Today’s From The Vault pick has etched itself in pop culture eternally.
This week, we salute Eminem‘s innovative ‘Stan.’
Released in 2000 as the third single from Slim Shady’s third effort ‘The Marshall Mathers LP,’ the song is considered -to this day – one of the rapper’s finest artistic moments.
It tells the story of Stan, an overzealous, devoted and obsessive fan of Em’s, who sends him letters and tapes to profess his love and gratitude for helping him overcome his hardships by way of his music. During the last verse of the song, Eminem finally gets to reply to Stan, telling him to treat his girlfriend better as well as suggesting he gets some help for his anger issues. Eventually he realizes that Stan is the very person who drove into the water with his girlfriend in his truck that he heard about on the news.
Commercially, the song was a success, mainly in Europe where it peaked at #1 in the UK, Germany and Denmark. It was a Top 5 hit in France, Spain and Sweden. It was also chart topper in Australia but was only a moderate hit in America, missing the Top 50 in the US – peaking at #51 – and only making it at #27 in Canada.
Still, the track’s impact wasn’t limited to the charts: ever since its release, the term “Stan” has been used to describe a super-devoted, in some cases infatuated fan, referencing the main character of the track. It can also be used as a verb. The term has since been included in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Its video was directed by Eminem’s mentor, Dr. Dre and featured actor Devon Sawa and singer Dido – whose track ‘Thank You’ had been sampled to create the song’s chorus and bassline – as deranged Stan and his pregnant girlfriend.
Without a doubt, offerings such as ‘Stan’ helped Eminem stay (way) above of the competition. For every comical ‘Real Slim Shady’ or ‘Just Lose It,’ there was a ‘Stan’ or ‘Love The Way You Lie’ lurking in the back. We suggest some of today’s rappers find their own ways of showing diversity and don’t get stuck in one singular mode if they want a career like Em’.
Having said that, we also hope Mr. Mathers can recover that winning formula for his next record, because it’s been touch and go with his last few swings of the bat. Most recent effort ‘Kamikaze’ helped steer his narrative in a healthier direction – which can only be seen as a positive.
In the meanwhile, we have his classic catalogue to tide us over.