Slim" and "Dear Slim, Part II", attempting to contact Eminem and talk to him about his own faith and help him through his troubles. The lyrics to "Dear Slim" reference the obsessed fan in "Stan". Various instruments within the song "My Life" by The Game were taken from Stan.
Rapper Canibus released a response track to this song titled "U Didn't Care" in which Canibus, portraying Stan, accused Eminem of not caring about him at all.
"Stan" has entered into the lexicon as a term for an overly-obsessed fan of someone or something. The term is especially popular in the rap community; in "Ether", the anti-Jay-Z diss track, Nas notably called Jay-Z a "stan" of both himself and The Notorious B.I.G..
"Stan" has been listed by many as one of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time. It was ranked #3 on a list of the greatest rap songs in history by Q magazine and came tenth in a similar survey conducted by Top40-Charts.com. Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time ranked it #290, one of Eminem's two songs on the list along with "Lose Yourself"; in the updated 2010 list, it was ranked at #296. It ranked #45 on About.com's Top 100 Rap Songs.
The song ranked #15 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop, and #2 on their Countdown Millennium Songs. It was also named the 46th Best Song of the Decade by Complex magazine, and the 10th Best Song of the decade by Rolling Stone Magazine. The song was ranked at number 58 in Rolling Stone Magazine's list of "100 Greatest Hip-Hop songs of all time".
- List of best-selling singles
- List of European number-one hits of 2000
- List of number-one singles of 2000 (Ireland)
- List of number-one hits of 2000 (Switzerland)
- List of UK Singles Chart number ones of the 2000s
- List of Austrian number-one hits of 2001
- List of number-one singles in Australia in 2001
- List of number-one hits in Denmark
- List of number-one hits of 2001 (Germany)
- List of number-one hits of 2001 (Italy)
- Murder ballad
- Bad Guy (song)
- White Noise: The Eminem Collection. Thunder's Mouth Press. 2003. ISBN 978-1-56025-534-5.
"Stan," Eminem's most celebrated track, folds an epistolary rap into a horrorcore scenario.
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- on YouTube
|Order of precedence|
"Can't Fight the Moonlight" by LeAnn Rimes
|IRMA number-one single
December 9, 2000 – January 13, 2001 (6 weeks)
"Touch Me" by Rui da Silva feat. Cassandra
"Never Had a Dream Come True" by S Club 7
|UK Singles Chart number-one single
December 10, 2000 – December 17, 2000
"Can We Fix It?" by Bob The Builder
"Can't Fight the Moonlight" by LeAnn Rimes
|Australian ARIA Singles Chart number-one single
March 4, 2001 – March 11, 2001
"Case of the Ex" by Mýa
"Heaven" by Gotthard
|Swiss number-one single
December 31, 2000 – February 25, 2001
"Daylight in Your Eyes" by No Angels