|Single by Eminem featuring Dido|
|from the album The Marshall Mathers LP|
|Released||November 20, 2000|
|Eminem singles chronology|
|Dido singles chronology|
"Stan" is a song by American rapper Eminem featuring vocals sampled from the opening lines of British singer Dido's song "Thank You". It was released in November 20, 2000 as the third single from Eminem's third album, The Marshall Mathers LP (2000). It reached number one in 12 countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, and Australia.
The 45 King-produced track also uses a slightly modified break from "Thank You" as its base sample; 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. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked "Stan" 296th on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, upping their ranking to 223rd in a 2021 updated list. The song was also listed 15th on VH1's list of the greatest hiphop songs of all time and named in 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, and Best Cinematography at the MTV Video Music Awards. It 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 and ranked "Stan" second. The eponymous character's name gave rise to a slang term that refers to overzealous, maniacal, overly obsessed, entitled fans of a celebrity or personality; the term has since been included in the Oxford English Dictionary.
The song tells the story of a person named Stanley "Stan" Mitchell (voiced by Eminem) who claims to be Eminem's biggest fan. He writes Eminem several letters; over three verses, he becomes more obsessive, and when there is no reply he becomes angrier. He finally creates a voice recording of himself while driving his car on the highway, having consumed large quantities of depressants and alcohol; this verse includes a call-back to Eminem's "My Name Is" with the lyrics "I drank a fifth of vodka, you dare me to drive?" He reveals that his pregnant girlfriend is tied up in the trunk as he approaches a bridge, and realizes just before driving off it that he has no way to send the tape to Eminem.
The fourth verse features Eminem as himself, writing back to Stan and attempting to reason with him. He warns Stan that he should get help, telling him about a story he heard on the news about a man who had driven his car off a bridge in a drunken stupor, killing himself and his pregnant girlfriend. Eminem then comes to the realization that this man was actually Stan.
Directed by Dr. Dre and Philip Atwell, the video is a literal interpretation of the story. The video features Devon Sawa as Stan and Dido as his pregnant girlfriend. A prologue involves Stan dyeing his hair blonde and reacting angrily to being called "Stanley" by his girlfriend. Later, he sits in a basement full of Eminem's posters, writing letters that express his devotion as "your [Eminem's] biggest fan". He is aware of every development in Eminem's personal life.
Stan wants Eminem to contact him through a personal letter or a phone call; but, due to unfortunate circumstances, the letters fail to reach Eminem in a timely manner. Believing he has been ignored, Stan uses a tape recorder to record himself driving along a rain-soaked highway while his girlfriend is locked up in the trunk; which he does with the intention of driving off a bridge. In the process, Stan references both "My Name Is" ("I drank a fifth of vodka, dare me to drive?") and an urban legend about Phil Collins's "In the Air Tonight" before realizing that there is no way of transmitting this final tape to Eminem. The car then breaks through the bridge barrier, sealing both occupants' fates.
Stan's mother and his little brother Matthew visit his grave. When Matthew opens his hoodie, he has dyed his hair blonde like Stan. Eminem finally gets around to responding to Stan. He apologizes for being late, thanks him for being a fan, and expresses interest in Stan's personal life. Eminem worries about Stan's mental state and says he does not want Stan to end up like a story he had seen on the news recently—a man who had driven drunk off a bridge with his girlfriend in the trunk, about whom he then realizes, "It was you. Damn." Unbeknownst to Eminem, flashes of lightning shine on his window, revealing the ghost of Stan silently glaring. The video ends with Matthew staring at Stan's grave.
- Singing and lyrics: Eminem, Dido
- Production: Eminem, The 45 King
- Mixing: Eminem
- Guitar and bass: Mike Elizondo
- Keyboard: Mike Elizondo, Tommy Coster
- Executive producer: Dr. Dre
- Composer: Marshall Mathers, Dido Armstrong, The 45 King
- Producer video: Chris Palladino
- Cinematographer: Dariusz Wolski
- Directors: Philip G. Atwell & Dr. Dre
- Appearances in the clip: Devon Sawa, Dido, Nathan Mathers Eminem
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, including the screaming in the background, and 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", (Eminem quotes the title as "In the Air of the Night) 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 Fuse's original state as a rock and alternative station, the same versions of the video were shown as on MTV. However, in later Fuse airings, more lines and words are silenced 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, after playing for approximately two minutes. "Stan" was also released on track 17 of Curtain Call: The Hits; on the clean and explicit versions, the live track censored only the profanity, unlike the clean version of the studio track.
"Stan" was met with critical acclaim, with praise directed to the song's epistolary narrative structure, emotional range and lyrical depth. 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. The Los Angeles 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'."
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 one of Eminem's most acclaimed songs 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 criticism from GLAAD over his lyrics, Eminem responded by performing "Stan" with singer Elton John singing Dido's lines. Many of the profanities were substituted, for example, "You're like his favorite idol" in place 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.
Rapper Canibus released a response track to "Stan" titled "U Didn't Care" in which Canibus, imitating Stan, accused Eminem of not caring about him. Christian rap artist KJ-52 recorded two songs: "Dear Slim" and "Dear Slim, Part II", which attempted to contact Eminem in an allusion to "Stan". Eminem later referenced a fan who had written a letter saying he was praying for him in "Careful What You Wish For". "My Life" by The Game samples "Stan". Conservative 'rapper' Tom MacDonald (rapper) recorded a response track to Stan in 2021, making detractors comparing MacDonald to Stan.
"Stan" has entered the lexicon as a term for an overly-obsessed fan of someone or something and is used colloquially to express fandom of all kinds. The term is especially popular in the rap community; in "Ether", a diss track against rapper Jay-Z, Nas notably called Jay a "stan" of both himself and The Notorious B.I.G. The term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2017.
"Stan" has been listed by many as one of the greatest hip hop songs of all time. It was ranked number three 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 number 290, one of Eminem's two songs on the list along with "Lose Yourself"; in the updated 2010 list, it was ranked at number 296. It ranked number 45 on About.com's Top 100 Rap Songs.
The song ranked number 15 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop, and number two 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. The song was ranked at number 58 in Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Hip-Hop songs of all time".
Stan has influenced many other hip-hop songs, including Tyler the Creator's 2013 song Colossus, off of Wolf (Tyler, the Creator album). This track dwells on similar themes as Stan, such as growing up without a father, feeling like an outsider, and deep emotional attachment to a rapper.
In 2020, Saturday Night Live featured a Christmas parody of "Stan" called "Stu", featuring Pete Davidson as Stu writing to Santa and becoming increasingly angry when he does not answer his requests for a PlayStation 5, with a cameo appearance from Eminem himself who does receive the system for Christmas.
Awards and nominations
|2001||BET Awards||Video of the Year||Nominated|
|MTV Europe Music Awards||Best Song||Nominated|
|MTV Video Music Awards||Video of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Male Video||Nominated|
|Best Rap Video||Nominated|
|Best Direction in a Video||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography in a Video||Nominated|
|1.||"Stan" (radio edit)||5:33|
|2.||"Guilty Conscience" (radio version with gunshot)||3:21|
|3.||"Hazardous Youth" (acapella version)||0:46|
|4.||"Get You Mad" (Sway & King Tech featuring DJ Revolution with Eminem)||4:22|
|Australia (ARIA)||2× Platinum||140,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Gold||25,000*|
|Denmark (IFPI Danmark)||Gold||45,000|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Gold||25,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||2× Platinum||1,470,000|
|United States (RIAA)||2× Platinum||2,000,000|
* Sales figures based on certification alone.
- 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)
- List of Romanian Top 100 number ones of the 2000s
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'Stan', Eminem's most celebrated track, folds an epistolary rap into a horrorcore scenario.
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