Editor’s Note: Our recurring “Portrait of the Artist” playlist series pays homage to the artists responsible for the most inspired and indispensable discographies of all time. We hope you enjoy these tributes, and stay tuned for many more to come.
Forty-five years ago today, Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong was born. More affectionately known worldwide by the far more concise moniker Dido, the London born and bred singer-songwriter first ascended to international prominence in the year 2000 when Eminem and co-producer The 45 King incorporated a slightly modified sample of her single “Thank You” for “Stan,” from the emcee’s The Marshall Mathers LP. Accompanied by a music video which featured Dido herself, the single was a worldwide smash hit and elevated the UK songstress to household name status in Slim Shady’s native USA.
But unbeknownst to far too many, even to this day, Dido’s recording career began a handful of years before her fortuitous collaboration with Mr. Mathers. In 1995, she bestowed her heavenly vocals upon the soaring dancefloor anthem “Salva Mea,” the debut single by her brother Rollo Armstrong’s group Faithless. Her lush tones juxtaposed with emcee Maxi Jazz’s haunting rhymes and the shimmering, propulsive sonics orchestrated by Rollo and DJ Sister Bliss made for an intoxicating, inspired mélange of sound.
Dido also co-wrote and supplied lead vocals on the sublime “Flowerstand Man” from Faithless’ 1996 debut album Reverence, the 20th anniversary of which we commemorated earlier this year. Her creative partnership with Faithless would thrive in subsequent years, as she appeared on the group’s next five studio LPs, including their final effort The Dance (2010).
Faithless’ success would provide Dido with a solid stepping stone from which to launch her solo recording career, which began in earnest in 1998 when she recorded a handful of songs that ultimately comprised her debut long player No Angel. The Albumism team recalls first hearing her solo work in the form of the aforementioned single “Thank You” on the soundtrack to the surprisingly good Gwyneth Paltrow led film Sliding Doors (1998). A year-and-a-half later, the American TV series Roswell debuted with Dido’s “Here with Me” as its opening theme song, which likely informed the curious decision by her record label Arista to release her debut LP in the States well before unveiling it internationally.
Released in the US in 1999 and worldwide in early 2001, No Angel provided an excellent first taste of Dido’s songwriting prowess. But her stellar 2003 follow-up effort Life for Rent far exceeded the promise of its precursor in showcasing her penchant for compelling narrative and memorable songs that stick. While not as commercially successful as her first two LPs, Safe Trip Home (2008) and her most recent album Girl Who Got Away (2013) both constitute essential listening for those interested in discovering how Dido has refined her songcraft as her career continues to evolve.
In honor of Dido’s recorded repertoire to date, we’ve compiled a special 35-track tribute playlist that spans each of her four studio albums, her most celebrated compositions with Faithless, and a handful of rarities and remixes. While the mix is fairly comprehensive, there are admittedly a few glaring omissions due to presumed copyright and licensing issues. Most notably, the divine “Worthless” from her early career ‘Odds & Ends’ collection, “North Star” from Faithless’ The Dance, and her contributions to Safe from Harm, the 2005 album by her brother Rollo’s side project Dusted are not currently available to stream via Spotify.
We hope you enjoy this aural tribute to Dido’s discography and please join us in wishing her a very Happy Birthday! Stream the playlist below or here, and join us in celebrating Dido today and every day. And be sure to follow Albumism on Spotify to be the first to discover future playlists.