This samples "Thank You
" from Dido, a British singer/songwriter. "Thank You" was used in the Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors
, and became a hit almost two years later after it was used on this.
Dido told MTV: "A hip-hop producer named DJ Mark 'The 45' King sampled the first part of 'Thank You' from the TV - and he put it on a beat tape, as they do, and sent it to Eminem and he used it. It's that simple. I got this letter out of the blue one day. It said, 'We like your album, we've used this track. Hope you don't mind and hope you like it.' When they sent it to me and I played it, I was like, 'Wow! This track's amazing.'"
This song tells the story of a fan obsessed with Eminem. When his letters are not answered, he puts his pregnant girlfriend in his trunk and drives off a bridge. The song ends with Eminem answering his letter and realizing Stan was the man in the news who drove off the bridge.
Two videos were shot: a standard MTV version and a 20-minute version. Dido played Stan's wife, and Devon Sawa, an actor who really is a big fan of Eminem, played Stan. Sawa played the human version of Casper in the 1995 movie and was also in Idle Hands
Eminem performed this with Dido on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live on October 7, 2000. She also joined him on some of his tour dates.
This helped Dido gain popularity in the US. Her album No Angel, which had been out for a year and a half, took off as she got exposure through this and various talk-show appearances.
In his last letter, Stan writes how he is like the drowning man in the Phil Collins song "In The Air Tonight
." The rumor, which is not true, is that Collins saw a man watch another man drown, then sang the song to him at a concert to let him know he knew.
In America, this was just a modest hit, but in the UK, which gave Eminem a lot more love early on, it was his second chart-topper, following "The Real Slim Shady
." He didn't top the American Hot 100 until 2002 with "Lose Yourself
Eminem performed this at the 2001 Grammys with Elton John playing piano and singing the Dido part. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) protested the performance, claiming Eminem promoted hatred. The part of this song that was deemed anti-gay was the line where Stan writes, "We could have been together" and Eminem replies, "That's the kind of thing that makes me think we shouldn't meet each other." Elton John didn't have a problem with it.
The Grammy performance was released as a single, with some of the proceeds going to charity.
Eminem talked about the character Stan in Rolling Stone magazine's Top 500 Songs: "He's crazy for real, and he thinks I'm crazy, but I try to help him at the end of the song. It kinda shows the real side of me."
The producers of the Grammy Awards sued Napster after Eminem's performance with Elton John was heavily downloaded.
The composer credits on this song read: Florian Armstrong, Paul Herman, Marshall Mathers. That first name is Dido, whose real name is Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong. Paul Herman was her co-writer on "Thank You."
The music video reveals the title character's name via his tombstone: Stanley Mitchell.
In this song, Stan says, "I drank a fifth of vodka, dare me to drive?" This line comes from Eminem's song, "My Name Is."
At the end of the video, after Eminem realizes that he is writing to Stan who killed himself, lightning flashes and in the window beside him you can see Stan staring in at Eminem.
The song structure and storyline of "Stan" seems to be based on "Fans" by Malcolm McLaren from 1984 which includes an opera aria excerpt instead of a Dido song and tells the tale of an obsessed fan with spoken word rather than rap.
Dido's first child was born at the private Portman Hospital in London in July 2011. So why are we telling you this? Well, she named him Stanley and the Guardian newspaper asked the singer if it was in tribute to this track, which kick-started her career? Dido said it wasn't, it just happened to have always been her favourite name. She added: "I don't mind people thinking that anyway because it was such a great period in my life."
Eminem revisited this song on the Marshall Mathers LP 2
track "Bad Guy
," where Stan's vengeful little brother, Matthew, kidnaps the rapper in retaliation for destroying his sibling's life.
The original version of the third verse was deleted because the engineer was stoned. "When we recorded Stan I worked with a couple different engineers but this particular engineer I had never worked with before," Eminem wrote on Genius
. "While we were recording the third verse of Stan, he started rolling a joint and asked me if I minded if he smoked while we cut. What was I gonna do? Say no? He was already rolling it so I told him 'no problem.'"
"Back then we were recording on 2-inch tape, so once you recorded over something it's gone forever," he continued. "So I'm in the booth waiting and he backs the tape up all the way to the beginning of the verse and punches me in. I realize he's in the wrong spot and I can't hear any of my vocals so I start waving my arms and yelling in the mic to try to get his attention. He doesn't notice so I run into the control room through a cloud of smoke and yell 'Yo, I wanted to keep those vocals' he just looked at me and said 'My bad man…you wanna hit this?' The first half of the verse was GONE. I re-recorded it but you should have heard the original take that s--- was WAY better…oh well!"
In 2017, the Oxford American Dictionary added the word "stan," defined as "An overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity." It can be used as a noun ("He's a total stan for Beyoncé") or a verb ("When I was a teenager, I stanned Justin Bieber"). The song is listed as the origin of the word.