"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 studio 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, (screaming) 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 squealing, big crash, loud splash.)"
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.
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. 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.File Hashes