The same insomnia that blocked my efforts to do today’s comic review makes me too tired to work on the video I had planned. Lucky for me this idea was in the back of my head and I can let the song speak for itself.
Anybody who knows me will not be surprised that I’m as far from an Eminem fan as you can get. While I like the beat of some of his early public work, the themes of the lyrics either make want to shake my head or slap him upside his. It’s not my tone or anything, and even the beat seems less lively now, more angry I guess. However, anger worked in his favor for “Stan”, a song about an obsessed fan who goes over the deep end. One interesting thing about rap, though, is that sometimes the songs they sample become hits even if they weren’t before. I’ll get to that, but first, let’s see the rap version. Although be warned, the version I found that worked the best is the uncensored version.
I don’t have a problem with censoring curse words, but if you compare this with the “short” version by MTV, other references were taken out as well that fail to demonstrate just how far gone Stan is. Mainly, the part where Stan shoves his girlfriend into the trunk of the car he kills himself in so she’ll suffer more. Contrast that with Slim Shady’s response in the final verse. Here he admits that, while he’s happy to be an inspiration to Stan, that a lot of Eminem’s trash talk is a character and shouldn’t be taken that seriously. Did the rapper realize some people weren’t understanding what he was doing and wrote this to address fans who might try to emulate his words rather that why he does what he does? While I usually have a problem with darker songs and stories, for “Stan” it actually works and despite his usual MO it doesn’t feel like being dark and controversial just to be dark and controversial.
Christian rapper KJ 52 wrote two separate songs using “Stan” as a bit of inspiration for “Dear Slim” and “Dear Slim part 2” (a response to MTV’s slamming of the first song), in which he attempts to address the anger of Eminem’s music and how it might affect other Stans out there as well as Slim Shady’s own life. Don’t think Shady caught it or that it registered with him.
Appearing in the official video as the doomed girlfriend is Dido, someone I never heard of until this song. For the chorus, Eminem used the opening line from her song “Thank You”, which not only became a hit on its own after folks found out where the sampling came from but brought Dido into the spotlight. The story of this song couldn’t be any more different. Instead of an obsessed fan target, Dido’s picture shows a man who is a positive influence on her life, no matter how bad her day went.
“Thank You” is actually about Dido’s real life boyfriend at the time, entertainment lawyer Bob Page. Sadly, one of her next hits, “White Flag“, was about their break-up. Shame that her two biggest hits contradict each other. Still, it is a romantic song and if the real Slim Shady did anything to benefit the world, it was giving her a chance to show the world how great a singer she is.