Dido's New Lease On 'Life'

Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.

Dido Armstrong's breathless journey is reflected in the title of her much-awaited new album, "Life for Rent" (Arista/BMG).

She has gone from hopeful singer/songwriter to budding superstar, thanks to worldwide sales of 12 million for her debut album, "No Angel." But for all the scrutiny of Dido's new work, the English artist says she has put BMG's sales estimate for her previous album out of her mind.

"It was very easy to put it aside," Dido insists. "I was so desperate to get back in the studio, because I had all these ideas in my head. Then I was in this studio environment where you're completely unaware of what's going on. Actually, I think I had way more fun making this record than the last one."

"Life for Rent" is set to be released Sept. 29 internationally and one day later in North America. On the eve of its debut, Dido is shifting into overdrive.

At 8 a.m. Sept. 29, she begins what some observers have called a "Phil Collins Day," referring to his transatlantic feat for Live Aid in 1985.

She will perform a four-song acoustic set at the Virgin Megastore on London's Oxford Street and then, with 170 guests (including key European media and a slew of U.S. radio contest winners), she'll fly to New York and perform a second showcase the same day at the Virgin Megastore in Union Square.

"White Flag," the first single from "Life for Rent," was the second-most-played song in Europe last week, according to Pan-European airplay monitoring company Music Control. In the U.S., the single went to radio June 30; it is making steady gains at adult top 40, where it is in the top 10.

The album offers 11 new songs mostly written by Dido and her brother, Rollo, of U.K. house/pop outfit Faithless. The pair produced seven tracks and co-wrote the bulk of "No Angel"; this time they helmed the entire project.

"I enjoyed the freedom and the relationship with my brother, which has really come on," she observes. "We really appreciate each other's input all the time."

During the of the album's release, she'll be highly visible on U.S. television, including stops at "Live! With Regis and Kelly," "Good Morning America," "Late Show With David Letterman" and "The Late Late Show With Craig Kilborn."

Dido will make yet another trip to the U.S. in early December to play a handful of Christmas holiday radio-station festival shows, before returning again for a proper U.S. tour. She's expected to tour from April until Christmas 2004.

It has been roughly two years since the singer's popularity peaked in the U.S., thanks to the Eminem track "Stan" that prominently sampled Dido's "Thank You," and the use of the "No Angel" track "Here With Me" as the theme song of the since-canceled TV program "Roswell."

Dido says any hopes of matching her last sales figures are "probably a little crazy, but what I want is for people to react the same way, word-of-mouth-wise, and for it to build that way again. I want to hear that people have told other people to get it, and they like it. That's all you really care about as an artist."

Additional reporting by Wes Orshoski in New York.

Excerpted from the Sept. 27, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.

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