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Stan (song)

"Stan" is the third single from The Marshall Mathers LP, by rapper Eminem featuring Dido. It peaked at number one in the United Kingdom and Australia.

It is also included on Curtain Call: The Hits, performed with Eminem and Elton John. The song was produced by The 45 King and Eminem, and samples the first couple of lines of "Thank You" by Dido as the chorus.

Lyrics

"Stan" is a fictional story of a fan who is obsessed with Eminem and writes to him but doesn't receive a reply. The first three verses are delivered by Stan, while the fourth verse is Eminem responding to Stan, only to realize that he has heard about Stan's death on the news as he was writing to him.

In the first verse, Stan is writing to Eminem for the third time, hoping his hero will write back. He explains the level of his devotion ("I got a room full of your posters and your pictures, man") and maintains that Eminem "must not have got 'em", his previous two letters. In addition, the song "Old World Disorder" is referenced as the "underground shit that you did with Skam." Stan also reveals that his girlfriend is pregnant, and that he is going to name his daughter Bonnie (a reference to Eminem's song "'97 Bonnie and Clyde" from The Slim Shady LP), and sympathizes with the suicide of a family member ("I read about your Uncle Ronnie too I'm sorry/I had a friend kill himself over some bitch who didn't want him"). Despite Stan's optimism, the menacing beats, Dido's haunting voice in the background that creates an effective recussion, intermittent thunder and rainfall, and the background music keeps the mood dark and ominous.

In the second verse, Stan is clearly frustrated. He begins somewhat optimistically 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 has grown steadily more constant and louder, particularly at some of the more chilling lines in the song. The verse also establishes Stan's deteriorating sanity: "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. 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 rapping into a tape recorder in the car he is about to drive off a bridge. His words are slurred, and he is clearly under the influence of depressants, as evidenced by the line, "I'm on a thousand downers now, I'm drowsy." His pregnant girlfriend can be heard screaming in the trunk and the rain and thunder are loud and insistent. Stan, enraged, addresses Eminem as "Dear Mister-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 "My Name Is" on the previous Eminem album, The Slim Shady LP). This is followed by a reference to a 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. Screaming is heard and Stan reveals that his pregnant girlfriend is in the trunk suffocating "That's my girlfriend screaming in the trunk/But I didn't slit her throat I just tied her up," once again referencing Eminem's song "'97 Bonnie and Clyde" in which Eminem implies that he had slit his wife's throat before putting her in the trunk and dropping her off in a lake ("And don't worry about that little booboo on her throat/It's just a little scratch, it don't hurt/Her was eatin' dinner while you were sleepin' and spilled ketchup on her shirt/Mama's messy, ain't she/We'll let her wash off in the water"). Stan vents, 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", while a montage shows him ripping all his posters of Eminem down and smashing his television. At the end, Stan realizes too late -- he will be unable to send the tape to Eminem. A car crash then follows.

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 cap with his autograph for Matthew, and reveals something of his serious and sober side with his advice for Stan: "You got some issues Stan/I think you need some counseling" and "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."), and then a sudden clash of thunder and lightning. In the music video, the lightning strike illuminates a split-second image of Stan's face staring in through a window at his former idol.

Music video

The music video was directed by Phil Atwell and Dr. Dre in California. It is primarily a visualization of the story the song tells, featuring Canadian actor Devon Sawa as Stan, the obsessive fan, and British pop singer Dido, who sings the chorus, as his pregnant girlfriend. It features a cameo appearance by Jane Yamamoto, who had previously been involved in the music video of Forgot About Dre.

It was nominated at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2001 for Video of the Year, Best Direction, Best Male Video, Best Rap Video, and Best Cinematography.

The music video was ranked #1 on MuchMusic's 100 Best Videos.

The music video ranked at #3 on MuchMusic's 50 Most Controversial Videos, for its look at too much heroism.

There is an alternate version of the video where Dido's character appears only in her singing cues, not showing her bound and gagged inside Stan's trunk. This was probably edited because of the violent or cruel nature of the scene. However, this version fails to explain what happens to the character afterward.

Dido reportedly did not want to do the video at first, as she was uncomfortable with the scene in the video where she had to be tied up and have her mouth covered with duct tape, but later agreed to it and got along well with Eminem and the crew on set.

Censorship

The song, like many other Eminem songs, has a high number of censors, but this song has no clean version, and blanks out profanity, especially of the word "shit" being used over again (a total of 16 times), but also censors things that aren't profanity (like Self-harm and abusing his girlfriend), mostly in verse 3.

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. The video censors verse 3 from showing her tied up and her mouth covered with duct tape in the trunk, which she manages to get it off from her mouth and screams, which it censors from hearing her screams. 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 from showing Stan drinking while driving. Also, at the end of verse 3, "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". While in the fourth verse, the line "[And what's this] shit about us meant to be together" is completely censored. It also censors the whole line: "And had his girlfriend in the trunk, and she was pregnant with his kid".

In the MTV short version, the intro skit is shortened, and lines are missing on verses 2 and 3, because of the length of the song, to make the video shorter, and 16 lines each verse, making the video 6:00 long. 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", which the video cuts showing Stan meeting Eminem, saying about his father cheated on his mother and beat her and showing him get a "Slim Shady" tattoo on his chest. The third verse lines that are missing is about Stan saying about drinking while driving and saying about Phil Collins' song "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, which the video cuts Eminem at last receiving the letter from Stan, and the car sinking more into the water.

Legacy

The song is perhaps Eminem's most critically acclaimed song and has been called a 'cultural milestone'. and referred to as "Eminem's best song" by About.com.

The song was released in the United Kingdom in December 2000.

The name 'Stan' was first used by Eminem in his song "Guilty Conscience" in the skit to verse 2, a 21-year old who takes an underage girl upstairs in a rave party.

At the 2001 Grammy Awards, Eminem was facing a lot of criticism from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation over his lyrics; Eminem responded by performing "Stan" with singer Elton John singing Dido's lines. 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 this song entitled "U Didn't Care", in which Canibus, portraying Stan, accused Eminem of not caring about him at all.

As a result of the song, the term "Stan" is sometimes used within the hip-hop community to derisively refer to people seen as fanboys of certain artists. In "Ether," the anti-Jay-Z diss track, Nas calls Jay a "Stan" and claims that the latter idolized him and built his career from Nas's. Eminem himself used it in the edited version of Curtain Call: The Hits, directed at Moby in "Without Me".

"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 in 10th in a similar survey conducted by Top40-Charts.com.. Rolling Stone'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." It ranked #45 on About.com's Top 100 Rap Songs

Various instruments within the song "My Life" by The Game are interpolations of "Stan".

On Vh1's Greatest Hip Hop songs, Stan Ranked #15 out of the top 100 Hip Hop songs

Track listing

  1. "Stan" (Radio Edit)
  2. "Guilty Conscience" (Radio Version)
  3. "Hazardous Youth" (Acappella Version)
  4. "Get You Mad"
  5. "Stan" (Uncut Video) [CD-ROM]

Charts

Chart (2000) Peak
position
Australia Singles Chart 1
Austrian Singles Chart 1
France Singles Chart 4
Netherlands Singles Chart 3
Belgium Singles Chart (Flanders) 3
Belgium Singles Chart (Wallonia) 2
Sweden Singles Chart 3
Finland Singles Chart 1
Switzerland Singles Chart 1
Norway Singles Chart 3
Denmark Singles Chart 1
Italy Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 14
United Kingdom Singles Chart 1
USA Billboard Hot 100 Chart 51
USA Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Tracks Chart 36
USA Billboard Rhythmic Top-40 Chart 9
USA Billboard Top-40 Mainstream Chart 33
USA Billboard Top-40 Tracks Chart 34

References

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